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F**K 2014

Often on December 31st I mourn the year's passing. But 2014 was not my best year. Professionally, I published my 13th novel, and of course that was an accomplishment. But, though I consider Rumble my best book for a number of reasons, it didn't meet the kind of instant success I'm used to, and critically it was largely ignored. The messages the book carries are hugely important, and that I wasn't able to express them well enough to allow wider recognition will always bother me.

A number of huge expenses, plus a shift in income, allowed me to see the bottom of my bank account for the first time in years. My commitments extend not only to my expanded family, but also to the young people relying on Ventana Sierra, the nonprofit I founded in 2012. The worry surrounding my finances forced me into months of little sleep, which was not conducive to productive writing time. Words usually flow onto the page, but I found myself begging them to come.

On a personal level, I struggled to find and maintain necessary balance between work and family. That isn't new, but it was more important than ever because of the young children thrust into my life, not to mention the son who reached adulthood this month, and yet has not quite found his way. Philosophically, I understand that every child is an individual and develops differently. But when I watch this amazing young man floundering, I worry that I could have parented better.

My relationship with my daughter, long tenuous, disintegrated completely. I can no longer witness her single-minded self-destruction, at the expense of those who continue to love her despite her repeating the same negative patterns over and over. It's hard to give up on your child. But at some point you have to save your sanity, especially when so many others rely on you.

I had to help my fourteen-year-old German shepherd—the one I personally delivered so many years ago—through her end-of-life decline and into her final rest. Making the decision to say goodbye was extremely hard, but seeing her suffer was impossible. She was at my feet one last time when she crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

The year was capped off by a family crisis that could have ended a thirty-year relationship with someone I believed I knew inside and out. I was wrong, and that brought into question three decades of my life. Time I can never get back, nor can I change a single day. I often tell the readers who reach out to me that the past will always inform the future, but it doesn't have to define it. Now it's my turn to have to believe that.

In the wake of this life-changing event, I found order in shedding baggage. I cleaned out closets and cupboards, recycling or tossing all the stuff I haven't used in years. I gave away clothing I knew I'd never wear again. I replaced old lumpy pillows with new ones. I moved my teen into a bigger space, opened up shelves for the little ones' toys and games, and am making them all take pride in keeping their possessions organized and neat. I filed my stacks and shredded useless paperwork.

With the kids out of school for an extended winter break, I've found myself in the kitchen again, rediscovering my love for cooking and baking. The family has had to put up with some unusual dishes, as well as old favorites. A new puppy has brought us much entertainment and laughter, as well as uncompromising love that asks little in return.

If I said everything is right again, I'd be lying. Reordering and restructuring have given me a small sense of balance, but there are still big decisions ahead. What I know is I'm strong enough to make them, and they'll be the right choices for my family, my readers, and me. I'll have two books out this coming year, and I'll be writing two more, plus smaller projects, including a poetry collection. I found some damn good poems I wrote a while back and they made me remember my journey here. The good outweighs the bad.

So, FUCK 2014. Good riddance. I'm trudging out of darkness, reaching for the light, and determined to make 2015 my best year yet. 

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Betsy Pritts Ickes
Dec. 31st, 2014 07:55 pm (UTC)
2014, making way for the new year
Ellen, throughout this year, your friends and fans have shared your pain and your joys. We've watched you go from a mom ready to become an empty-nester back to a PTO mother, worrying about and caring for small children once again. We've watched you put your heart into helping teens less fortunate, pouring your soul into your writing. We've cheered you on, viewing you as a super mom, a super writer, a super woman. Yes, you are strong, but don't be afraid to be open up your vulnerability to those who can support you.
Best wishes for 2015, and I personally look forward to seeing all the positive things that come your way in the upcoming year.
Kim Baccellia
Dec. 31st, 2014 09:10 pm (UTC)
Here's to a better 2015!

**I also feel RUMBLE has a very powerful message. Loved.

I admire you so much. You're not only very creative but very strong. You also have been able to touch me with your writing (BURNED for example) and I know I can't be the only one.

Cyber hugs and looking forward to your other stories.
Paige Reitz
Dec. 31st, 2014 09:26 pm (UTC)
RUMBLE was unbelievably powerful. I am sorry you felt it did not get to the audience it deserved, though I will say it was one book of yours that I had to savor. I couldn't read it all at once, because the emotions were just too powerful. I needed to stop, to reflect, to pick it up again. While I love all of your books, the only one that caused similar necessary breaks and reflections - rather than reading through the entire book in a sitting or two - was COLLATERAL. I hope in time, RUMBLE meets the acclaim it should.

In all other areas, my thoughts are with you. You're a phenomenal person, far more than someone defined solely by literary acclaim (though of that, you have plenty). You are caring and loving and compassionate and I know you will do great things in 2015. I hope 2015 is better for you than 2014. <3
lilrongal
Dec. 31st, 2014 11:51 pm (UTC)
Sending you love and light for 2015 and beyond.
light_like
Jan. 1st, 2015 04:11 am (UTC)
I'm sorry this wasn't your year. I definitely know the feeling. And I think 2015 will be the best year of my life and I desperately hope I'm not jinxing myself by saying so. I hope the best for you.

I just wanted to say that your books, which I still own and intend to reread in the very near future, were a comfort to me in my teen years like nothing else. I never felt closer to stories than I did yours. I read a lot and I still feel that you understand and describe pain, and just emotion in general, like no one else can. You have always been an inspiration to me as a writer and the years, no matter how shitty, will never change the positive impact you've had on my life.
boothyisawesome
Jan. 1st, 2015 08:08 pm (UTC)
Major hugs for you. Had no idea a lot of this was going on when I saw you in November. Definitely glad we hugged then; otherwise, now I would've regretted not giving you a big hug! Rumble was amazing and I loved it so much; I will definitely have to do more to spread the word! I wish you the best for 2015 and cannot wait to read and review your books this year!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )