Friday, January 1, 2010
The New Year stretches before us and I wonder, like Emily Starr, a character in canadian author L.M. Montgomery's book, Emily of New Moon, what we will accomplish, how we will grow and who we will have become at the end of the journey? Will it be a year fulfilling all of our best hopes and dreams, a year of sorrow and pain leading to new awareness and growth, or a year with a sweet mix of both? One we'll look back on with contentment, knowing it was a year well lived.
What will I write during this year? What lands will I travel too and what characters will I meet? What books will I read? And what will I learn through it all?
Traditionally, on New Years, one makes New Years resolutions. Resolutions we all cynically tease each other about, instilling doubts as to the length of time we will actually maintain them. It seems to be a contest that happens every year where we all take unspoken bets on whose resolution will last the longest. Those who are successful at keeping their resolutions either have extreme willpower or spent hours deliberating and watering down their expectations to something which might be reasonable to accomplish.
This year, I was struck by the idea of not making New Years resolutions, but rather making New Years wishes. I'm not sure that I believe the old adage that if you tell a wish it won't come true. But, I still can't tell you what my wishes are because that's the nature of wishes, they are more personal and more private than resolutions. And in truth, I feel more deeply about the things I wish for than the things I would resolve to do. Even the whole idea of the word resolution sounds like a duty and nobody loves a duty.
People are more likely to do things out of love than duty. So if resolutions are a duty to keep is it any wonder that so many of us fail? Goals, on the other hand are more positive. Goals are things I want to work towards and a well thought out goal is usually achievable. I have many writing goals, the biggest of which are:
1)to get more things published (probably achievable) and
2)to be able to write 8 hours a day (definitely not something happening tomorrow - unless I win the lottery).
However, I would rather make small attainable goals throughout the year. And isn't the idea behind a resolution that it should be big enough you can carry it throughout the year from beginning to end and celebrate it's success before making a new one? A wish may or may not last all year. And if you had many wishes you could assess how many were achieved in the year, how many you are still hoping for, and what ones you have grown mature enough, in retrospect, to see were unrealistic.
A wish is like a hope, it keeps one going, it's more positive and there isn't the same pressure to put out. But, how to keep track? If I were to write my wish down I get the feeling it's very concreteness on the paper would steal it's power. For a wishes hope lies in the very nature of it's elusiveness and uncertainty. So what does a writer do to keep track of wishes?
When I think of keeping track of wishes my thoughts go back to Montgomery’s Emily and something she did to keep track of her dreams. Emily was a writer. And much like writers today she fought for every small victory with blood, sweat and rejection letters. But, as a writer she had a special way of keeping track of her own growth and hopes for the future. As a young woman overcome with dreams, goals and desires, she began writing herself letters to be opened at a later date. These became treasures she would read by herself, at the appointed time, with mixed bitterness and joy as she remembered the person she had been, her innocent longings, her old hopes and her mixed successes. After reading them she would put them aside and write herself another letter, replying to her thoughts and making more wishes for the future.
And so, sometime on this New Years Day, I am going to write myself a letter. I will not exactly write out my wishes, preferring them to keep the power of their ether, but will instead compose a letter exploring the hopes and possibilities of where I might find myself in my unwritten future should my wishes have been granted and comtemplate what wisdom I may have gained in the journey. And when the day comes to open it, I will see how far I've come, how unrealistic some of my expectations were (and hopefully some which were not) and how much I've grown as a writer and a woman.
Happy New Year!