This time of year, people start making New Year’s Resolutions. I’m not sure why. Countless studies reveal most resolutions die by February (if they last even that long). About four years ago, I decided not to fall into the resolution kick, but rather to set goals for the year. The key to setting these goals is not to be too ambitious, but also not something that would take a week. For starters, I set out to lose ten pounds. I think I lost twenty that year, but my starting number was low enough to achieve. Setting goals for my writing life is a bit harder. For instance, I could set the goal to find a publisher. This goal is a little unfair considering it is not entirely within my control. I could submit to fifty publishers next year and may still be with the one I currently have. I try to stay small with my writing goals, keeping to things I can control: how often I write, what programs I want to apply for, how many bookstores/fairs I am going to sign at. I think specific goals are important. Not just that I want to do those things, but to set an actual number.
This time of year, people also start reflecting on their past. Again, for my writing life, this gets a little depressing. I was a teenager dreaming to be a New York Times Bestseller by now. I know this is not a realistic dream, but I have had to reassess my pursuits often, comparing them to reality whenever I set up a five-year plan. I think I can sit down and trash myself pretty easy and I don’t think I am unique in this aspect. Therefore, I have decided this year not to look back. Rather, I want to look forward. I want to set out goals and continue my plough through this foggy business. I want to watch my writing grow and pursue opportunities when they present themselves. But I am also starting to realize that I may need to create my own opportunities. As long as I am moving forward, that’s all that really matters.
This world is not as nice as it was when I was a teenager. I never used to think I’d say that, considering I was not one of the popular crowd. My teenage years were spent in hiding, wishing for the day when high school was over. Now, I find myself wishing things were simple once again. Teaching, I look at my students and laugh at what things they consider an important crisis. So, no, the world is not as nice as I used to believe. But, I think all we can ask for is to continue to move forward. Don’t live in the past, but look forward to what awaits on the horizon. That’s the only way to live. I hope all of you have a spectacular New Year. Here’s hoping that all of our dreams materialize in 2013.