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I don’t believe in resolutions. Wait – let me rephrase that. Of course I believe in them, I’d be stupid not to, as people make them all the time. Heck, I’ve made plenty of resolutions over the years. What I really mean to say is that I don’t believe they are effective. In fact, I think they tend to be dangerous: engines of guilt that drive avoidance and procrastination and other unhealthy behaviors when we slip and slide and don’t quite measure up. As in, “I didn’t do what I said I would, so I’m obviously inept and I should just give up and eat several pounds of chocolate…”
What seems like a far better idea, to me anyway, is to sit down and plan where you want to be at the end of 2009. And while you’re at it, use the power of intention. Wishful thinking never got anybody anywhere. Just to be sure we are clear, wishful thinking sounds like this: “I wish I could have a different job. I wish I could finish my novel. I wish I had more time to write. I wish an agent would realize what a truly magical writer I really am…”
Sound familiar? The wishful thought is connected to powerlessness and “poor me” thinking, and leads more towards a good stiff drink than positive actions toward the goal.
I’m a fan of the affirmation that states your goals like they’re already a done deal. That sounds something like this:
- During 2009 I signed a contract with an excellent agent.
- My novel, Remember, was accepted by a major publishing house, and the advance was sufficient to pay off my credit card and student loan debt.
- I have completed Swimming North, and both my agent and I are very excited about the finished product.
I have more, but I think I’ll keep them between myself and my journal. What about the rest of you? Writing goals for 2009? Share them here, if you will – I challenge you to state them boldly as a done deal.
“The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.” John Steinbeck.
Winter Solstice. The longest, darkest night of the year is behind us. Of course, we are nearly buried under several feet of snow, but still. Spring lies ahead, somewhere. Hope springs eternal. Life goes on. And so must the writing.
I’m off to work this morning, so not much time for musings about solstices or writing or the meaning of life. But I need to post the weekend challenge.
How much writing do you think you can get done between now and the beginning of the New Year? What project, phrase, sentence, or paragraph do you want to complete before then? And how much of that do you think you can get done this weekend?
I’ve continued to work away at Swimming North, which has taken me in unexpected directions. I love that. This weekend I am on call, so my time is unpredictable, but I hope to complete the chapter I’m revising and the next one.
What about the rest of you? Gotta go. I’ll have to dig my truck out, again, before I go.
Merry belated Christmas, and happy writing.
Monday morning lurks, just on the far side of a few hours of sleep. Back to work, back to a certain level of uncontrollable chaos, with Christmas somewhere in the middle of it all. Back to the unpredictability of crisis work, slave to my taskmaster, the phone.
I am living in an adventure. Honestly, I have no idea what I will be doing tomorrow. I might spend the say sitting at my desk, catching up on crisis notes, or driving to the far corner of the county through a foot or more of new fallen snow. I might end up visiting somebody in the jail, or the hospital, or maybe just in my office. Or maybe I’ll be horribly bored and nothing will happen at all.
At the moment, I’m disinclined to go adventuring – the fire is warm, and the family will all be home tomorrow, and baby it is cold outside. But at the same time, I’m realizing how much writing material I gather in my work – insights into human nature, plot elements I could never have dreamed up on my own, a constant stirring up of thought processes that might otherwise stagnate and dry up. So, I am blessed in my work, and in my writing.
Finding time to write this weekend was a challenge, as I expected, but I managed to scrape up enough to get by. Chapter Two has been rewritten, more or less successfully. All of the materials for the partial requested by Ms. Agent are polished and printed and safely stowed in an envelope, ready for the post office.
All is well in writing world, and I’m almost ready for Christmas. So – here’s to a week of family and celebration, and I’ll see you all for another weekend challenge after Christmas.
“It seems that the necessary thing to do is not to fear mistakes, to plunge in, to do the best that one can, hoping to learn enough from blunders to correct them eventually.” (Maslow)
I found myself, the other day, staring blankly at the computer screen for about an hour. Really. No tapping of keys, rapid or slow. Nothing. There was a major change I thought I wanted to make in my manuscript, but the ‘what if’s’ had caught me. What if I’d be better off leaving it as it is? What if I’m not talented enough or skilled enough to pull off what I want to do? What if I really can’t write at all, and would be better off adopting a dream of becoming a hotel room cleaning person, or something? What if I’m like one of those poor misguided souls who show up on American Idol, unable to sing a note and thoroughly convinced that they are the best writer..uh… singer in the world while everybody is secretly laughing at them? What then?
I will say that while this war raged in my head, I did stick firmly to the computer screen – no errant quests to wash the cats or collect deer fur caught on brambles and spin it into yarn, or other adventures of that nature. Not a lot of writing happened, but I’m proud that I at least did not give up and walk away.
In this current economy, it’s easy to fall into hopelessness about ever being published (as though it was difficult to accomplish feeling hopeless before!) Not to mention the ongoing mind battle about whether or not I have any business writing in the first place and the subtle feeling that perhaps I am desecrating the Art with my awkward efforts. As writers, I believe this is where the battles are fought – in our heads. We are warriors of a sort, but it all happens on location – no trips to foreign territory for us, and nobody will ever see or celebrate the battles that we fight. No Bard’s tales sung before the fire of the Great Writer’s Battle with Despair. That doesn’t make them any less. For whatever reason, we feel called to write, to tell the stories as they come into our minds. And our greatest enemy is – ourselves. Sure, call it the Critic, or the Editor, but it’s you talking, saying things you would never dream of saying to somebody else. (Well, okay, maybe some of you are mean, horrible people, and would walk up to another writer and tell them how hopeless they are and that they’d be better to give up now and burn every word they’ve ever written, I don’t know you. It’s possible.) Why, oh why, do we think it’s okay to talk to ourselves this way?
We do it, I believe, because we are afraid. Our internal editors and critics aren’t really being mean, they have our best interests at heart. They fear we are wasting our time, or making fools of ourselves, or exposing vulnerable places we’d be better to keep concealed.
They need to get over themselves.
Face the fear, say I. Write on. Take risks. Never, ever, give up.
This weekend, even with Christmas rapidly approaching and me woefully unprepared; with sweeping changes on the home front and the work front that have left me feeling bloody and battered and insufficient to the challenge of anything, I persist in proclaiming the weekend writing challenge. I will continue to experiment with the revisions in Chapter Two of Swimming North. I will explore, and then make decisions and press on. That’s it for me, just a small chunk. Revision of one chapter. Oh – and finishing the polishing of my synopsis.
Who’s with me?