Sparked by Words

End, Begin, Again


The end of one year and beginning of the new, a blazing explosion, a fiery goblet, and a burning regret that leads to a wall-eyed morning and the numerical designation of 2017. For the Chinese it is the Year of the Rooster, whose formal beginning is January 28, close enough for me. One born this year is slated to be hardworking, funny, trustworthy, and talented. With nothing more irrefutable than astrological signs or a tarot deck, I attempt to predict my future year. The shifting constellations, a foggy crystal ball, one shuffle of cards, and I sit at Buddha’s feet, wondering along with all the other postulants. At what strange place have I been lodged and what new port will welcome me? What might I commit to complete before the Year of the Dog begins to bark?

In many ways, it will be the same, same address, same routine, and same faces that regard me with winks, hugs, or heaving sighs. In other ways it will all be new, as if I’ve been cast off a space ship and jettisoned to a new galaxy where I can’t breathe. It’s this insecurity that keeps me from making resolutions, the near certain knowledge that no matter what I plan, it will be unlikely to proceed toward success. On less than one hand – really, on fewer than the knuckles on one finger – can I count my writing successes for this past year. I’ve written, yes, that I have. I made a final edit on my three completed books, made a substantive start on a fourth, and have five new ideas to pursue. I was turned down for a position I felt I was very qualified to undertake and I sulked like a three-year-old. As 2015 was the year I didn’t write on this blog, 2016 was the year I reclaimed it with reasonable effort, including a new alphabet series highlighting favorite books by letter. (H is for The History of Love published on January 6; I is for The Invention of Wings will publish on January 12.)

Then came the readers, from my critique group writing partners to the readers of this blog, with kind comments, suggestions for improvement, pats on the back, and true friendships among fellow writers. I extend my most sincere thanks to all of you. I feel like a writer, a real bona fide writer. (Redundant, I know.) My writing has been recognized as decent, my insecurity concerning my skills given a good slap on the hands. Here are the knuckles, raw with counting coup.

But the open door to an agent, the contract with an editor, the published book in hand: those glories did not happen. Admittedly, mostly my own fault. One must write, query, contact like tackle football if one is to tender a relationship with the publishing world. I didn’t, and that’s why I hesitate to write a set of resolutions for 2017. No point in promising what will be a certified failure. What writing I wanted most to work on, my newest book, got shunted to the side track of my circus, and the rooster bodes more obligations than will leave me time to write.

This post is not a pity party and I’m not looking for sympathy or an easy pass to achievement. All that must be earned. I am in a way a victim of my adult responsibilities. My (unpaid) position as my mother’s durable power of attorney (she suffers from advanced Alzheimer’s disease) sits on my calendar like a cock on the doorstep. She can’t live without it, I won’t budge it. My commitment to the other members of the writing critique group requires thoughtful consideration, the book beckons, the blog needs attention on regular basis, and I’m having difficulty with everything on a regular basis. I did mention I have a family, didn’t I?

What is wrong with me that I can’t muster a resolution for the New Year? It’s not just laziness or past experience, though their wrinkled lines are hard to smooth. It’s not simply presumption of failure which makes me quake. Most people don’t like that bitter taste and I can hardly be blamed for conformity. It’s that I truly loathe not being able to keep a commitment. I can’t tolerate saying I will do this set of resolutions in 2017, then fail to keep my word. I want some measure of probable success, a reasonable percentage point I can bet on. I want to know if I state that this writer will finalize all four books I’ve started, will send out x number of queries, will write y posts for Ink Flare, and n amount for Today’s Author, (the other blog for which I write) that you can count every single page and post and get to 99%. Many raw knuckles.

Still, it is the first week of the year. It’s said the rooster harks the morning sun because it can. I can make an effort. Nothing pricked in blood on parchment, but a scratch clawed in the dirt. Here it is, my 2017 resolution:

I will try to write on a regular basis, to complete what I’ve started, to query my work for genuine consideration, to make my dream come true. Best I can do.

The sun peaks her fiery head over the horizon. I’m harking.


Chinese New Year image courtesy: Google images public domain

Comments on: "End, Begin, Again" (36)

  1. The right kind of resolution.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My youthful resolutions and crazed perfectionism led me to anorexia (before it had a name) and misery. I still struggle with list making. If I complete the list each day I wonder why I didn’t put more on the list. If I don’t complete the list I get cranky.

    I think it’s why God put me on a farm. Fresh air and physical labor rescue me from myself. My mother says to pick only one thing to accomplish each day. Something only as big as making a cake.The rest is frosting. She’s a peaceful person. I admire that. 🙂

    It sounds like you do more than you give yourself credit for, but I realize that words like that are probably like water on a duck’s back!

    Happy New Year, anyway–whatever happens.


    Liked by 2 people

    • So very sorry about the struggle with anorexia – it’s a terrible illness that few understand and I’m glad you’ve conquered it. I’m satisfied with my own list if I get my goals accomplished within the month by which time the list has grown out of control and I’m feeling helpless. So then I start crossing off unnecessary parts – mission accomplished! Your mom has a great attitude, how wonderful that she’s peaceful. That’s a quality inside her, independent of what’s going on around her, not always easy to achieve.

