Last year I resolved to bring new pages to my critique group every week. Out of 50 meetings, I kept my resolution about 45 times. Sometimes I only brought 1 new page; sometimes I brought 20. (Okay, once I brought 20…) Point is, I was fairly successful, because it was a reasonable goal — one that pushed me to work hard and grow, but also one that I was able and wanted to accomplish.
This year, I have 2 resolutions in mind that I believe fit the same criteria.
1. Finish my manuscript.
This is self-explanatory, right?
Feb 5 will mark the one-year anniversary of quitting my job to focus on writing full-time. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t
expected hoped to have an agent and maybe even a book deal by now. But life never goes to plan — and this process is notoriously slow — and I am not a quick writer — so I really should have known better.
But not succeeding yet is not the same as failing. My goals — awesome manuscript, agent, book deal — haven’t changed. They’re just on a different timeline. What exactly that timeline is, I don’t know, and I’m not going to make estimates anymore. First of all, I’m bad at estimating, and second, it’s not in my control anyway.
What is in my control is finishing the manuscript and polishing it to shine. So that’s what I’m going to do. And when I’m done, this book will be so damn shiny you’ll see your reflection in it.
(That’s sort of the point of a story after all, no?)
2. Encourage/stretch my imagination.
This goal is less tangible but just as important, IMO.
I’m generalizing here, but as kids we gave ourselves a lot of freedom. Sure, we couldn’t talk to strangers or cross a street without holding someone’s hand, but in our minds, there were few limits. A talking paperclip? Sure. (That was the heroine of one of my earliest stories.) A veterinarian movie star? Why not. (That’s what I used to want to be.)
But somewhere along the way, “reality” seeped in and turned all those fun, wild dreams into soggy mush that we were embarrassed to hold onto. We started judging our ideas. We said “no” to those bright, twinkling stars before we even let ourselves reach for them. We had to focus on what was possible. We had to be realistic.
I want to undo that.
I want to say “yes.” I want to re-learn that “childish” playfulness and ingenuity. I want to believe in the impossible again.
Side story: One of my cherished childhood memories is “cooking.” I used to take out this big blue plastic bowl and mix in whatever I could find. Water. Flour. Salt. Vinegar. Soy sauce. Food coloring. It made me feel so grown-up, working in the kitchen, making something.
But it wasn’t grown-up at all, and the result was a crazy brown sludge that no one in their right mind would eat/drink.
Of course, that’s not what I saw when I looked in the bowl. If you asked me what I had made, I would tell you, honestly, chocolate cake. Or maybe macaroni and cheese. Clam chowder. French toast. That crazy brown sludge could be whatever I wanted it to be.
And that is the whole point.
So there you have it. My new year’s resolutions, and a bonus memory to boot. 2011 was not always an easy year, but I’d say it was good, overall. I suppose I can’t ask for much more than that from 2012.