Just after the New Year, I spent some time in Vermont.
I go to Vermont to write, but ever since the start of the pandemic, I also go there for some clarity of thought. Sometimes it’s easier to figure out how you’re doing if you can get some distance from everything. Where I go, I have no cell service, internet, or email. I keep my fingers crossed that when I arrive, I won’t discover frozen pipes. I haul a lot of wood (so much wood! Wood is heavy!). I start a fire in the stove and hole up for a while, blessed with the great good fortune to be allowed to turn briefly into a hermit.
Occasionally I’m able to talk to Kevin on the phone, and our conversations go something like this: Hi! How have you been? Could you please tell me the names of Henry VIII’s wives in order and also which ones were executed?
Because, again, I have no internet. So I keep a running list of all the things I’ve been wondering. And when you’re listening to the audiobook of Wolf Hall while staring out the window,
sometimes you realize you want some spoilers. (The answer, if you’re interested: (1) Catherine of Aragon. (2) Anne Boleyn, beheaded. (3) Jane Seymour. (4) Anne of Cleves. (5) Catherine Howard, beheaded. (6) Catherine Parr.)
So anyway, I went to Vermont at the New Year. In previous years, I’ve loved the New Year. It’s been a time of reflection and planning for me, a time to find balance and reconsider my intentions. Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve lost that New Year ritual to a certain extent, because time and its passage have gotten quite confusing. It doesn’t seem possible, for example, that Winterkeep was released in 2021. Wasn’t that eons ago? But also, I finalized a new book in 2021 (more on that, as soon as I’m allowed to say more) and am more than halfway through writing a new one, plus I have three other ideas begging to be written. How is that possible? Hasn’t it been only a year? Didn’t time used to be less springy than this? How old am I anyway? Did winter always used to make me this emotional? Why did I used to dislike my gray hair and now I love it? Why did I ever, EVER, put up with itchy tags in my clothes before now? Have my hands always been this cold? When will I see my friends’ faces again?
It’s really hard to sum up my last year and make plans for the next. I’m thinking in mushy blobs of time, rather than weeks, months, or years. But I am still hoping and planning.
Here are three plans I have for the nearish future:
1. I will finish a draft of a new, contemporary book that I’m currently loving writing. (I actually think this will happen this spring!)
2. I will unveil a website. Finally, after more than a decade, I’ve hired someone to build me a website! I’m having so, so much fun making my own art for it. I think this will get sorted this summer.
3. I will make some strides in a project currently occupying me and some other family members: dual USA-Italian citizenship.
These are my plans. Of course, every new piece of news and frankly the world in general can gum up the works pretty easily these days. So, we’ll see how everything goes. I’m trying to learn flexibility.
I hope you’re able to find some flexibility too, and also some clarity of thought, as we move through the New Year.