It is now officially 2011. I won’t get into how disappointed I am that we don’t have flying cars, hoverboards, the ability to “jack in” to the net via cables embedded in the backs of our necks, or the fact that we can’t yet even handle simple things like teleportation or cheap space travel.
At the beginning of a new year, we often find ourselves facing a clean slate. We figure it’s a new year, so it’s time to start fresh. Time to make promises to do the things this year that we didn’t do last year. Time to make amends for the crappy year we had last year and make this new year one to remember – everything we want it to be!
Unfortunately, this is also a time of denial. A time to kid ourselves and try and sweep the crap from prior years under the rug, look at the shiny new rug, and promise ourselves that the same stuff won’t happen this year. This time of year we fill ourselves with empty promises (we call them “resolutions”) to do more, be better, and achieve everything we’ve always wanted to achieve. Just like there are those who sin all week and then duck into a church every Sunday in search of absolution, there are those of us who use January 1st and “resolutions” as a form of absolution. We tell ourselves that we’ll be better this year.
The trick here isn’t to avoid resolutions all together, the trick is to treat them as goals and make them achievable. We have to pick things we want to accomplish, things that will stretch us and challenge us and make us grow as people or as professionals or as both. Pick something that’s just out of your current reach so you have to take that extra step in the new year to get it… but don’t pick something that’s so far out of reach you’re just going to give up before the end of February.
I’ve got a pile of resolutions that I plan on for this year but I also plan on achieving all of them. Oh I’ve got the usual “lose weight” one, but I’ve been hitting the gym 4+ times per week so I think I may actually accomplish that one if I stick to it long enough. Weight loss is a long, drawn out war of attrition (literally). It’s your willpower versus your gut, and your willpower has to win every day, all day and it sucks the life out of you (well, at least me anyway).
I also have a couple of writing resolutions. This year, I am going to pick one of the open books that I’ve been writing and I’m going to choose just that book and I’m going to finish it. I’m not going to stop and obsess over every chapter I am simply going to grind through the entire book from start to finish and I will end that book. Finishing the book is the hard part. The months of editing afterward are (relatively) easy. I have heard many times that the difference between published authors and aspiring authors is that published authors actually finish their books, aspiring authors just keep starting new books over and over again.
So, one way or another, for better or for worse, I’m going to finish a book this year. In addition, I’m also going to write and submit at least 3 short stories, regardless of my rejection history with short stories. This is because I need to prove to myself that I can continue to love the act of writing in the face of rejection, despair, self-loathing, and all of the other horrible things writers do to themselves when they get rejection letters.
So that’s that. I’ve aired my resolutions publicly and I hope to be accountable to them. Lose some weight, finish a novel, and submit for publication at least three short stories. I wonder what kind of resolutions other authors (published or otherwise) have? Do they fall into the trap of “new year absolution” and just come up with a pile of unattainable goals, or are they pragmatic about it and set fixed, measurable goals that they know they can work toward? I’m always curious about that. I wonder what Stephen King or Neil Gaiman set for their resolutions…