If you would have told me twelve months ago where I’d be at the end of 2011, I would have called you a liar, yes… but I also would have kicked you in the shin for getting my hopes up. At this time last year, I had no idea I would be where I am right now and I have to say, it’s a pretty good place. In 2011, my whole life changed. And I even got some writing done.

In June, I quit my job of thirteen years and moved out of the state. I wasn’t happy and I hadn’t been for a very long time. The cause of this unhappiness was not the fault of my former employer. In fact, I worked for a good company. The trouble was, as good of a job as it was, it had nothing to do with me. What I mean is, I think there comes a point in every person’s life when he or she needs to look at his or her vocation and ask, “Am I doing something that only I can do? Is what I’m doing using any of my personal strengths? Are any of my needs being met by this job?” The answer to these questions for me was a very clear “no.” I knew that early on of course, but it took the right set of circumstances and me gathering enough courage to give fear of failure the middle finger before I dared to take the leap. But I finally did. And it was not a mistake.

The month of August I was in New Orleans where I spent several days with David, my best friend from childhood. We explored the entire French Quarter. We went on vampire, ghost and voodoo tours. We met fascinating people from all over the world. We saw boobs. I wore my pajamas down Bourbon Street. It rocked.

From there, I visited my father-in-law in Georgia where we went to several Civil War museums, saw numerous Antebellum-style homes, learned everything we could about the south and the Civil War, and visited the Cabbage Patch Factory (it was amazing… really).

After that, it was off to Myrtle Beach. We played in the ocean, ran in the rain, and went to famous aquariums, zoos and restaurants.

When the vacation was over, I was ready to get settled into my new life in a new location. I found a job that I absolutely love and just last week, I flew home from New York City where we spent several days. With all of that traveling, I still managed to accomplish many of my writing-related goals, too.

At this time last year, my manuscript, The White Room, was in New York being looked at by an agent.  My mentor Kim and I were just getting ready to start on the story we’re now calling Gallery of Dolls. I don’t think I had even gotten the idea for Alejandro, the book I’m working on now, but I’m sure it was somewhere in my mind, bouncing around and trying to take shape.

Presently, The White Room is still looking for a home, Gallery of Dolls is in the final stages of revisions (and will be ready for submissions within the next month or so!), I’m about five chapters into Alejandro, and Kim and I are tentatively plotting a new idea for our next collaborative effort which we’re thinking will be a story involving witchcraft, love, family betrayal and the Black Plague.

Also, whereas the past year and a half has been devoted to becoming educated on the art of novel-writing, proper grammar, and English in general, I think 2012 will bring me a deeper understanding of the business side of the writing equation: the publishing industry. My new job is one that puts me right in the center of all the publishing excitement! On a regular basis, I get to talk to other writers and even book publishers. I am learning which publishers publish what, why the publishing industry is currently so tough, and (tentatively) when and how we can expect it to turn around. My new job  is thoroughly educating me on the thing I love more than anything: writing… that is a perk I did not expect when I took this job.

If I were to try to summarize the last year and somehow label it, I would say 2011 was a year for soul-searching.  Having exhausted my capacity for impotent wish, this year I purposely walked into unknown territory and made life a verb again. I am working on some New Years Resolutions but I’ve learned that goal-setting needs to be tended to far more often than just once a year. That being said, I hope that 2012 is as productive and happy as 2011 was. I hope this for me and for you!

Happy Holidays and keep writing!

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Comments
  1. Linda Bennett says:

    Jared, I am truly so very happy for you, my young friend. I do hope that you achieve all you set out to do in 2012. May God continue to bless you and May you and your’s have the most wonderful New Year.

  2. Kim Justesen says:

    You’ve done an amazing job, despite the chaos we both know and lived through. I’m so very proud of you, and so honored to call you friend.

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