Birthday celebrations always kind of baffled me, even when I was a little kid. I liked parties and cake, but it always seemed like there should be something more meaningful about the day I began my life than goofy party games and presents.
I left home at 17 and stopped having birthday parties immediately. I went to other people's B-day celebrations and had fun, but my own birthday felt like just another day to me. I kind of wanted it to be Something Important. I knew blowing out candles and opening gifts wasn’t what I was looking for, but I had no idea what was.
Then one year, it came to me. My birthday was my own personal’s New Year’s Day, the first day of my next year on the planet. So for a long time I have used a few hours on every one of my personal NewYears Day to think about where I am, what I want, where I am going, and whatever else...and because I am a writer, I write it down. Sometimes it winds up as a poem. Often, it’s a list, sometimes a paragraph, twice it has become a short story, but it always contains what is on my mind as I begin another year of my life.
And as silly as it may sound, The Birthday/Personal NewYear's Day project is the reason I am a professional writer. It struck me one year that what I had dreamed of doing since fourth grade had been set aside, year after year, mostly for good reasons--but still, set aside. I wrote a passionate, angry paragraph from me to me, mostly about getting off my ass, getting serious, making time, making it happen. Three years and a steep learning curve later, my first book came out. This year’s Personal New Year is coming up: and I am figuring out what needs figuring out. One thing I want to do more of is to encourage young writers.
Devyn has finished a book this year. So on his birthday, out loud and in public, I am standing here cheering for someone who is taking his life and his dream seriously. Happy Personal New Year, Devyn!!!!! May it bring you all good things.