I was talking with someone the other day about New Year’s resolutions. The person I was talking to was negative in response – citing their unwillingness to succumb to peer pressure to state unattainable goals. I made some kind of blithe return that I didn’t necessarily believe in ‘resolutions’ as such, but I did try and set myself some goals. Here is one right now: I resolve not to talk out of my ass so much. The concept of resolutions and making goals are so similar as to be totally interchangeable.
Having stated I would make no resolutions (but would have goals, insert eye roll here) I immediately started making resolutions. This got me curious. Where does this tradition of New Year’s resolutions come from? A quick google around the internet revealed that it goes back to Roman times, and involves making promises of good deeds to the Roman god Janus. Janus is the one with two faces, one looking back and one looking forward. Ok, I can totally get behind a Roman tradition. Romans kick ass (please don’t tell my Egyptian characters how much I love Romans). Of course for hundreds of years New Year’s resolutions were quite attainable: I will a pile of gold to the poor, I will return the chariot I stole from my neighbor, I will marry the girl I knocked up, etc.
Somehow, over the years, the resolution came to be some personal goal of self-improvement. Which is, apparently, the reason that fewer and fewer New Year’s resolutions actually get followed through on, with most people giving up after just a couple months. Giving a charitable donation is a very achievable goal; becoming a better person is not. Just think of all the people determining right this minute that they will lose weight, write every day, be nicer to the people they despise, or exercise more? Are you going to be one of them?
I resolve to write a novel this year. I already started it. I have the books I need for research. I’m not going to tell you how many hours a day I plan to write, or any other writerly self-improvement resolutions that I will probably break before I get a week or two into the New Year. I am simply going to set myself an achievable goal: I will finish my book.
What about you?
As we approach 2010 I have an opportunity to reflect on my goals. It’s been a month since I wrote anything in my blog here – and what a busy month it’s been. My last post here was about my new writing group hosted at my interactive fiction/collaborative writing & role-play site Pan Historia called Write Together. I’m here to report that even in the middle of switching jobs and surviving the crazy holidays it’s been a great success for me so far. I re-committed myself to a writing regime and am currently twenty pages into a new novel. Not only have I written several chapters but I have been enjoying a great deal of inspiring research for the project. The novel is fiction, but it’s set in a very specific time period (mostly 1926) with lots of exciting historical characters that need to be authentic to make the story work.
With the holidays over (I don’t count New Years and intend to spend it sedately as always) I am recommitting myself to my blog as well. My New Year’s resolution, if you will, is to complete my novel in 2010 but also to maintain a steady stream of collaborative fiction and blog posts. Now I just have to remember all the good ideas I have had over the past month that I have been too busy to realize. I have a far better note taking system with the audio and notebook functions on my Blackberry as well as a nice little pocket Moleskin notebook, but somehow I still have to get ideas from brain to my devices, whatever they may be. I’ve been pretty diligent when it comes to the new novel but less so when it comes to other ideas, including poetry ideas, I have been slacking. Developing new habits is a matter of practice however and with all the ways that I can take down my thoughts for later I have no excuses this year for not improving.
My new job is going to help a lot. I haven’t really posted much personal stuff in my blog and that remains my intention, but I can share that when you are in a negative place, worried about finances and bullied by bosses that are less qualified than yourself, it sure can handicap your ability to be creative and productive in other spheres. My new job was a step back on the hierarchal ladder since my move across country, but it is a return to the sector that I excel in and where I have opportunities for advancement. My new bosses and coworkers all seem to be people I can respect, and I look forward to relaxing into my new position. My primary ambition in life is as an artist. Whether it is with paints, pens, or pixels, I have to remember that my job is not my career and sweat the small stuff a little less. I think 2010 promises me that freedom.
Time to take a long and welcome stretch and then consider what the New Year will bring.
This year, for me, I anticipate many changes, but what goals might I set for myself in terms of writing?
As a collaborative writer I’m approaching something rather exciting at Pan Historia. One of my collaborative ‘novels’ is coming to an end. We are in the process of planning a conclusion and tying up all the loose ends. Ideally it can then be read just like any other novel with a beginning, middle, and end. I would like to also propose to my fellow writers at The Midnight People that we edit and then publish the work. One of the really exciting developments of the computer and internet age is the greater freedom that writers have to get published. Of course the Vanity Press has existed as long as the printing press, but nowadays self-publishing with all the trimmings of self-promotion and marketing is now a real possibility. I anticipate a fairly small audience for our fantasy novel, but I think it would be a great thing to hold the real life paperback version of our collaborative work in our hands. The sense of accomplishment alone would be worth it, even if we don’t entirely recoup the costs of the project.
In addition to a print version of the completed The Midnight People I hope to extend the publishing option to all of Pan Historia. A number of years ago we put together a compilation book that we named the Pan Historia Birthday Book. I had planned for a new one every year but sadly that was more work than I could manage, but I think it’s time for another. It sounds to me, reading what I have just wrote, that I really plan to enter the world of publishing, albeit in my small and quirky way. Pan Press here I come!
Which leads me to my own solo literary effort: it’s time to get serious about my novel. My New Year’s resolution will involve dusting off my research, and then writing at least a page a day. If I can write a page of blog every day… well you get the picture. I won’t wait a week to start, I’ll start today. There is nothing like grabbing the moment and not letting good intentions get away. I finally realized, in a blinding moment of revelation, what the block was to the novel and that was that I had character, no problem, but I hadn’t really decided what the damn plot was. So I will work on a rough outline and try and hammer out the story arc.
Wish me luck.