The winter holidays are both about giving thanks and making plans for the new year, about looking back in gratitude and ahead with resolve. Here’s a partial list of what we writers can be grateful for as we look ahead to making the new year our most creative ever.
I am thankful for the power of story to heal us and connect us and empower us.
I am thankful to stand on the shoulders of giants. That Boccaccio discovered “ordinary” people were complex and conflicted and quirky. That Shakespeare taught us to turn a word. That Chekov showed us the short story. That Atwood and Le Guin, O’Connor and Steinbeck, and all the rest in their varying greatness lead us into the labyrinths within us and sometimes show us a little light on the other side.
I am thankful that writing is a cheap endeavor. That we don’t need equipment or supplies. That a story can be written on a paper bag or a prison wall. That I’ll never fail to convey my vision simply because I’ve run out of burnt umber.
On the other hand, I am thankful for computers and the internet that serve up the whole world and all the ages of history right to my desk so that I can write books I could never have written without them.
I am thankful that so many people realize the importance of story and are so willing to give their time to us writers to show us places, tell us stories, discuss their research. I am thankful for scientists of all fields and scholars of all fields and experts of all fields who probe and publish their findings, for all information is fodder for a story.
I am thankful for other writers around the world who are willing to write about their ideas of craft or their sources of inspiration or the mystical, magical process of creation to help me understand what the heck I’m doing. I am thankful for the writers I know who think two hours discussing our plots is just the best way to spend an afternoon and who pray for me and ask me hard questions about my characters and hold my feet to the fire when I don’t produce.
I am thankful for the vast numbers of readers who buy books because they long to experience life through other lens and who appreciate a well-written story and who make us feel that what we do is important.
I am thankful that at this stage of my life I have let go of some the perfectionism in other areas that was consuming my time and energy and holding back my writing.
We are carried on the shoulders of a vast crowd: the writers who have gone before, the people who daily contribute to the total collection of world knowledge, the people who share with us in interviews and otherwise support our research, and especially, the readers who believe that stories matter. Writers are a winning team, lifted to the skies by fans of a good story, buoyed up by support and appreciation of our efforts.
We are the storytellers, honored since the first ones told around the fire what they saw across the far mountain or how they escaped that sabertooth tiger or how that star is a god and that one is a dog.
We are the storytellers, and I am thankful to be one.