What’s your word for the year?
Jill asks me this each December. Most years I choose something strong and inspirational, something that shows how far I’ve come or what I’ve achieved. But this year I squirmed when she asked.
Honestly my word is failure, I told her. It was very dramatic. It was sincerely how I felt.
I don’t know if I would say your word is failure, she gently corrected. I think your word is try.
She’s right, of course. But oof, what a vulnerable word it is.
I tried so hard last year. Particularly at the creative endeavors of writing and baby-making.
It may seem strange that I put them on the same plane, but they are equally important to me and have proven equally difficult. Or perhaps each has exacted much more trying than I wanted it to.
I have never been a fan of this notion that one tries to get pregnant. I remember vividly the first time I heard that phrase: we’re trying. I thought I would vomit.
I hated it because it burdened sex with effort, and that made no sense. To my adolescent mind, sex was the mystical something that happened between the scene where the beautiful people passionately kissed and when they woke up in bed with the sheets pulled up to their bare shoulders. Who know what it was, but it certainly did not require effort!
Sex just happened! And then babies happened! With that offscreen movie magic that was magical precisely because it was not intentional, or explained, or took anything like trying.
Strangely I think the most difficult part of infertility for me has been accepting that I have to try so especially hard at it. Why can’t it be a surprise?! I whine. Even an accident! I find myself supremely irked that I must poke myself with needles and pay gobs of money to have a kid that will destroy my sleep schedule when it “just happens” for others.
This reaction is especially strange given that I’ve spent so much of my life pursuing creativity. I know by now that passion is far less important than work, and yet still I balk at the demand that I be vulnerable for what I create.
In 2018 I finally sent my writing out into the world. Of course, I’ve been spamming my personal blogs and social channels with it for a good decade now, but in 2018 I cold-contacted strangers and asked, would you maybe possibly please publish my stuff?
What a joyless use of writing time. What an act of insane faith.
It took 30 years to get up the courage to send my writing out, and guess what happened when I did? You’re right - rejection letters!
I have long known these are the rite of passage for a writer. A small part of me even weirdly longed for the day I would start collecting them, because at least it means you’re on the path.
The day(s) came in 2018. They are as un-fun as advertised.
I tried so hard last year, and I have nothing tangible to show for it. If I did, my word would be something sparkly like create, or pregnant, or published. I want that word so much, and if I can’t have it, I’ll pout and pick “failure.”
I tried so hard last year and what I have painfully learned is that the climax to this story is not life bestowing success upon me but rather asking the gut-punch of a question: will you keep trying?
Will your heart keep hoping for the family that is so hard to come by? Will your fingers type another query and another and another after that?
It has thrown me off to not be able to sum up my year in a word, to lose the satisfaction of slapping one clean label on the package of 365 days and putting it away as 2018. But last year will spill into this one because trying by definition is inconclusive. It means the jury is still out, the outcome still awaited.
It is such a vulnerable word.
I don’t want “try” to be my word for 2019. But I suppose if I’m brave enough it might be “try again.”
Do you have a word for the year? I’d like to hear it, if so.