Editorial: Beginning the book of a new year

We have opened the book on 2014.

Happy New Year.

One can think about a year as a book. The first couple of months are used to set scenes and establish characters and the story line. The middle months, the main plot is developed, sometimes taking an unexpected twist or seemingly getting bogged down in a side story that has little overall impact on the entire story. The end, of course, is bringing the story to a conclusion, trying to tie up loose ends.

We’re sure that everyone is looking forward to the opportunity that a new year offers with those fresh and blank pages, even if you haven’t quite finished 2013. That’s OK. Like books in a series, the past comes into play regarding the newest installment, whether it’s returning characters or seeing how a previous mystery or event shapes the story line.

In looking back at 2013, it had the feel of one of those thick novels involving the saga of a multigenerational family, books about which reviewers generally use “sweeping” as the main descriptive tool. These books are full of complicated relationships with major and minor characters, set against a changing landscape. Sometimes the plot carries you and sometimes you slog through sections. It’s a book that sometimes surprises you, yet at others it seems to follow a story line that is all too familiar. Yet as interesting or convoluted as it may seem, the story moves along and evokes from the reader laughter or sadness, anger or frustration. Maybe because there was so much going on, you had to go back and reread a passage to better understand what was happening.

2013 was a jumble of people and events that had us wondering just where we — Franklin County, Massachusetts, the United States and the world — were headed. While the promises and challenges aren’t really that different from year to year, it seemed harder to get past the din of life.

With 2014, we’re looking for a different kind of book. One that is a slimmer and less complicated read. We wouldn’t mind if the new year had story lines involving greater cooperation and the common good. We should use what we learned in 2013 to write a better story.

Today, Jan. 1, we’re on page one. Let’s begin writing a terrific story for 2014.

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