The Gift of Welcoming the New by Claudia Mills

The gift I most want for myself in the coming year - and the gift I also want to give my fellow authors - is the gift of taking on new challenges in our writing and in our lives.

I face a milestone birthday in 2019 - not one that ends in 0, but one that ends in 5 and officially labels me in the eyes of the world as "senior," that is to say, as kind-of-sort-of-old. I have to admit I've increasingly been acting a teensy bit oldish, especially in clinging to life-as-it's-always-been: writing the kinds of books I've always written, promoting them in the way I always have (which is to say, not promoting them at all), teaching in the way I've always taught (how I love blackboard and chalk).

So the gift I'm going to give myself in the year to come is this: I'm going to do not one, not two, not three, but SIX new things in my career that I've never done before. I'm calling it "The Year of Re-Newing My Career."

Here are the six:

1) I'm going to teach my first-ever (gasp!) online class, for the Graduate Program in Children's Literature at Hollins University in Roanoke.

2) I'm going to write a book on a topic I know absolutely nothing about. I'm launching a series for Holiday House, called "After-School Superstars," set in an after-school program featuring a different themed camp each month. The first book, out this June, is Nixie Ness, Cooking Star, set in a cooking camp. Next up is Vera Vance, Comics Star, set in a camp where the kids write their own comics and graphic novels. Now the publisher has asked me to set the next title in a camp on - coding??!!! What IS coding?? Well, I'm about to find out.

3) I'm going to write my first verse novel. I've just begun groping toward it, and I'm wild to continue. I love it so much, so much, so much!

4) With this new series launching from a new publisher, I'm going to make my first serious effort to promote my books rather than just saying, "Well, forty years ago all you had to do was write the darned book! No one expected you to wear costumes, or give away candy, or tweet anything!" Hello? Now they do. Instead of bewailing that this is how the world is, and secretly resenting friends who are promotion mavens, I'm going to sit humbly at their feet and learn from them. I will start tweeting! I will, I will!

5) I'm going to start submitting for publication the poems I've been writing, just for myself, for the past decade.

6) Finally, although I did publish a few long, wordy picture books in decades past, I'm going to write and submit my first under-500-word picture book. I provide child care for my two granddaughters (aged 4 and 2) for ten days each month. If I can't get a picture book idea - or ten - out of this, I'm not trying hard enough.

What about the rest of you? Who else is up for making 2019 the newest new year yet?


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Michele. I may not do all of this, but if I do any of this, I'll be happy!

  2. You made me smile with this post Claudia. It's the kind of thing I do every January and have done since I turned 50. Trying new things in all aspects of life has become my new mantra. Proud of you for stretching your metaphorical wings and leaping into the unknown. Our lives, and our characters will be better for it. Happy New Beginnings.

    1. Thanks, Darlene. I hope you post about some of the new things you will be trying in the coming year!

  3. This is an INCREDIBLE list! (And happy big-number-ending-in-5 birthday!)

    1. Thanks, Holly! Desperate birthdays call for desperate measures!

  4. Such good news, all challenging gifts! Thank you for the inspirational read!

  5. Thanks for the kind words, Bobbi! I'm work hard at trying to inspire myself...


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