Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Resolutions for the New Year

It’s that season again, time to set goals and resolutions, get organized and ready to start fresh. I’m a lover of both tradition and second chances so I love New Years. After the overabundance of Christmas, I really, really love New Years.

 Of course, there’s no starting fresh unless you have a plan, and that involves counting the cost. A writing friend of mine posted this on Facebook recently.

It was a good reminder. Change takes sacrifice. At the same time, it’s motivating. It’s human nature to want to achieve something hard, something that takes grit and uncommon determination. I’d just finished up listening to Wild on my commute when I saw the meme. The idea of getting out in nature, roughing it, walking ten to twenty miles a day and getting fit and happy sounded so inspiring. But the experience came with run-ins with bears and rattle snakes, and enduring constant bruising, blisters and lost toe nails.

My big goal this year after a rough couple of years is to get back to consistent, successful writing. But that involves a fair amount of determination too, as I’m reminded in this Doctorow pin.

It’s not quite the same as bruises and blisters, but it is turning away from the pleasures and easy distractions of the moment. It is writing through thick and thin, even when the well feels dry and the rewards of writing are intangible. It’s making time out of thin air or, for me, out of lunch breaks and early mornings when everyone else is asleep. But like most goals, finishing a novel happens because you go in each day paying no heed to what you feel like doing at the moment. You repeat this day after day and miraculously the pages pile up, the characters fill out and the story grows in dimension. And incidentally, the pleasure grows right along with the mounting page count.

There are other kinds of goals too. A friend of mine recently cut back on her writing because she realized her husband needed more of her. I work at a hospital and we regularly get e-mail reminders that a full night’s sleep is the key to a myriad of things – appetite, longevity, happiness and focus to name a few. It doesn’t feel strenuous to say I’m going to cut back on hard work this year. Where are the blisters and bruised muscles there? But living life on different terms, even easier terms, takes uncommon determination too, and with results just as valuable as a 2,000 mile hike or a 300 page novel.

What are your goals this year? And what are you willing to endure for them?