I've been writing down stories since I learned how to write and telling them came before writing them. Making up strange creatures that lived in other lands, vast back stories for the Lego people my brother and I played with. I'm from a family of storytellers. We're loud and talkative and every conversation is usually five people all talking with multiple threads of conversation going at once where each person is expected to jump from one to the other, to follow those threads without losing track.
It's a daunting sort of thing to grow up into. I certainly have friends who've told me they're not quite sure how to join in these conversations that are half spoken, half remembered and entirely within the language of the family. It's English, but it's our English. Three of us are writers of the fictional variety, but everyone has dabbled at least a bit in storytelling.
My brother writes music and my dad likes to build viciously intricate campaigns for table-top gaming. It seemed only natural then, eventually, that I would wind my way back to storytelling. (At least, in retrospect). This past year I think I've found my way back to the initial story threads I first created. The ones that say more about me than I ever expected them to. This year showed me my weaknesses as a writer, and my strengths.
And more than anything, it made me feel like I'd progressed forward. For a long time I'd sort of felt like the apprentice aspiring higher than my skill level but now... I feel like I took a master level course in writing last year. I was pushed and prodded further than I have been in a long time and more than that--I feel as though I actually made it out with a greater understanding of my voice.
Grief over the death of my grandmother prompted a month long writing binge the likes of which I've never experienced. I wrote 5-6K words a day, clocking out the month with over 160K words. I didn't know what to make of the accomplishment, beyond that by the time I had finished the stories I was working on, I did feel a hell of lot better than I had before.
I'm not totally happy with everything I wrote in 2016. I wish I'd finished more of my WIPs. I wish I'd gotten a little further in my career. But what I did accomplish? Well, it's a hell of a lot more than I did in the year before.
I'm proud that I beta-read, I'm proud of my critique partners. I'm boggled by the number of people I've met and the writers that I'm now friends with. It's hard for me to believe some times that the little girl that wrote about a magical island with a unicorn living on it has become the woman who writes about...everything. I hope six-year-old me would be impressed.
I haven't quite mastered my craft yet, but I know that I'm getting closer. (As close as one can get to mastering the written word) With every story I tell, every word I force onto the page, I'm click-clacking closer to it.
I can't wait to see what words I write this year. I can't wait to see what my friends write this year.
In that, at least, I am looking forward.