As the calendar turns to 2014, and as I launch my new website and blog, I find myself thinking about new beginnings and my plans for the coming year. One of my big plans is to release my debut novel, The Damnable Legacy of A Minister’s Wife. Set largely against Alaska’s unforgiving landscape and narrated from beyond the grave, it’s a story about attachment, faith, hope, redemption, and survival.
The release of a first novel is an exciting, frightening adventure, and a lot of uncertainty lies ahead. Of course there will be moments of joy and celebration, but I’m not a fool. I also know there will be mistakes made, disappointments to face, lessons to learn. There are times I worry about the F-word (failure) and consider closing down my screen and giving up on writing altogether. But I know that nothing great comes from quitting. So I’ve made a commitment to myself, and my readers, to move ahead.
This mixture of excitement and apprehension on the eve of a new year reminds me of the characters in my novel, as a matter of fact. If we were to look in on them on the New Year’s Eve that precedes the story, here’s what we’d find.
- Lynn Van Swol curled up with a book, but not really reading. She’d be distracted by the images hanging on her walls, the journals on her bookshelves, and the silence from Greg’s recent departure. She’d be drawn to reflections of her life, and she’d be thinking about goals unmet and decisions regretted. She’d be remembering how her first lover, Farid, had said this was only the beginning, that climbing would change her life forever, and she’d be nodding in wonder at how right he’d been all those long years ago. She’d also be looking toward the new year and her upcoming plans with both trepidation and determination, taking it all in through the sour lens of uncertainty and from the distasteful perspective of irreversible aging.
- Beth and Ryan Mahoney would likely be at home on New Year’s Eve, sipping champagne on their deck while bundled in blankets beneath the High Desert stars. On the surface, they’d appear to be blissfully celebrating their return to the West and their loving commitment to one another. But beneath the smiles and joy, they’d each be silently suppressing their disappointments of infertility, their fears of returning illness, and the grief that accompanies lost faith.
- Frankie Rizzoni would be in her bedroom, trying not to hear the sounds of her mother’s raucous acquaintances and dreading the mess she’d be forced to clean up the next day. She’d be lying on her mattress and inventing a new life, full of promise, safety, and freedom, only to be interrupted time and again by the slamming of a door, the breaking of bottles, or the rattling of her locked doorknob.
Crossing into another new year is a bit like reading another new novel: it gives each of us an opportunity to reflect on the past, anticipate the future, and recognize that life will never be quite the same again. I hope when you read The Damnable Legacy of A Minister’s Wife, you’ll find that your life won’t ever be quite the same again, either. Until then, please check back with my blog and sign up for my newsletter.
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.”
― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets