Today marks the Winter Solstice. What does that mean, exactly? Historically, the day means a lot of things to many faiths, but what does it mean to you as a person? For me, it’s a time for reflection but also a time to look ahead at the new year.
For the past two solstices, we were recovering from the blow of losing our home and everything in it. I spent my time calming the inner turmoil and freeing myself from whatever guilt, shame, anger, shock, and all the other emotions that come with losing everything to wildfire. By the end of 2021, I was ready to begin writing again.
In January, I started a spreadsheet and tracked my daily writing habits. If 2022 is any indication of trends, I’ll write more in the winter than in the summer, which makes sense. On the other hand, it’s only one year, and I’m unsure whether my writing habits will smooth out over time. Last year, I was champing at the bit to get started and bolted out of the gate. We’ll see what 2023 brings.
While I focused on my writing in 2022, the rest of our lives weren’t without challenges. The government lender forced the builder to put our house on the production line months before the site was ready—before we had our building permit. Now it sits on the sales lot a hundred miles away, waiting until we can get someone to commit to delivering it up the mountain and setting it on the foundation.
The county picked nits for weeks before we secured our building permit, another of our numerous delays. No one was willing (or able?) to do the math to figure out whether our roof would support a snow load of 156 lbs instead of 140 lbs. When we finally did get our hot little hands on the permit, the height of building season was upon us, as well as the associated supply and subcontractor delays that followed. Because of the various holdups in securing our paperwork, Mr. Contractor lost his crews, so he had to cast a wider net to find help, leading to more delays.
Then came fall, and the cold weather rolled in. We finally got the footers and basement walls poured and cured, and the coldest weather hit—with a vengeance. Temperatures plunged into the 30s and 40s °F (0°C to 5°C for my foreign readers) during the day. They’ve been dropping into the teens and single digits at night (-7°C to -13°C). The high temperatures will get in the single digits for the next two days and below 0°F (-15°C to -30°C) without a wind chill. Brr, shiver. That’s a bit cold to pour the slab. So, it will be poured after the house is set. Unfortunately, the snow, ice, and wind come with the cold. And that, my friends, is what I believe is holding us up—the wind, although I have not heard one driver give a reason beyond “I can’t.” Whether they are telling our sales rep to wait until spring, I don’t know.
As frustrating as this year has been on the home-building front, other areas of our lives have settled into a routine: I spend much of my day writing or playing games in my office. I run my personal errands once a week and, on weekends, set up a D&D table with the kids if everyone is available to play. First Reader can’t sit still, so she spends her days like she did before we lost the house—running around town on a different quest every day. She takes our recycling to the recycle center, ensures we stay stocked with groceries and other household items, and runs back and forth to storage as needed. We each find ways to keep ourselves from losing our minds while we wait.
I wrote a book during National Novel Writing Month. I am beyond giddy at that. I began that novel almost forty years ago, and while the plot changed, the characters remained the same. I started with a rough idea of the overall plot, then began writing. Being a “pantser,” I had no idea how the story would end when I started. Three days before the end of NaNoWriMo, I thought I’d still be writing into December. Then the ending flashed, and I had it. I was almost surprised when I realized that it couldn’t have ended any other way. Overall, it was an experience that I’ll repeat again.
I’m sitting on the manuscript as I let the story rest. In the meantime, another writer has asked me to edit his latest novel. I’ve spent the last week or more deep reading a book that is out of my usual genre (post-apocalyptic cyberpunk), but it’s still a good read. This is book three in a series, and I helped edit books one and two, so my feedback is not entirely without merit. Should you want to read the first two volumes, they’re available on Amazon (Book 1: Foxtrot Tango Wasteland, Book 2: When We Were At War, Author: D. Tarelli), check them out.
After the new year, I’ll revisit my manuscript and begin the first revision, an effort that I am both looking forward to and dreading. I’ve printed it out so First Reader can look it over and let me know where the glaring holes are before I begin futzing around with it. I have a couple of other readers, and one read the very raw first draft as I wrote—he liked it a lot. My other friend reading it has had a few more comments to add, mostly grammatical.
Overall, 2022 was a good year, despite still taking up space with Best Riding Buddy. We had a roof over our heads, food on the table, and good friends at our backs. My dog makes sure I get out almost every day to get fresh air, exercise, and meet other dogs with people at the ends of leashes. It does wonders for my outlook on life, even when it’s below freezing outside.
I expect 2023 to begin much like 2022 ends; after all, it is winter, and not much moves in this kind of bitter cold. After the spring thaw, I hope life moves forward, and we are back on the mountain sooner than later. I have a novel to revise and one in the back of my head, looking for a resolution. I have two D&D campaign storylines to write (one for kids, one for adults) as the Games Master and two more in which I play a character.
This coming year will be one of change for us. Change we are looking forward to.
I wish you all the happiest of holidays.
Follow me on Facebook at JJ Shaun.