Sunday, January 2, 2011

Unfinished Business

Everyone makes a big deal out of New Year Resolutions. They're meaningless. Most people don't follow through on their January 1st declarations. More often than not, by January 2nd, the personal resolve fades. Really, if you were serious about what you said you wanted to do, you'd be doing it already.

That's why I purposely waited until now to blog in the New Year -- January 2nd --to talk about follow-through, both in writing and in life.

I have stored, on multiple hard-drives and in boxes, the beginnings of many fiction stories, both short and novel-length. All of them were abandoned, for one reason or another. With some, I just had no idea where to take the story. Others were left unfinished because other priorities took over -- be it my kids, my family, an editing or writing gig, blogging, or hanging out and talking with my friends. But really, they were excuses. I managed to write and edit other things -- jokes, essays, feature stories and blog posts -- but I always had a reason to not get back to my stories.

Honestly, I'd often struggle with the fiction once I got past my beginning. I got to the point where I hated what I was writing and found the story draining. I'm very good at deconstructing a fiction story, finding the problems and solutions for other people. But for some reason, constructing the fiction just ain't in me.

I used to promise myself that, one day, I'd buckle down, eliminate the distractions and finish those stories. And this is the point where most writers would declare their New Year's resolution to get those stories finished, write X number of pages per day, and complete their Great American Novel. But I'm not going to do that.

I'm leaving those stories abandoned. I'm letting them go.

Because really, if I was serious about what I said I wanted to do, I'd be doing it already.

Back in October, I read a post on the Advanced Riskology blog that really stuck with me, especially the opening section:

"Every decision you make is life or death. Every single one leads to one result or the other -- even the seemingly insignificant ones. When you decide to do something you love, you choose to live. When you decide to do something you don't, you choose to die, it really is that simple."

Personally, last year was -- for lack of a more poetic term -- a crap-tacular disaster for me. Among other things, my grand, years-in-the-making career plans to -- finally -- write fiction in a graduate school creative writing program went down in flames, and for a very long time after that happened, it felt like my dreams had died. I have been, to a certain extent, mourning that loss over the last six months.

The one bright spot has been launching my WordNerdGirl business, because I do love making things funny, writing essays and feature stories, writing this blog and editing stories and scripts for other people. LOVE IT. I've had a chance to work on projects I never would have tackled years ago.

Also, I've been taking improv classes (not -- it should be noted -- fiction writing classes, which I could have easily done). Initially, I did it to blow off steam and forget about my life aboard the Titanic. But learning how to perform and be funny on stage has done wonders for my writing. I'm exploring things I had always told myself I could never do. It's been challenging, but it also has been the thing that's made me feel alive, when so much else in my life has -- for lack of a more poetic term -- sucked.

It is January 2, 2011 and I am not a fiction writer. It is not something I love to do. It's something I always wanted to do. It is something I used to love to do, years ago, when I was a different person. And it's something I always thought I should be able to do. But I don't love it. So I'm letting it go.

I write almost every day. I am a funny writer, an essay writer, a script writer, a news and features writer, a kick-ass story editor and script doctor, and I am a WordNerdGirl blogger. But I am not a fiction writer.

Sometimes, I think, it takes coming face to face with what you are not to help you figure out what you are. It really is that simple.

If yesterday, you resolved to write more, submit your unpublished stories, or start a blog, it doesn't really matter. The real question is, what are you going to do today, January 2nd? And March 14th? And July 5th?  Writers write. If you are not writing on this day, or that day -- for whatever the reason -- then you are not a writer that day. And that's okay too.

My 2011 wish for everyone -- writers and not-writers alike -- is that you try new things, every day, figure out who you are not, and become who you are.

Happy New Year.

Referenced link: Advanced Riskology: Every Decision is Life or Death

1 comment:

  1. It is a milestone in life to reach a point of letting go - whether it be career fantasies or toxic relationships. It is the crux of Judith Viorst's "Necessary Losses," a book I once vehemently resisted and have now come to accept as wisdom. Congratulations on reaching this moment of clarity that will enable you to focus on what really matters to you!