This time of year, I always reflect on what I do and do not want to do in the coming year, and then I name my goals and resolutions for the New Year. Perhaps more than any other year before this one, I plan to Reach for the Stars in 2023. You see, in 2022, I learned that it is possible to actually reach those stars–if only for a short while.
Hitch Your Wagon to the Stars – Ralph Waldo Emerson
In 2022, I had the great honor of signing my debut picture book The Donkey’s Song in several bookstores throughout the South, and I was able to see that Donkey was selling all around the USA. It was a dream come true for me, and I want to emphasize the fact that when my book was actually released for publication, I was 72. Now, I KNOW that dreams can come true–and that they can start coming true for us older folks, too. With that taste of success and a new year ahead of me, I plan to dig in harder than ever before, and again, I plan to Reach for the Stars. I definitely will not rest on my laurels.
“When a tree quits growing, it dies.”
Many, many years ago, I saw an illustration with a simple, crude stairway stretched toward heaven, and the words were inscribed: I Want! It may have been a William Blake illustration. I saw it at about the time that I was writing a master’s degree thesis about him, Today, it seems like that was a lifetime ago, but it was not. I am still alive and kicking, and I’m still setting new goals.
“You are Never too Old to Set Another Goal or to Dream Another Dream.” – C. S. Lewis
My First New Year’s Resolution for 2023 might shock you, but here it is:
- I Plan to SLOW Down and Read More.
For a writer, I probably don’t read nearly as much as I should. Even though I do not write for adults, I especially need to read more adult fiction.
“Read. Read. Read. Just don’t read one type of book. Read different books by various authors so that you develop different style.”
I have always felt that I didn’t have time to read, and I thought that I could magically skip that part of the journey. But The Hurrier I Have Gone, The Behinder I Have Gotten. – Anonymous
[I am quite sure that someone said that many years ago, but I am not sure who. I’ll just say that the quote is anonymous.]
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” ―
“Indeed, learning to write may be part of learning to read. For all I know, writing comes out of a superior devotion to reading.” ― On Writing
This is a paradox. I am getting older, and I have less time than I have ever had to do so, but I am finally taking more time to read.
“Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write.” ―
I’ve always made time to read picture books, and I’ll continue reading what other picture book writers have written and how.
2. In February, I plan to read at least ten picture books that somehow relate to Black History, and I plan to share those books on social media. I’ll create a social media event for February Black History Month, and you can join for a chance to win another signed copy of “The Donkey’s Song.”
“You really have to love words if you’re going to be a writer, because as a writer, you certainly spend a lot of time with words.” ― Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting
I have read several marvelous youth novels, but I need to read more. In my opinion, the best youth novel is Tuck Everlasting. I should read that again and again–at least once every month.
“There’s nothing wrong with reading a book you love over and over. When you do, the words get inside you, become a part of you, in a way that words in a book you’ve read only once can’t.”
― Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly
“You must write every single day of your life… You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads… may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” ―
I also love Ray Bradbury’s writing–especially Something Wicked This Way Comes. Bradbury’s writing is a tonic. I hope to find time to read more from this master.
“I am reading six books at once, the only way of reading; since, as you will agree, one book is only a single unaccompanied note, and to get the full sound, one needs ten others at the same time.”
― The Letters of Virginia Woolf: Volume Three, 1923-1928
Quite honestly, I have always read a lot of nonfiction books. As I am writing this post, I am reading 4 different nonfiction books, and I’m studying 2 picture books. I especially read a lot of mythology, and every time I undertake a new writing project, I research that project’s subject voraciously.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
― I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
I am currently researching several Bible stories as potential picture book ideas and for at least 2 nonfiction books, and one of my other new year’s resolutions, which is actually a subset of the first resolution, is to read the entire Bible cover to cover in 2023. I’ll also share some of that journey on social media, too. At the end of the year, I’ll award the most worthy participant a signed copy of The Donkey’s Song. You can read about that challenge in the following:
Although it is a bit early, I am formally announcing that I will not only read more in 2023, but I am inviting you to join me in the reading challenges that I launch in 2023.
#ReadtoWrite – Read to Write 2023 – Begins January 1, 2023, and that Challenge will last 365 Days.
#Bible365 – Read the Bible Cover to Cover in 365 Days. That challenge also begins on January 1. I will publish a reading schedule before the challenge begins. We will attack this project systematically — to be sure that we read the entire Bible. For instance, on January 1, we’ll read Genesis Chapters 1, 2, and 3.
Read Black History will begin on February 1, and it will end that same February.
I hope to have a different Read to Write challenge every month.
And Yes, There Will Be Prizes for all the events. Stay tuned.