A new year is upon us, and who knows what lies ahead? You can plan. You can speculate. But the future is unpredictable. That’s a bit like writing itself: You start a story, an essay, a poem, a script, and it’s anybody’s guess – including yours – as to where it will end up.
As creative people, we live in that mystery. In fact, in the last 20-plus years of interviewing artistic thinkers – literary, performance and visual – I’ve made a point of asking what advice they have for people who want to be more creative in their lives. Each response was a version of this: Get comfortable with not knowing.
While we can’t say exactly what tomorrow will bring, we can do lots to point our compasses toward the brightest stars. Any one of the writers who appears in this issue – Elizabeth Gilbert, Francisco Goldman, Gaiutra Bahadur, Lucy Knisley, Molly Birnbaum, Lee Crutchley – has something to say about moving forward with an idea. And then the key is to start writing. Don’t wait for February. Or the right moment. Resolve to jump into the great unknown, the scrupulously unpredictable future that is right now and, then, never again.
“Breaking out” is the phrase we use on the cover of this month’s magazine as a guide to what’s within. Every story here, whether about learning from readers, tapping into online publishing or facing your demons, contains a message about your writing career and the importance of crossing into the new year with a refreshed sense of determination, discovery, discipline and – another word on our cover – moxie.
Last fall, managing editor Aubrey Everett and I attended book festivals in Brooklyn and our hometown of Boston. In this issue, we feature images of young readers (and possibly the next best-selling writers) who captured our attention. They are the next generation, and we celebrate them with a mash-up of images in this issue because one thing we can predict: Children who read are the hope for the future.
Let us remember as we begin a new year that it is a childlike sense of wonder that allows us to imagine the stories we tell.
Welcome to 2014. What’s ahead for you?