Starting Again

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Here we go again! It’s a brand new year and everyone we know seems to be wishing us a Happy New Year and talking about New Year’s Resolutions. How do you feel about them? Personally, I hate them with a passion!

Setting myself up for inevitable failure by promising to adhere to a list of distant goals never seems in my best interest. There’s enough failure in a writer’s world. I don’t need to look for more. A solemn hand-over-the-heart, I-promise-to-do-this resolution feels like a rock around my neck – a very big one – weighing me down. I’m doomed before January 2nd arrives. Far be it from me to dissuade you, of course, if New Year’s Day motivates you.  But I’ll have no solutions to offer if, at the end of January, you’re frustrated by defeat.

I stopped in at K.M. Weiland’s blog recently and found her thinking along the same line:

“How many times have you made a list of resolutions in January,” she says, “only to have misplaced them, forgotten about them, or just plain given up on them before the month was out? This year, instead of making a complete list of writing resolutions for the whole year, try implementing one new resolution every month.”

If you’re determined to have resolutions, that sounds like a fine compromise – a way to be realistic about the desire to have achievable goals and actually reach them. – and she includes a set of twelve writing-related resolutions to help. Do click on over there to read them when you’re done here.

One of the few good things coming out of all the talk about resolutions is the sharing of goals. Once we’ve told someone about ours, there seems to be more of a personal obligation to stick with them. That’s one reason why I don’t usually share mine.

I do have goals, of course, but I’m flexible about them. I intend to do my best to reach them, although it will take more than promises at the beginning of January to get me there.  Recognizing that I’m not in complete control of my destination is important. That’s in God’s hands. Only making a start on the journey is in mine.

I’m not sure why we think a new year is the best time for major re-evaluation and rededication. Any new day works for me. I may change directions or renew my journey often. If I falter today, I’ll start again tomorrow.

So, yes, for now I think I’ll stick to my plan of keeping current goals to myself, but I will share the two verses that I’m adopting for reinforcement as I pursue them:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” [Jeremiah 29:11]

“Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” [Psalm 62:2]

Blessings to all of you as you step into this new year of promise and potential. May it be a year filled with enriching experiences, achievement and rewards.

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What does the New Year mean for you?

What’s your approach to making resolutions or setting goals?

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NOTE: The promised update regarding Jimmy Rankin’s guitar contest has been added to the bottom of the original post, here.

‘Tis Christmas!

Thanks to all of you for your friendship and encouragement during this past year. I wish you God’s abundant blessings at Christmastime and throughout the coming New Year. May your hearts and homes reflect the love that prompted the greatest Gift of all.

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I’ll be taking a blogging break next week, but will see you here again on January 2nd.

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Taking Stock of our Writing Inventory

In a recent post WordServe agent Rachelle Gardner provided statistics in review of her year. WordPress also sent out the stats for our WordPress blogs. I took note of mine but they didn’t tell me much I didn’t already know… that the number of readers here has steadily increased and the most popular posts are writing-related. My busiest day of the year was December 3rd with 146 views. The post that day was Writers Don’t Learn Writing By Writing. The second most read post was way back last January: Getting the Gears in Motion .

There’s been a flurry of year end and New Year activity as we all take stock, evaluate, decide on new directions and fresh starts. Me? I’m more of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. I was relatively content last year. I accomplished much of what I set out to do and enjoyed the doing. Yes, there are still unachieved goals as I continue my pursuit of publication, but they don’t require a major change of direction. They just require patience and persistence.

Taking stock isn’t a sedentary thing. I’m tuned in to God, listening, looking for direction. But I’m not marking time. I’m continuing to write, revise, and work at the craft. Staying active. Exercising my abilities. Even when I sometimes feel stalled I am moving ahead because I know God is there, ready to lead if I will follow.

Did you do  year end stock taking? What did it reveal about your progress? Is it causing you to continue on the same path or head out in a new direction?

When Plan A Doesn’t Work Out

Ice crystals sparkle in the air, a silent symphony to accompany the winter sunshine. My boots crunch a pattern in the new fallen snow, weaving a path as I wander through the garden checking the birdfeeders and replenishing their supply of seeds. I wish it were as easy to renew my enthusiasm as it is to top up the feeders.

The world held its breath as one year transitioned into another. Now January exhales and we begin again. Tomorrow businesses reopen after the Christmas break and children return to their classrooms. There are a few more days left in my holiday but soon my office will beckon me back to work. I’ve been writing every day, but the plans I made earlier for one of my manuscripts have been thwarted and I’m full of impatience and indecision. I need to do some re-evaluating, and that’s not what I expected to be doing as this new year shifts into motion.

Like the birds that visit my garden, I trust in God’s provision and look to him for guidance. His timing is always better than mine. I know that. But….

 

On my bulletin board there is a plaque sent to me by Keli Gwyn that says, “Life is all about how you handle Plan B.”  When life throws a monkey wrench into your Plan A, how do you develop Plan B?


“Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.” [Luke 12:7]

Facing the Unfamiliar With Confidence

We’re into a brand new year – a pristine wilderness awaiting our exploration.

Among the comments on one of my recent posts was one that has stuck in my mind. A writing friend admitted that she faces the publication of her second novel with a degree of fear…. something she recognizes as mimicking an earlier fear that “if I didn’t somehow [fulfill the dream], life would be incomplete and I would be a failure.”

Did you ever see the 1981 movie, On Golden Pond? I’ve been remembering the part where Henry Fonda goes hiking in the woods behind his cottage – I think it was in search of wild strawberries.  His memory fails him and what was once well-known terrain becomes terrifyingly unfamiliar. Lost in the trees he eventually finds his way back to the safety of the cottage. When he tells Katharine Hepburn why he came running back he says, it’s where “I could feel safe. I was still me.”

Not everyone faces this New Year with eagerness. For some of us who have spent the past year(s) writing in the secluded comfort of our homes and offices, the unfamiliar now looms out there on the horizon. The focus changes from putting words on a page to approaching agents, submitting manuscripts, sending our work out into the public eye. No longer are we just writing for ourselves, but marketing our creation to the world.

When we find ourselves faltering in unfamiliar terrain, and in need of finding a safe place where we are “still me”, instead of hesitating, procrastinating, or running back to the familiar, we need to seek that glimmer of light beyond the fear – to be reassured by God’s promises that he is the light, he is our refuge, and he goes before us into every situation.

It’s a new year. Step out boldly and explore with confidence.

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Is there anything upcoming that is causing you distress or fear? How do you plan to deal with it?

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Light arises in the darkness for the upright. [Psalm 112:4]

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. [Psalm 119:105]

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I typed the title and went to save it, only to be reminded by Word that I’d already written something with the same name. It turns out I started off last year with a January blog entry called, “I Love Mondays”. Okay, so I’m repetitious.  But now I’m also thwarted. I have to find another title. Maybe I’ll just leave it blank for now.

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I do love Mondays! My cold is on the wane; I’ve been talked out of procrastinating; sleeves are rolled up; I’m ready to push ahead.

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Mondays, especially in January, have that crisp, fresh-start feel. There’s something exhilarating about the long look ahead into a new week and another year.  ::crouching a bit here and ducking in case a Monday-hater is about to throw something at me::

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It’s a little like facing a blank page. Maybe a little daunting but with so much potential.

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How do you feel about blank pages and new beginnings? [And what title would you suggest for today’s post?]

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Getting the Gears in Motion

Everyone but me seems to be packing away Christmas decorations, evaluating the past year and making resolutions for the new one. Everyone but me. Other people are clearing away their mental and physical clutter, ready to dive with fresh determination into 2010’s challenges. Me? I’m less than enthusiastic.

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Part of me is ready to move out of holiday mode and return to routine while another part is procrastinating because I’m not quite ready to tackle what’s waiting for me.

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You see, I have two works in progress, both novels, one of which has been haunting me for months. I put it aside last fall in favour of making a start on something new during NaNoWriMo. Why I put it aside is perfectly explained in a post by Katie Ganshart. I swear she was reading my journal when she composed it!

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She starts out saying, “I’m reading through my rough draft of Wishing on Willows. Makes my stomach knot up like a tangled string of Christmas lights. I keep forcing myself to take deep, calming breaths. I keep reminding myself that this is how I always feel when I read through a first draft. My reminders do very little. Panic has its way. It perches inside my chest and heaves like a raving lunatic. Can you really fix this? Is this story even redeemable?”

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Oh, how I know that feeling! I’ve revised, reorganized, reworked, revamped, attempted to revitalize. I’ve done it all and still it reads like the pages of yesterday’s newspaper. Or the telephone book. Or an outdated shopping list. You get the idea. So I took a break from it. Now that it’s time to get back to work I would be happier returning to my newer novel but that know-it-all part of my conscience says I need to finish the other first.

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Katie’s probably right. She says, “The only remedy? Roll up my sleeves and get to work.” I guess it’s time to get the gears in motion.

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Now that the holidays are over what project is beckoning for your attention?

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[cough] Happy New Year [cough]

It’s New Year’s Eve and [cough, cough] I’m trying desperately to [cough] pull thoughts from my medicated mind for a brilliant year-end post. [cough, gag] Alas, it isn’t happening. Tylenol, Benylin and Otrivin have done their numbing routine on my brain and when I poke it for ideas only drivel flows out. [hack, hack]

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I’m absolutely, positively going to bed before midnight so, [cough, hack] from my location under an afghan on the couch, sipping a steamy hot Chai [cough] while admiring the sparkling tree lights, [no, of course I haven’t taken it down yet] toasting myself opposite a cozy fire and listening to my favourite Josh Groban “Noel” CD, [oh, give it up, Carol; you can’t sound literary no matter how you try so just say HAPPY NEW YEAR and be done with it] I’ll just say HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of you. [I’m not dying; it’s just a cold… cough, cough, cough.]