The motto of the College of Advanced Education where I studied in the late 70s and early 80s was Look to the Past and Future Together. The CAE has morphed since then and the motto has changed, but the original one has always resonated with me as I am a great believer in the preservation of history, and also how history informs the future.
This belief underpins most of my writing and other activities. It has, however, been enriched by the notion that in any given moment we are between what has been and what is to come.
‘Stating the obvious’, I hear you say.
Well, yes, it is… but how often do we fully focus on that moment? ~ the one I call ‘The Golden Moment’ ~ that space which is free of the past and the future, and is totally open to anything.
The decisions we make in that Golden Moment, whether conscious or subconscious, big or small, dictate what happens next (the immediate future) and whatever that is dictates the following outcome… and so on, building one on another, and again, and more… until we look back and wonder what we might be doing if any of these incremental decisions had been different.
Many of these Golden Moment decisions are inconsequential in the overall fabric of our lives; others can have a huge impact on us, and sometimes other people as well.
I am not suggesting we need to analyse our thoughts every second of every day. Of course not. What I am saying though is that it is easy to slip into the daily goings-on, especially if they are routine and have a sense of rhythm about them, and not think much about the bigger picture or the rolling away of days, weeks, and months… and dare I say it, years.
As someone who is approaching a significant ‘zero’ birthday, I think I am qualified to add ‘years’ to the list.
The past year would be a good example… an unprecedented year for everyone, a year we would all rather forget; but can’t for many reasons, not the least of which is that it has extended into 2021.
My strategy in difficult times has always been to take a deep breath, put one foot in front of the other and focus on the possibilities rather than the negatives. 2020 was no different… the fires were first and, while we had to dash for our lives, we were spared and so was our home… our losses were significant, but small compared to those of many others in fire-affected areas.
Next was the onset of COVID-19 in Australia. My strategy here was the same, but this time putting one foot in front of the other didn’t mean charging out and getting on with life. It meant staying in and taking advantage of the time and space this afforded me. I had just assessed my 2020 writing achievements and set a ‘To Do’ list for the remainder of the year, so I battened down the hatches and focussed on my writing.
I wrote most days, spent long hours in my office and made much progress. By the end of the year, I was able to cross off many items on my list:
- One manuscript went to my preferred publisher, and I am working through her considered suggestions with one of her colleagues. Was this on my list? Yes. Was my stated task completed? Yes. Is there a next step? Yes… I will continue to strive for publication of this manuscript, either with this publisher or via a different avenue.
- While waiting for that manuscript to be read by others, I concentrated on research, note-taking and preliminary writing for a mixed-genre manuscript which is slowly but surely developing. Was this on my list? Yes. Was my stated task completed? Yes. Is there a next step? Yes… I will bring together the research I have done and continue writing sections of this manuscript.
- I summarised notes and developed planning frameworks for two novellas. Was this on my list? Yes. Was my stated task completed? Partly… Is there a next step? Yes… I will write the draft of at least one novella.
- My poetry chapbook manuscript was completed and travelled via Submittable to two international competitions. Was this on my list? Yes. Was my stated task completed? Yes, twice. Is there a next step? Yes… I will work towards publication of this Chapbook.
- I continued to enter writing competitions, and was again shortlisted in the E.M. Fletcher Award, gained a place and received a certificate… not 1st place this time, but I am happy to have my work on their list. My entry, Survival, was published in the Heraldry and Genealogy Society of Canberra (HAGSOC)’s Journal in December, as had my winning entry, All At Sea, the previous year. Was this on my list? Yes. Was my stated task completed? Yes. Is there a next step? Yes… I will submit to this competition again.
- All At Sea was also published by Casino and District Family History Group (CDFHG) in August 2020. Was this on my list? No. Is there a next step? Yes… I will offer Survival to CDFHG for publication in 2021.
I am happy to report this progress on the above projects, and that these goals have been largely met. The bonus in listing them here is that it clearly shows the next steps I need to take. These are stated as affirmations and underlined at the end of each point above.
A re-assessment of my goals part-way through the year, based on the level of progress I had made, led to the removal of two items. The first, ‘Work towards publication of two poetry manuscripts’, was replaced by the expansion of my poetry chapbook and getting it out to a second international competition. Poetry manuscripts will find their way to my goals list again before too long. The second, ‘Embrace book promotion’, was/is not yet needed… but hopefully it will be before the end of 2021!
Next, I must face the fact that I have failed miserably in relation to my website and my social media presence. I made no progress here at all, and even posted far fewer times than any other year since launching my site. This continues to be true one month into the new year. There is no excuse for this, and the only explanation I can offer is the distraction of the events that have kept us all on tender hooks even when we thought they were not influencing us personally.
As I step through the space of this Golden Moment, with the past behind and future ahead, my promise is to increase my presence on my website and social media for the remainder of this year, while weaving my way through my new list of writing commitments.
I would value your thoughts and feedback in the Comments section on this page.
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