polaroid of a teacup and pens on a table | Esmé weijun wang

2015 is, for me, about bringing forth conversations about building a creative legacy sustainably, and with resilience.

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For the Solstice yesterday — which was also the New Moon, and also Yule — I burrowed beneath the covers with a perfectly smooth stone, a pen, and a pile of notebooks. I have a green Filofax for personal endeavors and a hot pink Filofax for business matters. I use one spiral-bound notebook as a planner and another as a notebook for business ideas and brainstorming. My small glass jar with a wide lip holds thin colored pens, gel highlighters, and a few Pilot V5s. I journaled. I switched back and forth between audiobooks and podcasts. I felt the weight of an unarmed sky sink quietly around everything.

When the big, hurricane-caliber storm hit us a bit over a week ago, Chris and I spent the day assembling emergency supplies, sandbagging the area around the house, and waiting for the rain and wind to come. The storm — which Twitter had already named #deathstorm2014 and #stormpocalypse — was predicted to hit at 10 PM. The worst of it, the meteorologists said, would be over by noon the next day.

While Chris and I sat in my office, I mentioned that it seemed very quiet. And we listened — it did seem quiet, and especially quiet given that downtown had been bumper-to-bumper with traffic all afternoon and evening, and quiet given that my PTSD symptoms were aggravated not only by the anxiety of the approaching storm but also by the sirens, which seemed to come and come and come without end.

He said, “It is very quiet, isn’t it.”

We realized, simultaneously, that this was what people mean when they say, “The calm before the storm.” I’d never experienced it before. It was a silence that reminded me of the silence of the year’s first snow when I lived in Michigan, when the white coming down slowly blanketed everything with itself, and briefly muffled all human concerns.

view of feet looking down in bed

With the approach of 2015, I’ve done a few things. I’ve reviewed the year with Susannah Conway’s yearly, free-of-charge Unravelling the Year Ahead 2015, which I’ve done since she began it five or six years ago, and which I still find to be a helpful review and a helpful gauge of my hopes for the new year; I’ve enrolled in Cornerstone, Laura Simms’ simple and affordable business-planning program, and for which I am a proud affiliate; I’ve chosen a Word of the Year. I have a year-long calendar — a giant, poster-sized calendar that continuously depicts 2015 in one go — taped to my wall with launch dates and Mercury Retrogrades.

The new year is always full of promise for me. I plant dream-seeds and hope they sprout. I mourn over what didn’t work, but I look ahead.

Though I’m not yet ready to explain everything that I’d like to share with you next year, I will say that the site is undergoing a conversational shift. I’ve been interested in the idea of legacy for a good long while (and I did have a giggle when the aforementioned Laura shared this piece, which is in part about someone being damn sick of the word “legacy”), but where I want to go next is to talk about creative legacy in particular.

When I speak to my creative friends, peers, and colleagues, I know that they are working, working, working. I see them struggle with both extrinsic forces, such as professional rejection and the need to pay off student loans, as well as intrinsic forces, including anxiety about security (why write? why paint? why do this at all?) and — yes — even legacy.

Legacy, I will clarify, is less about leaving work that will be discovered millennia from now by extraterrestrials, and pored over as an example of the extraordinary, extinct human mind, and more about creating work that has an impact of some kind. What kind of impact we try to have will vary.

This also has to do with resilience, about which I’ve been consistently speaking in my writing here. I discuss resilience in terms of mental illness and trauma, but such lessons are essential for everyone. Without resilience, we cannot do our work. Our lives suffer.

2015 is, for me, about bringing forth conversations about building a creative legacy sustainably, and with resilience.

More concretely, February will mark the arrival of a free workbook and audio called Where’s the Electricity?, which is about using obsessions and themes in order to fuel one’s work. I’ll also be co-teaching a workshop on a similar subject here in San Francisco that month, with details to come for those of you who might want to mosey on over (do subscribe to my e-letter to be kept in the loop!). The e-course that I taught in late 2013, Rawness of Remembering: Restorative Journaling Through Difficult Times, will finally be returning as a gorgeous multimedia program to be consulted at any time, and with more substance and resources than its predecessor had. I’m excited about these things; I’m excited about the things that will be coming in the months after that.

And with that, I leave you till the new year. I’m so proud of you, and so grateful for everything that you’ve given me this year. Be well. Be safe. Thank you.