Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Resolution Road

So...wow...it's that time of year again - the very last day! I can hardly believe how quickly time has passed, and much like my protagonist, Jillian, I often wish I could press the pause button to have a moment to step back and appreciate it all. But...since I can't...one thing I like to do, come the end of the year, is take a deep breath and reflect on both the milestones and the slip-ups from the previous 364 days, so I can better arm myself for the next 365.

As far as resolutions? Well, I'm sure that I have some - have morCheck Spellinge patience with my husband, eat one dessert fewer every night (I tend to sample one of everything in the house, sigh) - but they're not yet concrete. What really helps me is to assess the path of the prior year and see what changes I might like to implement, because without doing so, they're just sort of blind promises that are bound to fail.

So, that said, my past year has been pretty spectacular. It's felt like the sort of year that comes along only so often every lifetime, and part of me is a little nervous that I'll never top it. But then I think of the conversation my husband and I had before our daughter was born, the one in which he worried if he'd love our second child as much as our first - because we really, really loved our first - and now, we both look back on that and crack up because, of course we love her madly, and of course, just because you have one great thing happen to you (or one banner year), doesn't mean that it can't repeat itself!

I guess the key for me is to figure out how to replicate those results...and it really all boils down to writing a book that is as appealing as Time of My Life. And I'm doing my best. I'm 40 pages in, and I'm working like hell to make it all that TOML was, but ultimately, and this may simply be my resolution, I also have to let go the comparison-game. (Not unlike that first vs. second child thing.) It's hard. It's very, very hard. I reread passages and think, "Is this as snappy as TOML? Is this BETTER than TOML?," and then I get out of my head and out of my writing groove. So, yes, I think this may very well be my resolution because, as I've said here before, all I can do with this book is make it the best possible 300 pages that I have in me. I didn't write TOML with the intention of a future movie or of hitting the NY Times list. That these amazing things happened were just the cherry on top. Before they did happen, however, I was thrilled with and proud of the book...and that would have been enough for me.

So the lesson, in thinking through my year, and where I am at present, is that the big stuff is probably out of my control. What has to matter is what is enough for me, and that would be to set aside expectations that are now attached to me, and simply to write. Maybe this is the same goal as last year - I'll have to go back and find that post - but it seems like a worthy goal, nevertheless.

So you heard it here: if I ever blog about how I'm stuck because I feel paralyzed with the expectations of TOML on me - remind me: Just write the dang book already! As an author, that's what I should be doing all along.

I'd love to hear what your resolutions (work and non-work) are this year! Spill! And have a happy - and SAFE - new year!

10 comments:

Molly said...

haha... as your most thorough reader, I can say that I remember you saying something similar after you finished The Department of Lost and Found-- i.e., how will I write something else I love this much?-- so I'm sure you'll do fine. :) Good luck!!

So here goes...

1. I am going to finish my revisions (which really are substantial rewritings and expansions) of my novel and make it deeper, better, bigger. And I'm going to put the work into getting to know my FL and letting her direct the story. And I'm going to try to finish my "real" first draft before you finish yours, although you're catching up to my 200 pages very quickly! :)

2. I'm going to write another novel (NaNoWriMo 2009, probably) and make it deeper, better, bigger than this one.

3. After the play that I'm in right now is over, I'm going to find something else to do a few evenings a week that I've never done before-- and this time it will involve speaking in Hebrew! (Oh, did I say that I live in Israel? Just moved here in April... that's another question I have eventually-- whether it will "count against me" that I live in a foreign country)

4. I'm going to run a sub-50 minute 10K

5. I'm going to read at least 25 books and make five-- ok, maybe three-- of them in Hebrew!

6. Hopefully get a move on some big family plans. :)

7. Manage my time better and find a daily rhythm that lets me feel relaxed and productive. Spend more leisure time reading than watching TV.

8. Love life with my husband in our beautiful country. And, er, hopefully learn to love guests. We're working on that one. Kind of. (You're invited if you ever come to Israel, of course! Just, um, maybe stay less than three weeks. And rent your own car. Family apparently hasn't gotten that memo and are pretty bad at taking hints.) If this fails, perhaps move to an efficiency apartment without an extra bedroom. ;)

9. Hit our monthly budget and save for a house!

10. Learn when to stop adding items to a to-do list. :)

Haha.. thanks for giving me the opportunity do to this! See you in 2009!

Maya

Amie Stuart said...

My biggest goal is to give more of myself in 2009. Totally not writing related huh? LOL

Otherwise, my non-writing goal is to work on the house this year. And save money...so I can work on the house this year. I want a new washer and dryer. A nice one. I haven't had a new one in over five years.
I want a new kitchen and new floors and I'd like to gut both bathrooms. The house also needs to be painted and I need gutters. yeah, considering the economy, the fact i"m NOT under contract and might not sell another book this year, those are some financially ambitious goals!

