The fragrances of nutmeg, sage, cooked pumpkin and cranberries linger in the kitchen. I take my mug of tea on the deck. Here in my small, quiet corner of California the air is crisp but the sun warm on my skin. A squirrel digs frantically behind the rosemary bush and a family of quails scatter away. The native oaks haven’t lost their leaves yet and the big cloudless western sky spreads above my head.
This long Thanksgiving weekend foreshadows the upcoming holiday season when the happy padding of my children’s young feet in the hallways and stairs bring renewed energy to every room of the house.
The high-pitched voices of much younger kids playing in the neighborhood scare the humming birds hovering above the birdbath.
The turmoil of the world is distant and almost inexistent.
Last night as my family gave thanks around a dinner, we all knew we have a lot to be thankful for.
And today as I mentally check the leftovers for our extended family dinner, I think that the day after Thanksgiving is in some ways similar to the beginning of a new year.
Full of promise and anxiety.
The turkey was perfectly roasted and the purees smoothly mashed. The pumpkin pie was silky and the table beautiful under the candlelight.
The promise of a lovely family dinner has been reached.
But now I can’t help anxiety to hum its pessimistic note.
Where we will we be a year from today?
Will we be as healthy and as joyful?
I think of my writing, too.
What will I have accomplished a year from today?
Will I have honed my skills?
Exactly a year ago, I was releasing my novel Trapped in Paris and was having my first signing on Small Business Day at my local bookshop.
I had planned for another book in the fall.
But my unexpected summer trip to France to bury my father, the mourning of a great dad, and the regular complexity of life have derailed my plans. My next novel for middle graders will be released in the first part of 2014.
I have also doubted a lot while writing the first draft of a new novel.
Is this story really worth telling? Will I be able to create with words the scenes I have in mind? How can I write fresh metaphors and avoid clichés? How to make sure I’m not sending my own message through my fictional characters?
I have also been lazy.
This draft should be down by now.
I have also lived on a roller coaster with my memoir manuscript, which is currently circulating for a second round of reading in a California based publishing company.
My mug of tea is cold by now and I retrieve inside to brew a new pot.
I go through the pictures I took over the last two days.
Calm fills me.
Somehow I will find a way to balance promise and anxiety.