Next Year People

If you watched any of the cheery Ken Burn’s documentary on the Dustbowl, you might recognize that phrase. He used it for farmers, the kind who stayed on in the bad years, constantly thinking that next year would be better.

Back in the dark ages when I was taking aptitude tests at Texas Tech, one of the recommended occupations that came up for me was Farmer. Now, there’s a lot about the idea of farming that I like, but the utter lack of certainty was the thing that nixed any likelihood of me ever tackling that occupation. I’m not a gambler. I’m not a risk taker.

Yet we writers are all ‘Next Year People’ too.

As December rolls around, we convince ourselves that next year will be the one: the big sale that makes us solvent, the agent who will make all our dreams come true, the book deal that will transform us into the next J.K. Rowling. Or maybe we’re just hoping for our first sale….or our first pro sale. Perhaps we want to qualify for SFWA, make the Campbells, come off with a nomination. Or just have a nice review or two. Or any review at all.

That’s what writers are made of. It’s the same crazy stuff that gets farmers to plow in fields that are ravaged by drought. We live on Hope. We won’t survive this without it.

For me, 2013 means a novel debut…if nothing goes agley. Perhaps there will be a couple of short story publications in there as well. Maybe the book publication will result in higher ebook sales. I can only hope. It’s ‘Next Year’.

For me, hope isn’t all that difficult. I’m wired that way, larded with equal parts optomism and cynicism. On the occasions when I do get ‘down’ (say, after looking at GoodReads ratings) I bounce back very quickly. (This is probably why they thought I’d make a decent farmer.) I’m the thing with feathers.

I sometimes wonder how people who are less optomistic by nature survive this often soul-sucking process. I suspect chocolate is involved. Or perhaps alcohol.

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