Heather Johnson Durocher said...

Hey Allison! Great message about remembering that it's always possible - probable? - that what's to come is even better than what's taken place. I like that idea a lot as 2008 winds down. It's been an upside-down, topsy-turvy year for me - not all bad, just different and in many ways life-changing - so I'm looking forward to what exactly will unfold in '09. Writing-wise, I'm keeping an open mind about which way my career is heading. After years of following the magazine and newspaper writing path, I'm thinking seriously for the first time about writing a book (I'm figuring all the life-altering events of '08 could come in handy - definite story fodder :) ). I'm also diving into blogging, which I didn't necessarily plan on, but am thoroughly enjoying. On a personal front, I just signed up for my first marathon, which I am super excited about. It's daunting when I think about the training involved, but just like with writing, I want to push myself and see just where this takes me. And, '09 is the year I turn 35. With two of my kids well into the school years and my third child now 3, I also feel like I'm starting to breathe a little easier on the parenting front -- not that I expect life to be any less challenging as a mom, but there's something to be said for moving beyond the diaper/sleepless nights/stroller phase. At least for me, that's the case. :)

So, thanks for asking - and thanks for your terrific blog. I'm constantly learning new things, from you and from others who post here. Happy New Year wishes to all!

Stephanie said...

I have so many thing I'd like to accomplish this year, but I'm so easily overwhelmed by possibilities that I need to pick a few that are most important to me and concentrate on those. Perhaps it's the gemini in me, but I'm a go-go-go person all the time - I'm involved in 456348765 different projects that I'm never 100% invested in.

So maybe that's my primary resolution: to learn to avoid paralysis by analysis of my goals. I will pick a few that are most important to me, give them my all, and then give myself permission to *not* be working on fifty thousand things at once. It's going to be hard!

tootie said...

This is the first year that I'm going to ditch the resolutions! Instead, I'm just going to enjoy the year and be open to new possibilities.

LarramieG said...

To the dreams you create for us, Allison!

Suzanne said...

A house, a career, an agent. Not asking for too much really!

Susan Johnston said...

Alison, congrats on a fabulous and successful year! We know you'll continue to do great things in 2009 and beyond.

Here are my resolutions:

*Spend at least two days per month on creative projects. Towards the end of 2008, I started devoting Thursdays to writing essays. Then I landed some other projects that demanded more urgent attention and the essays fell by the wayside. I'd like to reestablish this pattern in 2009 and publish more essays, maybe even start writing a book...
*Listen to my instincts more. I got burned by clients several times this year and each time I had reservations before starting the project. Had I paid attention to my gut more often, I would have been able to spend less time ranting and more time writing.
*Cultivate long-term relationships. Rather than keeping track of a million separate invoices, style guides, etc., I'd love to land another ongoing blogging gig or a montly newsletter client to even out my income and my schedule.
*And on a personal note, I'm ready for life sans roommates and I'm hoping to find a one bedroom apartment in 2009 so I'll have more privacy for writing and... stuff. *wink*

Happy new year!

Christina Katz said...

I can totally relate to feeling paralyzed about the next book not being as good as the last book. I felt really good about my first book, mainly b/c I worked so dang hard on it, but also, I suppose, because I've received and continue to receive such nice feedback.

So when it was time to settle into book two (which I avoided as long as possible, btw) my biggest hang up was will my writer mama readers like it as much as Writer Mama? I tortured myself with this to the point where I really just needed to get over it. And finally, I just decided that I would let book two be it's own book. Let it be totally different than the first book.

I was helped by the fact that it's for a bigger, more diverse audience. But I will say that opening up my audience from only women who are moms to include (gasp) men felt very uncomfortable at first. I remember when I first saw the cover of Get Known. I was like, oh no, it's a boy book! I know that it was a conscious choice on my editor's part (bc she's so smart) but it took me a long time to get used to that cover.

In the end, I'm not sure whether my writer mama readers like my second book as much, it's probably too soon to tell, but I feel good because I cut them loose, in my mind, at least, and let Get Known be the book it needed to be, which ultimately felt like tapping into another aspect of myself.

The idea that I have many facets as a writer and a teacher is encouraging to me now...but the transition was difficult. Seems like we work hard enough without having to go through all of this rigamarole!

Allison, I hope you won't be ruled by TOML and that you'll be able to let the new book rip. Who knows what the muse has in mind this time? I can't wait to find out!

80s Queen said...

Hi Allison, I just found your blog and love it. I've got a ton of resolutions, I'm a resolution nut and the past few years I've been able to keep most of them. On top of my list this year is 1. to start Yoga 2. write every single day 3. build my website and work on my blog (which means I have to get tech/computer savy) 4. save money, no more credit cards and finally 5. try to talk my husband into adopting another child.

Happy New Year everyone. Good luck with the resolutions.