      Thanks for the New Year wishes, same back at you and yours. You’ve got some wonderful events to look forward to.


  3. Shari, if it makes you feel any better, I don’t have any resolutions for this year. I don’t have what would actually be called goals either. However, I do have one target I’d like to bullseye and there’s a good possibility I’ll succeed. My target: finish the first revision of a book I did a few years ago and get at least halfway through the second revision. I won’t commit any further than that because the only constant in my life is change.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like your attitude, Glynis – it’s all in the way we perceive things, and sometimes that’s revealed and better achieved by the label applied. I wish you well as you work toward your target – practice makes perfect, you know.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Shari, Shari, Shari – You took the words right out of my mouth: (actually I would not say it quite as eloquently)
    “It’s that I truly loathe not being able to keep a commitment. I can’t tolerate saying I will do this set of resolutions in 2017, then fail to keep my word.”

    You started the year off in DECEMBER, finishing up all that editing. You are now my official role-model (you didn’t apply nor volunteer, I drafted you).

    Your posts reflect the quality of prose-style right up there with the best published authors so I know if you get off your behind and start the miserable work of finding an agent and a publisher good things will come your way. You are gifted.

    (Wash your hands after reading my comment as I think I’m still contagious.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Judy, Judy, Judy, you always make me laugh, and I thank you for being such a good friend and supporter. Since you drafted me, I’m going to draft you: please provide the kick in the tush to keep going with the queries.

      And please get WELL!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ll put on my combat boots.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I just spent 10 minutes googling Judy Gollum — still don’t get the connection . . .I

    don’t have ballet slippers – can’t dance.

    Won’t do it barefooted – will hurt. I’m giving you the boot. (metaphorically speaking)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry – a very long stretch: Gollum is the character from Lord of the Rings who was originally a Hobbit but who became an ugly monster changed by his own greed for the ring which he called My Precious. Judy Garland was a beautiful but emotionally fragile singer. So put together – Judy Gollum. I was being goofy with the name. I actually loved the character of Gollum and found him very sympathetic. And you’re not anything like Gollum or Judy Garland but it was fun to play with your name.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. […] to my friend Sharon Bonin-Pratt (whose last post inspired this post) People born under the sign of the Rooster are hardworking, funny, trustworthy […]

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That sounds like a very sensible New Year’s resolution to me. It’s certainly better than my resolution to stop eating doughnuts with my tea or coffee. That one didn’t even survive a day.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I have an entire book on Chinese New Year. I’ve read bits of it, but it never strikes for me.

    The ability you have to hold your readers interest is something to be forever grateful for, which I know you are, Shari. May you end 2017 chasing your completed goals in celebration. ♡

    Liked by 1 person

    • Starting very young when my parents took us to the Natural History Museum in Trenton, NJ, I’ve been interested in other cultures, fascinated with history, clothing, lifestyle, art, and music. In addition I was an art teacher for decades and taught art from around the world. I lived in Hawaii, twice, so was surrounded by the Chinese – and other ethnic – population and got immersed in their culture. When I went to Punahou, the same private school President Obama attended, though decades after me, the only kids who befriended me were the Chinese girls – our interests in art, music, and reading were similar, bound by our connections to family. One of my favorite memories was of watching the Chinese New Year’s parade in Honolulu, seeing the enormous dragon wind its way down the streets, announced by drummers, gongs, and other musicians in the most imaginative costumes. It was exotic and magical. Maybe you have to be immersed in it to see its beauty. Then of course, there’s the food!

      Anyway, Audrey, you are too kind about my writing. Thank you so much. As for the last, from your mouth to God’s ear.


      • I would welcome complete immersion, Shari. I’ve often looked into ways to do so over the years. There is nothing more satisfying than learning another culture. I lived in an international dormitory in college. There weren’t very many folks I wouldn’t have followed home. Forever. I know this about myself. I wasn’t made to experience very little of this world. This I believe. I’ve stunted my growth in this area, but I haven’t quit trying.


      • You are still young, Audrey. Many miles to journey, many experiences to savor.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Best luck with it all, Sharon, but don’t be too hard on yourself. Shit happens, good things happen, life goes on. It will come together in the end. Hugs!🌺


    • Thanks for the encouragement, Marina. I’m really not any good at making or keeping resolutions at any time of the year, but I do make serious and critical attempts to evaluate what I’m doing with my life. Your outlook is positive.


  11. Hello I wandered here following one of your likes 🙂 and enjoyed this post very much. I have a soft spot for Chinese New Years in general, also as an opportunity to try to actually set down some resolutions, and yours sounds very much like the only one I really feel like concentrating on this year.


  12. I know it is late in the day for New Year greetings but they are given anyway. I didn’t make any resolutions this year either although I do have a grand plan which has blurry corners, moveable goal posts and if it happens I will be ecstatic but if only a part does then that is okay too – there is always next year. If none of it happens – hopefully what I have filled the year in doing gives me and others as much joy as the original plan was supposed to do. Looking forward to another year with you.


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