I've been blessed--in some odd way--to have had enough good things happen in any one year that I can never write off an entire year as bad no matter what icky things happened. Or maybe that's just a sure sign that I'll never be successful at pessimism. Take 2002. In that one year, I quit a PhD program and a teaching job and as a result shattered the self-image I had spent more than a decade cultivating. The situations surrounding both departures were not pleasant, and I spent a good deal of that year sobbing and trying to figure out just what in the hell I was going to do with myself for the rest of my life. But 2002 was not a bad year. Mark and I were married that year. That summer, I discovered my muse, found a critique group and several writing communities, and started seriously writing HD. Mark and I took two amazing trips that year, and I was able to build a fantasy world out of the beautiful parks we saw. I could never call 2002 a bad year.
I find myself looking at 2004 in the same way. I started this year with the realization that I was bored and heading toward depression each day I stayed at my secretarial job. My writing was suffering for it, and I was no closer to addressing the issues that made 2002 so life-altering. I decided to find a job that would still let me write but also keep me more engaged for forty hours every week. Good plan. Said plan was still in its infancy when I was laid off. Five months of unemployment while the hubby is in grad school do not a happy Kellie make. At first I thought that unemployment would be a great way for me to get my writing on the right track. Instead, those five months were essential for me to get myself on the right track. I learned so much about myself in those months, most importantly that the self-image I had shattered in 2002 was a false image to begin with. I found the culprits behind some personal demons and put together morning routines and rituals to help me stay true to myself and lessen the hold of those culprits and demons a little more every day. How can such a year be bad, even if I was unemployed for five months and am now facing yet another unstable work environment?
Also, I finished my first major revision of my first novel this year. I did a lot of research, outlining, and planning for a new novel that I'm nearly 30,000 words into. I went to my first science fiction convention and made some writerly connections. I submitted HD to about ten agents. I wrote an eight-page synopsis in a weekend that actually reads very well and submitted it and the first twenty pages of HD to a contest. I wrote two short stories (I guess they're technically novellettes) this summer, and they sparked a universe for The Masque. I created a comfortable and personalized writing space for myself. And, possibly my greatest accomplishment of 2004, I beat both Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2. :)
2004 wasn't easy, but it wasn't bad, either. I started the year hoping to achieve balance in many ways: work and writing, play and writing, past and present and future. I spent the year tossing the dead weight that kept pulling me to the sides and depriving me of balance. I've still got a ways to go before I've got the kind of balance I dream about, but I'm solidly on my way there. It will happen.
2004 was a growing year, and those can never be bad.