2 January 2016
The year Two Thousand Fifteen. Yeah, you were a doozy.
Do we say that about every year? I should record myself, really. I think we probably do. We sit around on New Year’s Eve and we say, “Good riddance to that crappy year! May this coming year will be the best one ever!”
It’s like childbirth, which sucks, but then two years later, you find yourself squeezing out another 8 lb. screaming watermelon. Afterward, you experience selective amnesia. “Meh, it didn’t hurt that much,” or, “The next one won’t hurt nearly as bad.” But, damn it, next time that baby still hurts like hell to squeeze out.
Just like every year hurts, and every year has its triumphs, as well. So we hold up our glasses and go for another.
The interesting thing about our little social experiment here at One Year of Letters is that, quite without planning to, we’ve created a diary based on the lives of several talented people. Our archives now hold three hundred essays that document our collective trials and tribulations, and those of the families we live with in real life. Readers can either track the team as a whole or focus on one writer’s journey over more than a year. A devoted reader can probably tell when we’re feeling sentimental, proud, blue, or distressed.
A truly devoted reader would have noticed that Life clobbered the team about midway through 2015, and Life hasn’t let up in the six long months since. Some of us speak openly or in metaphor about the burdens affecting us. Some hint at our burdens by our notable absences. We are a slice of the real world, comprised of people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds, and yet most of us have individually had a really rough year. As a result, the Letters Project struggles to provide new content at the rate that we used to.
The writer in me says it’s the extremes of emotions that feed our best essays, so what’s our excuse? But even I have let a week slide when I feel I have nothing to add. I hate leaving you with that silence. I want to bring you all right into our lives, so you will see that your trials are no worse and no different than ours. In 2015, did you endure illness, chronic pain, fear, despair, or death? So did we. We wrote about it sometimes; other times we chose to suffer in silence. Turns out, it’s just as difficult for a writer to expose his or her feelings in public. Maybe because it hurts, or maybe because we perceive the openness as unseemly or weak.
In theory, I disagree, because we strive to be our readership’s mouthpiece. Still, the practicality of finding an hour to bash at the keys, often wiping away tears, then offering the piece for critique among peers, after which we revise and post and market our pieces …
Well, it’s a whole lot of work. Kind of like life. And yet we at Letters must continue to “lean in,” as they say, and chronicle this messy tangle called Life. We must dig down deep, to find the discipline, strength, and language to bring our perceptions alive. To speak for the readers who tell us that we are speaking for them.
The Letters may falter, but they will not die. We writers may stumble as we search for a good path, but higher ground lies in sight, just over that hump of a really bad year. This arbitrary slice of time called 2016 can only get better, I think.
To read more letters, click on The Path!