Thursday, January 5, 2012

Resolved: Keep Writing

I've never been a big one for new years resolutions.

It's a day, like any other. If you couldn't stick to a diet on August 17, why do you think you can on January 1?

And people – all people – are notorious for not keeping resolutions longer than a couple of weeks. Partly it's what they resolve. "I'm going to quit smoking." "I'm going to lose 30 pounds." "I'm going to finally read James Joyce's Ulysses." All are do-able, but you need more incentive than "I said it on Jan. 1, so by golly, I'll do it!" If you need more incentive to quit smoking than "I don't want to die sooner than I have to," the date won't help. Tori and I quit last year, but she did in March and I did in April, closer to April Fools than New Years.

Or they resolve something like, "I'm going to be a nicer person," or "I'm going to eat smarter. Both are fine sentiments, but how do you measure whether you've been nicer? You can't. And "eating smarter" is a nicely vague phrase, also unmeasurable, that could include loopholes such as "Well, really, eating that tub of chocolate pudding was the smart thing to do."

And then there's this category – My resolution is I'm going to get an agent. I'm going to get published.

Those are all great goals. But you can't really resolve to do them, because they are all outside your control. At the end of the day, it requires someone else to do something, decide to represent you, to publish you. You can't control that. You can't MAKE them do that.

All you can do is the best you can do. Hone your craft, make sure your book is as good as you can make it, make your query razor sharp. Do the things you can do and don't waste time worrying about things you can't control. What if the agent is in a bad mood, or doesn't like first-person novels, or the editor is about to lose his job and decides to take it out on me? Or the agent/editor is simply bored. Or just doesn't like my book?

Well, what about it? What if? All of those things are outside my control, so I don't bother with them. You've got to focus on what you can d something about.

Years ago, I decided the problem with new year's is people make resolutions that are too hard to keep. Quit smoking? Yeah, tried that a couple of times. Didn't work. I quit when I was ready to quit, not on New Years. Lose weight? Not so much. So you don't keep your resolution and spend the rest of the year feeling like a failure.

I switched it up. I made a resolution I was confident I could keep. I resolved not to wear a tie. And I did it. For a whole year, no hempen halter. I was a success! Tori said I need better problems in my life, and she's probably right. She always is. The next year I resolved to ALWAYS return my shopping cart to the cart corral instead of leaving it in the parking lot. Again, mission accomplished!

Last year it was to switch my writing journal from a notebook to a blog. A year later, more than a hundred entries, about the same as when I kept the notebook.

This year – I'm focused. That's all. Just focused on making Chrissie Warren: Pirate Hunter as good as I possibly can. Publishers might pass on it anyway, I know I can't control that. But if at the end of the year the book doesn’t have a publisher, it won't be because I didn't do the best I can. And I'll do the same thing with Scurvy Dogs. And the next project. And the next.

It's what I do. I'm a writer. So I'm resolved to write.

(Oh, I know in my last post I said I'd discuss my biggest fear as a writer. I'm still wrestling wth it, so I'll get that Friday. Monday at the latest. Son, anyway)

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