January: A scene that doesn’t fit any fanfiction story grabs me and doesn’t let go. I write down a line of dialog: “Chemists think it’s all about chemistry. Hormones and pheromones. Some peptides, a little oxytocin, and that’s the whole story. But what do they know? Really, it’s all about physics.”

Dad is diagnosed with cancer.

February: Dad has a massive heart attack, followed by quintuple bypass. Unfortunately, that means delaying the cancer treatment until he recovers. Everyone is anxious.

I write two chapters of Ghosts. I realize that books with ghosts in them are books about death. I think maybe this is not a good idea.

March: I decide to quit my job and return to school full-time.

I’m stuck on Ghosts at Chapter 4, because I realize that ghostly fifteen-year olds are really dead teenagers.

April: My birthday, and the one year anniversary of my mom’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. And quite a year it’s been, I think. I thank God that year is over, the next one has to be better. (Jinx!)

I’m not writing anything.

May: I officially quit my job and make plans for August through fall, including finally doing the house repairs that have been waiting forever.

I’m writing a little, maybe finally breaking through the writer’s block, but I decide to toss two of the five chapters that are done. I’m back at Chapter 3. I post chapters to fictionpress and bookcountry.

June: Dad’s having cancer treatments in Jacksonville and Mom gets sick. He brings her home and takes her to urgent care, then heads back to Jacksonville. Tests ensue.

July: A diagnosis. Pancreatic cancer that has metastasized to the liver. 4-6 months.

I meant to start really writing as soon as my job ended in early July, and I try, but I spend a lot of time staring into space. I read the first chapter of Ghosts aloud to Mom while sitting by her bed, and decide that it’s not bad.

August: Yeah, that should have been 4-6 weeks. Mom dies August 6th.

I try to write every day. I succeed some of the time.

September: My (ex) father-in-law dies September 6th. Needless to say I’m not really working on my house repairs. Mostly I’m sleeping a lot, crying a lot, and trying to stay on top of schoolwork.

But I’m writing almost every day.

October: I’m in Seattle for Malcolm’s memorial service when I get the call I’ve dreaded for years. A beloved college friend’s cancer is back, and this time it’s terminal. They’re moving to palliative care.

I’m back to writing when I can. I write Zane’s goodbye with tears running down my face.

November: Thanksgiving would have been my mother’s 68th birthday. My sister’s best friend dies unexpectedly, massive heart attack, the day before. She was 53.

I’m trying to let the book sit before starting revisions, but the self-imposed pressure of NaNoWriMo is making me insane and tweaking Ghosts makes me feel better. I tweak. I tweak some more.

December: Revisions! I add a few scenes, make some big changes to the ending, let a few more people critique it, then self-publish.

There are many ghosts in my book. Reviews describe it as wry, fun, breezy and charming, proving…something. That escapist writing isn’t just for readers, maybe?

I said at the end of 2010 that 2011 had to be a better year. I’m scared to say that again. So my resolution for 2012 is simple: I want to be kind as often as possible. That’s it.