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One Writer’s Thanksgiving Reflection

November 23, 2012

Last Thanksgiving – 2011 – I blogged on “a writer’s thanksgiving.” It was about being grateful in areas of our lives distinct to writers ( My turn to blog comes up at Thanksgiving again in 2012 and for that I’m grateful too. This is a wonderful time of year to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re going — as writers and as people.
First of all, on the tail of Hurricane Sandy, this year in particular is a time to rejoice in being alive with a roof over our heads and our loved ones safe. Living on the East Coast close to the devastation in New Jersey and New York drives that point home. Sandy Cody wrote so eloquently about this earlier in the month ( Bucks County, Pennsylvania – where all three of us who write this blog live – had its share of devastation but the event drew relatives, friends and neighbors closer together and showed our strength as a people. Any natural disaster has a way of putting our problems in perspective. Why sweat the small stuff when we should simply be grateful to be on this beautiful earth to live and write for another day?
Here are four more writer-ly things for which I’m particularly grateful for in 2012:

Great Writing
I’ve read some truly superb books this year, from classics I somehow missed like Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped and J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, to new nonfiction like Susan Orlean’s Rin Tin Tin and Nora Ephron’s I Remember Nothing (we also said goodbye to Ephron in 2012). I think the two new novels that stand out the most from my year of reading were March by Geraldine Brooks (a fabulous imagining of the life of Mr. March, the fictional absent father of Little Women fame), and the YA historical fiction novel Between Shades of Gray by new novelist Ruta Sepetys. I believe that reading and writing absolutely go hand-in-hand: reading teaches craft and craft makes us appreciate good writing all the more.
Travel to Inspire
This was the year of my working trip to Scotland. A course I taught on Classic Scottish Children’s Literature in the spring culminated in a week based in Edinburgh to explore those literary connections. Does work get any better than walking in the footsteps of Stevenson and Robert Burns.? Seeing 27 students inspired by a whole new world was a gift. This year I also acquired a wonderful son-in-law. The couple lives in the Boston area and that gives me a wonderful opportunity to travel frequently to New England – an area I’ve always been particularly attuned to. My head is already brimming with book ideas. I am full of gratitude for the opportunity I had this year to travel for inspiration.
A Community of Writers
As always, the writers in my life have been endlessly supportive. From my husband and son and daughter to my blogging buddies and colleagues, I do not write in a vacuum. I am also grateful to my students from whom I learn and draw so much inspiration.
New Writing Challenges
A series of small events over the last year and a half – perhaps beginning with attending my daughter’s MFA graduation at Goucher College in August 2011 – have conspired to launch me on a great adventure that starts in January. Despite my age (not young) and varied responsibilities, I will start a low residency MFA program in Writing for Children & Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts in January. Doors are opening to me in a pretty amazing way and I believe that this is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to both inform my teaching and advance my craft. It’s never too late for a writer to learn more about this fabulous thing called writing.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 24, 2012 10:08 AM

    Nice post, Gretchen – puts the year in perspective. I’m excited for you and the new road you’ll be taking in the coming year. Proud too that I’ve been associated with you these past few years. I’ve learned much from you.

  2. November 24, 2012 10:11 PM

    Thanks, Sandy. I feel the same way about you.

  3. November 25, 2012 9:54 AM

    The very best of luck in the new life that is starting for you in 2013. Life is not about getting older, it’s about getting wiser and jumping at every opportunity that comes our way. I hope you will still find time to post on Birth of a Novel

  4. November 27, 2012 8:10 AM

    I’m a little late in replying to your post, Gretchen, but it’s beautiful and well-written — as usual! I’m also excited for your new venture which is going to be amazing. And I’m so thankful to be in your company and Sandy’s, such wonderful women and writers.

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