Resolutions, the 2015 edition.

New year, new set of resolutions. It would be more appropriate to term these goals, since they are less about behavior modification and more about accomplishing things within this outlined number of months, but tradition dictates.

Last year I made the following resolutions:

1. Read 20 books (with some specifications, which I’ll address following.)

2. Re-open and tackle my manuscript Roma Roma.

3. Bring order to the dark places (i.e. closets, attic, under the sink, laundry room) in my house.

The results are in:

1. Half-check. I did read twenty books by the very skin of my teeth. I ended the year with The Old Man and the Sea (Hemmingway), chosen for its length but perhaps one of the most chilling, resonant books of the year. (List forthcoming next week) In this resolution, I specified I meant to read three biographies, three nonfiction, five classics, nine fiction. The challenge was mainly in not reading all fiction. I read at least one in all categories, but didn’t come close to meeting those specs. So we’ll say this was a half-complete. I feel fine about it, I read some great books this year.

2. Check! Sort of. On January second I opened up Roma Roma and began to read. I opened it up with high expectations and was horrified. I don’t like it. I wrote it, I poured my heart and soul into it for a year, but I don’t like it. I finished with a gnawing sense of dread. I thought I was a writer, I thought it was good and it wasn’t. It was crushing, to be honest. I couldn’t believe it. I was bored by the plot, unenthused about the dramatic points, disillusioned with the vocabulary, vaguely satisfied with the dialogue. I sat staring at that binder of pages startled, more than anything else. My other manuscript, then titled Lost Lily was something I hadn’t touched since 2011. I have always believed in that book with the deepest part of me, but felt daunted by it, like the story is too big for me to tell well. But in the wake of disappointment, and in a drive of desperation, I re-opened that dusty pile of pages.

Here is an excerpt from a post in April, regarding this manuscript.

“I flayed it open – a re-read with fresh eyes after two years of forgetting the finer plot points. I was surprised to find that I still loved the story… I started pulling out the guts – went through those pages of Times New Roman with a slasher pen making big Xs and frown faces and question marks, writing comments like this sucks; no no no; ugh, remove; nobody says that; this doesn’t work; and most commonly AWFUL. I removed major plot points and replaced them with ones that were more specific, unique, myself. Now I am somewhere between the disposal of the guts step and the the carving out pieces of lovely white meat step.”

This has been one of the most exciting endeavors of my life, working this novel through start to finish. I worked on it almost every single day of this year – early mornings, holidays, sick days, in the car, in a log cabin, on airplanes, in a taxi. It’s been edited by myself and others, re-written over and over again. I am in the process of completing a draft, and then I plan to do another. And then I plan to self-publish. This book, this project, has demanded a tremendous effort I’ve been delighted to give, and it’s affirmed my sense of calling.

3. I can’t give this a check in good conscience. I did organize the bathroom sinks and the shelves in the nook off the kitchen. Oh well.

That leaves me with about a fifty percent, which is technically failing! But it doesn’t feel like that from where I stand.

So, for 2015.

1. Finish and self-publish the book. Enough said.

2. Find a healthy, sustainable rhythm for my life. I don’t know how this will look. I have to work. I have to raise Jack. I have to have friends. I have to keep clean, healthy, fed and getting where I need to go. But somehow it’s too much, life feels frantic, and I’m starting to think it’s shadowing my family in a way I’ll look back on and regret. Something’s got to give, and I mean to figure it out this year, God help me.

3. Plan our trip to France. We’re going to France in 2016, and this trip needs to be planned! I’m on it. Bon voyage!

4. Move outside myself in a new way. I am going to open my arms wide for this one, praying that I’ll have eyes to see whom or whatever happens to come into my corner of the world this year. I look forward to seeing the yield of this one year from today.

I will leave you with this passage from the book of Luke, which I’ve decided to adopt as my mantra for the year, believing that at the heart of all this desire and hope is simply the intention of building my house on the rock.

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and ruin of that house was great.”

Happy New Year to you. I hope you, too, will jot down a few goals so in a year, you’ll have a marker to look back on.