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Monday, January 03, 2005

Happy New Year

I love the New Year. The optimist in me relishes the thought of a fresh start and the hope that this year will be better than the last. And, quite frankly, 2004 was a doozer for many reasons. But that's in the past and I'm all about renewal.

This year I've started with a greater sense of clarity about the kind of work I want to be doing. There are certain things I've done to make money that don't necessarily fulfill. There are others that don't make much money yet seem to fulfill immensely. Somehow, I'll have to find the balance between the two. That is the unending conundrum, no?

I've recently completed several pieces that have stretched my writing abilities. Just today my colleague Brian Willse from Newbomb Design and I sent our first book project to the printer. It's a wrap-up book on the 2004 International Children's Games that Brian and I worked on with the good folks at the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission. This was a pro bono project, but infinitely satisfying. The book will be announced in the next several weeks at a press conference. And Brian and I are hopeful that it will be the first of many projects on which we collaborate.

Creative Ink has really been a training ground of sorts for the kind of work I'd like to do – namely personal essays. I just completed my first thanks to the kind referral from Plain Dealer Book Editor Karen Sandstrom. And speaking of Karen, I also completed my first longer book review for the Sunday book pages.

This week finds my head bursting with ideas, a sometimes-frustrating state because it's impossible to pursue them all. But at least at this time of the year I'm better at writing them down (and getting them out of my head).

For some time, fellow bloggers have asked why I don't have comments on Creative Ink. Quite simply, I felt there weren't that many people reading who would be compelled to comment. And those who did, often emailed me directly. Between you, me and the fencepost, I was a little nervous about opening myself up for criticism. But that's another thing about the new year, I'm going to muster the courage that's been holding me back. I've only myself to blame for missed opportunities. So post your comments. I'm delighted to hear from supporters and critics alike.

I'd love to write about travel (in addition to books) and have the opportunity (as do you!) to meet the Boston Globe's Tom Haines, the 2003 Travel Writer of the Year, at a Writers Salon at 4 p.m. tomorrow at Talkies Film & Coffeebar, 2521 Market Ave. Thanks to my very good friend and prolific writer John Ettorre and his good pal, (whom I had the pleasure of meeting last week) Anton Zuiker, a group of writers will gather to discuss Words That Move.

John says, "Be prepared to talk about writing, journalism, weblogs and other topics. Bring a sample of your writing to share, or an article of interest you'd like others to know about. Theme is Words That Move, so the conversation may meander from travel writing to writing that moves a person to tears (good writing or, ahem, bad writing) to a memoir of relocating."

And I just learned that CSU's Department of English and Creative Writing Program is hosting Imagination2 2005 on five Saturdays from Feb. 19 to March 26. The cost is $69.95 for all sessions covering fiction, poetry, essay and memoir. You can email for more information.

Ah, yes, the start of the year raises the possibility of every good thing.

This is also a time when I take to reading more serious works (in between reading review books). Currently I'm reading "Lincoln's War" by Geoffrey Perret.

What is it about the winter that compels me to read Russian literature? It can't be as trite as the winter weather. No, methinks it has more to do with time more readily available for digesting these lengthy and complex works. In past winters, I've read Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and Chekhov and this year I think I'll read Boris Pasternak's "Dr. Zhivago." Saw the new Masterpiece Theater version on PBS in December and found it far more moving than the 1960's Julie Christie/Omar Sharif version.

So in the interest of feeding my passionate Cossack roots I leave you today with this marvelous quote about love from Anton Chekhov:

"Perhaps the feelings that we experience when we are in love represent a normal state. Being in love shows a person who he should be."

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