The Gift of January

Second week of the new year. We’ve had some arctic cold, a bunch of snow, a few domestic tornadoes, but, hopefully, they will soon be winding down.  I’m starting thus entry far later in the day than I had planned, as we have a full house today. Real Life Romance Hero is eager to get back to work, and Housemate is down with a winter bug. Skye is ensconced in her favorite spot in front of the living room radiator, possibly dreaming of how she will finally catch the mousies that live in my phone, the next time I load one of her cat games. Light snow is falling outside, and, by Friday, the subzero temperatures will be replaced by the near-tropical forecast around the fifty degree mark.

Welcome to January. When I went to set up my planner pages for the coming week, I didn’t want to stick with the same color palette that had seen me through fall and this much of the winter. I’d wanted to use a more Christmassy color scheme for December, but, as December was pretty much a poop show, I never got around to that, but it’s January now. There’s a new calendar in the kitchen, RLRH is on the mend, and my schedule is filling with things like critique and writing dates, scheduling a Skype session with Melva, a thirty day writing challenge, and, generally, a return to a focus on the writing life.


The sugar skull does not actually appear in my planner. It’s a sticker I slapped over some notes that are of no interest to anybody but me. I’ll fill in the actual events and appointments for the week later; the blog entries due (one, still, from last week) and times when, as per instructed in the workshop, I need to shut the door and do nothing but write.  Last night wasn’t about the planning, or the writing. Last night was about the January-ness of the next three weeks.

I hadn’t thought about January-ness much before. Last night, though, it was all about rifling through my stash of markers, to find the perfect mix of colors that would ground my brain in this particular part of the year. “Icy” colors weren’t right. I didn’t want to feel oold when I looked at my week, or at each individual day. I want to feel present and want to look at the page, want to do the things I have written on it. For some, this isn’t important, but, for me, it is. The right colors help me feel grounded. I am here. I am doing this. Marking off the sections for each day, each heading, stenciling in the letters (my days of the week are in Dutch) and numbers is part ritual, part recreation.

What it is, mostly, is foundation. While I’m normally a December kind of gal, this year, it’s all about January. Kind of cold, but I like cold weather. Kind of gray, but gray is one of my favorite color. This time of year is for new beginnings, and resolutions, and getting (back) in gear, and I can very much identify with all of that. Maybe it doesn’t come with as many sparkly lights as the Christmas season, but I do have a string of white fairy lights that will, at some point, be going up around my desk area. January does, however, come with calendars and planners, of which I highly approve.

Right now, the only writing tracker I have going is titled Did You Write? One box for each day. If yes, it gets filled. If no, it gets an x. So far, it’s all solid colors. I’m calling that good. Said colors started out in an icier palette, which put me too much in mind of Disney’s Frozen, which I have not seen, but the colors from my planner; those feel right. Those bring the January-ness to the fore, and make me want to fill in those boxes.

The start of a new year has a lot in common with getting back to normal life after a crisis. Some of the dust takes a while to settle, but the whole start as you mean to go on thing has a lot going for it. Even if I’m not feeling it on a particular day, that hour (at least) with the door closed, when I cannot do anything but write, that’s as important as the rest of the things on my schedule.

That’s the gift of January; the barrier of a closed door, the open page, the invitation for imaginary friends to come and do their things, no matter how crazy “real” life has been. How crazy it still is, for that matter. For me, this January comes wrapped in warm greys, soft blues, and muted greens, in pages and possibilities, and the invitation to, for at least that hour each day, leave the “real” world on the other side of the door. January sticks a stake in the ground, to mark the importance of story time, and my dedication to it. I think January may become one of my favorite months.


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