I did make a New Year’s resolution once. When I was working on my first novel, The Mud of the Place, and desperately afraid that I’d never finish it, I resolved that I would work on it every day until it was done.
Note that I did not vow to write a thousand words or two thousand words or any number of words. Nor did I vow to write for an hour or two hours or for any set time.
Just every day.
This turned out to be a brilliant move. There were days when I was so panicky, so sure that everything I’d done so far was crap, that I didn’t work up the nerve to open my Word file till ten minutes before midnight. And this was enough. Just opening the file and reading what I’d already written was enough to reassure me that this thing was good, this thing was worthwhile, I really needed to keep going till I finished this thing.
And that was enough to encourage me to add a few words, and sometimes to keep going till two in the morning.
Had I vowed to write so many words or for so many hours, there would have been no point to opening the file at ten minutes to midnight.
I haven’t made a New Year’s resolution since.
However, the New Year’s resolution frenzy continues unabated, and sometimes I feel left out.
Even though I suspect that New Year’s resolutions are basically a spam that people inflict on themselves to help big companies sell stuff. Seriously. Have you ever noticed around the end of January how much fitness and weight-loss apparatus goes up for sale in the want ads, Craiglist, the M.V. Times Bargain Box, or MV Stuff 4 Sale?
I hear something similar happens at gyms and other fitness facilities. Around 1 January the resolutioneers pack the place. The regulars have to wait in line, and even give tips to the newbies. By the end of the month the crowds have disappeared. The regulars have the place to themselves again.
So many New Year’s resolutions pit the mind against the body. The mind, aka “good intentions,” is determined to beat the body into submission, by losing weight, exercising regularly, eating healthy, or some other goddamn thing.
Got news for y’all: The body is always going to win. If mind doesn’t learn how to work with body, mind is always going to lose. Been there, done that . . .
Nevertheless, I wish you luck with whatever resolutions you’ve made. May wisdom grow from your struggle.
Still, I was feeling a little left out, so — since other people are so into resolutions — I decided I’d make some resolutions for other people to keep.
One look at my Facebook news feed and this quickly got out of control. “I will shuddup about the 2016 presidential election until October 1” came up a lot. “I will think about what the Second Amendment actually says before spouting off about it” ran a close second.
Finally I settled on this one:
If my dog poops on a path that other people walk on, I will either pick it up in the baggie that I (of course) carry in my pocket at all times, or I will kick it into the underbrush with the toe of my boot.
Writing every day is a great, great thing to do. I try, and honestly this is when I stick to the daily writing that I do my best work. To a great 2016. Your dog is so handsome and if he keeps the trail clean he’s my kind of dog! Best to both of you for the New Year.