A Year in the Company of Words

December 31, 2015
New Years is such a peculiar holiday on the calendar.  It doesn’t have religious nor historic connotations like most major holidays although it does contain elements of both.  The drinking or party phase section of the population, commemorate it with the required bacchanalia and woozy recovery but the rest of us aren’t so sure of our role.  We can review the year end lists or re-watch  The Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller biopics that seem to appear on each New Year’s Eve TV schedule but by now I know exactly when Lionel Hampton will show up and June Allyson will tug on her ear lobe.  Nope, I don’t want to spend this New Year’s re-watching the same old movies, nor do I want to spend it kicking my poor old liver with an overdoes of scotch.  Instead I want to end the year as I’ve spent it:  in the company of words.

  • Reading New Books – After checking various electronic records and the drain that sucks up my spare income and phone space (Amazon Kindle) I can safely say I read at least one new book every week this year, which was sort of like making a new friend every week.  Some of them, like A Tale Dark and Grimm and The Ocean at the End of the Lane went straight to my heart and onto my  re-reading list.  (I am a re-reader of books).  Others were nice and interesting for the interval but not a lifetime love.  A couple, like The Forsyte Saga, could only be defined as “new” books because I hadn’t read them before and one or two I read not from paper or through a book-friendly program, like Kindle, but as text files on a screen simply because I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. While each new book may not life up to its hype, each unread book brings new hope when it’s opened.  
  • Re-reading Old Books – When I was in Girl Scouts, we used to sing a song.

Make New Friends,But Keep the Old.  

One is Silver and the Other’s Gold

  • Well loved books are like old friends and I have to stay in touch.  Wherever I go, they go with me and yes, I’ll put down the new books to re-acquaint myself with the prose and poetry that I’ve known for decades.  If that makes me weird, so be it.  I just wish I had more time to spend with them.  Still only part of this word year was about reading
  • 2015 is, for me, the year I stopped writing in short, painful bursts (and re-writing, re-writing and hiding the finished product in shame) and began the discipline of printing something at least twice a week.  Something the public could see and criticize. I still have an enormous amount to learn but I’m not as afraid of failure as I was a few years ago. Instead of thinking, “Oh what if I fail!” and then scrambling to hide under the bed, I’ve learned to think “Of course, I’m going to fail; so what!” I learned I can survive being rejected.  I can’t recommend it as a life-experience but learning I don’t implode after hearing “No” was heartening. I even learned I can write something new to submit for rejection.  Amazing.

Reading, to me, is honest-to-God magic, a way to climb inside someone else’s soul and understand their feelings and thoughts.  Because of words, I know the voices of so many people I’d never have the chance to hear, sometimes voices of people who died long before I was born.  Writing then becomes the act of sending out a new transmission, adding my own voice to the chorus.  Amazing.  Words are a human creation but, arranged well, they bring us into the family of mankind.

So the year slides into it’s final hours as I continue to peck at the keyboard, looking for the next decent sentence.  I hope you had a full and wonderful year with good memories to temper the bad.  May you find a better world next year and a future filled with hope and words. 

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