What kicks off the new year celebrated so avidly around the globe is a gift given by the universe itself—a new orbit. In fact, my character Cornelius Smith and my friend Laurance Doyle —both of whom are astronomers—give this as their annual greeting. “Happy New Orbit!” Makes me smile every time.
Fresh starts . . . a clean slate . . . infinite possibilities. . . . The precious sense that all things are new again is valued throughout the world. Some of us want almost everything to change; some of us probably want a few things to change. And most of us desire a sense of progress so we create a theme or a list to help us establish the landmarks of transformation.
Like most folks, I have my rituals. First, I give my office a deep cleaning. This is when the long-ignored-and-now-mysterious stacks of papers, magazines and file folders are sorted: shredding and recycling here, filing and donating there. Surprising how few “action items” come out of these stacks. Yet some treasures emerge too. Almost nothing goes into landfill, so this is a good planet-project. Second, the new day-planner and notebooks get unsealed and readied for use. Ahh, the fresh pages! From blank sheets to calendar grids, from goal lists to favorite quotes and graphics, these are the special tools that will gradually fill with tasks completed, victories won, and surprises unpredictable. These are the things my head likes to do at the new year’s beginning.
So what does my heart like to do at the start of each new orbit? It wants to go for a walk. And my heart’s favorite walk is along the shore with mountains on one side and ocean on the other. I’ve often asked myself why this particular geography speaks so palpably to my heart. What I’ve come up with so far is that the land and mountains represent that which is formed, solid, and worth climbing toward; the ocean and shoreline represent the vast sea of possibility where it touches my understanding. I don’t do much talking on these walks. I mostly listen. One thing I always hear is the gratitude list, which for 2011 was astounding. Milestones include: first hardcover novel; first Kindle short-story best-seller; second Kindle short-story best-seller; and reaching 17 million reader during my August blog tour.
There are two things I can think of that both head and heart love to do as the year commences. One is to attend the Fire Sacrament service as my husband’s church. On tiny pieces of treated paper, the congregation is invited to write down a word representing something we’d like to get rid of. Then we walk to the front and hold the minuscule sheet over a flame, at which point is instantly combusts and disappears in a tiny puff of smoke. The gorgeously simple and profound ceremony always provides a perfect visualization of something unwanted disappearing into its native nothingness.
The other head-heart activity that always inspires is writing the Milford-Haven Novels. There’s the private side of it: solitude and focus as I listen and hear my characters think and talk, challenge them with fresh circumstances, and interweave their stories. And there’s the public side: dialoguing with readers on www.GoodReads.com and www.Shelfari.com; answering questions at book events; sharing news through my newsletters; replying to comments on this blog.
What’s so exciting about the author-reader connection is that our orbits overlap. So thanks for letting me be part of your orbit this year, and thanks for joining mine. It’s going to be an extraordinary year in Milford-Haven, which truly has an orbit of its own that is meant just for you. So join me and my characters for a happy new orbit. . . in Milford-Haven!
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