Monday, November 24, 2008

Year of Gratitude by Danielle Younge-Ullman

In preparation for yogging with you wonderfully inspiring women, I was thinking of the many small things I am grateful for these days—the occasional extra thirty minutes of sleep, chili-flavored dark chocolate, a zillion cutenesses from my almost three-year-old, the way my husband makes me laugh—I could make a long list. (I still might.)

But as I think about the many things I’m grateful for this year, what I keep coming back to is challenge. I’ve had a challenging year and I don’t mean that euphemistically.

This August I had my debut novel, Falling Under, published and it was a dream-come-true. What I discovered, though, is having my dream come true was much more stressful, much harder work, more intense and full of potential heartbreak than I ever imagined. Along the road to this dream-come-true, I found a whole new world of conflict and paradox, of highs and lows, of challenges.

This year I learned what it’s like to attempt a full-time writing career with young child, a dog who thinks he’s my child, a husband who works erratic hours, a house in constant renovation and only part-time hours in which to do what feels like three or four full-time jobs. I read books on publicity, worked on publicity, conducted interviews with myself, interviews with others, I blogged, learned to pitch, wrote articles, recorded radio interviews and podcasts. I planned (and paid for and attended) two launch parties, traveled to New York, San Francisco, Boca Raton, New York again, Wisconsin and Hamilton Ontario. (And Minnesota next week!) I taught pilates two nights a week and did hundreds of hours of proofreading for a guy in Korea for money to pay for childcare. I lost weight, gained it back, did laundry, dishes, stayed up nights when my daughter was sick and slept through my writing hours the next day, panicked, calmed down, tried to work on my new book, panicked again, met with publicists and journalists, begged for blurbs from fellow authors, ran around signing copies of Falling Under, obsessed about my Amazon ranking, somehow finished my new book and and and…

And here I am.

Here I am, capable of more than I imagined but also aware I have much less time to do things than I imagined. Here I am, proud of myself and yet expecting more from myself every day and therefore more easily disappointed. Here I am deeper and stronger, more aware of joy and despair walking hand-in-hand, of exhaustion and fulfillment arriving together on the doorstep more often than not.

Here I am, reminding myself to be grateful, profoundly and humbly grateful, for the challenges presented to me, chosen by me, over this past year. I am better for them.

Thank you for having me—yog on!

Danielle Younge-Ullman has completed two novels and three plays. Her one-act play, 7 Acts of Intercourse, debuted at Toronto’s SummerWorks Festival in 2005 and her debut novel, FALLING UNDER, is newly released, published by Plume/Penguin. Danielle lives in Toronto with her husband, daughter, and their dog. Whenever she is not feeding, chasing after and/or entertaining the little beings, she is at work on her next novel.
(Read a review of Falling Under at Roses & Thorns.)

17 comments:

Kathryn Magendie said...

And I've read Falling Under - did a review on Roses and Thorns (maybe I should include a link! I think I will!) - it's a beautifully written book!

Barbara Quinn said...

Thanks so much for appearing at the YOG, Danielle, and for calling us wonderfully inspiring! You're a fine role model and it's good to learn about how you are doing all that you are doing with style, grace, and humor. Best of luck with all you do.

Kathryn Magendie said...

Oh! and again, yes! Thank you for being our guest! *smiling*

Angie Ledbetter said...

Wow, kudos on it all! What I like best about your post is that you make me feel normal, juggling so much so often. And you give fellow writers hope that success, despite it all, is truly possible. Thanks for sharing. Write on! (I'm adding a note to my personal blog for others to come read this today.)

Terri Tiffany said...

I really really enjoyed reading this! What an eyeopener to what you managed to do! But what a blessing for you that you are still grateful for the opportunity ...despite all the hard work. As writers--we often wonder how we handle writing stories and articles-I never imagined how hectic your life becomes with a book.

Janna Qualman said...

What great thoughts and inspirations you've shared in this post, Danielle. Thank you so much for being up-front about all the ups and downs, blessings and challenges, you've encountered along the way. I can identify with all you said -- with the exception that I'm waiting to hear from a considering publisher on my first novel. All the other aspects of your life mirror mine, and I could very well find myself in the same boat with my writing, too. I appreciate your honest look at the year you've had. Best to you!

PS. I was routed here by Angie Ledbetter. :D

Angie Ledbetter said...

Terri & Jana, thanks for following the linkage! It really is a FAB post, huh?

Danielle Younge-Ullman said...

Thank you Kathryn for inviting me and for your great words (and review!) of Falling Under.

And thanks to all you yoggers for having me here. Truly, I've been reading your posts and find this site to be so inspiring!

Barbara, if you saw my writing clothes, you might take back the "style" comment and possibly also the "grace" one, but I certainly have a sense of humor.

Angie, yes, much is possible, though I have certainly discovered some of my limitations this past year. But the juggling...it seems universal these days. Thanks for sending people here from your blog!

Terri-Tiffany--I think article writing is also totally hectic. I can only imagine how journalists do it. Thanks for reading!

Janna--good luck with your submission and thanks for coming!

Jess Riley said...

And I'm grateful that I've had the pleasure to know Danielle and meet her twice this year!! She's quite beautiful, gracious, and fun...and Falling Under is fantastic. :)

Anonymous said...

Always seems the hardest worker is also the luckiest. Not a coincidence. Congrats of the year so far.
Oren (FOA)

Patresa Hartman said...

YIKES! that makes my stomach hurt just reading it.

but so glad you're here with us and you knocked the crap out of those challenges.

i look forward to reading Falling Under!

thanks, danielle. :)

Kristina said...

I find this inspiring and not a little terrifying! Says the author with a book coming out in June and two kids and a dog (who at least is doglike and knows he's on the bottom rung!)

I hear you on the "part-time hours for a full-time job" concept. Right there with you.

Danielle Younge-Ullman said...

Aww Jess! Thanks for stopping by. And back at you in the grace, beauty and fun departments!

Anonymous--I know the hard work isn't a guarantee, but at least I know I'm trying!

Patresa--your stomach, my head! Thanks for reading.

And Kristina--be afraid, be very, very afraid...

No seriously, it somehow all gets done so don't panic. Good job keeping your dog in line. Mine has delusions of grandeur.

Eve said...

Hi Danielle! Loved, loved, loved Falling Under! What's a YOG?

Larramie said...

Here you are Danielle, an incredibly talented writer with profound insight. And, even with all you had to do, your kindness and generous spirit were always there!

For anyone who has yet to read FALLING UNDER, please treat yourself to this brutally gorgeous novel.

Katie Alender said...

Oh, that's such an amazing point about expecting more and being more disappointed. That is true risk-taking within the human condition!

Angie Ledbetter said...

Larramie said...
For anyone who has yet to read FALLING UNDER, please treat yourself to this brutally gorgeous novel.

Danielle, sorry for answering on your post, but I think I'd swoon if anyone ever said that about my future novel. Brutally gorgeous. Wow.

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