The end of one year and beginning of the new, a blazing explosion, a fiery goblet, and a burning regret that leads to a wall-eyed morning and the numerical designation of 2017. For the Chinese it is the Year of the Rooster, whose formal beginning is January 28, close enough for me. One born this year is slated to be hardworking, funny, trustworthy, and talented. With nothing more irrefutable than astrological signs or a tarot deck, I attempt to predict my future year. The shifting constellations, a foggy crystal ball, one shuffle of cards, and I sit at Buddha’s feet, wondering along with all the other postulants. At what strange place have I been lodged and what new port will welcome me? What might I commit to complete before the Year of the Dog begins to bark?
In many ways, it will be the same, same address, same routine, and same faces that regard me with winks, hugs, or heaving sighs. In other ways it will all be new, as if I’ve been cast off a space ship and jettisoned to a new galaxy where I can’t breathe. It’s this insecurity that keeps me from making resolutions, the near certain knowledge that no matter what I plan, it will be unlikely to proceed toward success. On less than one hand – really, on fewer than the knuckles on one finger – can I count my writing successes for this past year. I’ve written, yes, that I have. I made a final edit on my three completed books, made a substantive start on a fourth, and have five new ideas to pursue. I was turned down for a position I felt I was very qualified to undertake and I sulked like a three-year-old. As 2015 was the year I didn’t write on this blog, 2016 was the year I reclaimed it with reasonable effort, including a new alphabet series highlighting favorite books by letter. (H is for The History of Love published on January 6; I is for The Invention of Wings will publish on January 12.)
Then came the readers, from my critique group writing partners to the readers of this blog, with kind comments, suggestions for improvement, pats on the back, and true friendships among fellow writers. I extend my most sincere thanks to all of you. I feel like a writer, a real bona fide writer. (Redundant, I know.) My writing has been recognized as decent, my insecurity concerning my skills given a good slap on the hands. Here are the knuckles, raw with counting coup.
But the open door to an agent, the contract with an editor, the published book in hand: those glories did not happen. Admittedly, mostly my own fault. One must write, query, contact like tackle football if one is to tender a relationship with the publishing world. I didn’t, and that’s why I hesitate to write a set of resolutions for 2017. No point in promising what will be a certified failure. What writing I wanted most to work on, my newest book, got shunted to the side track of my circus, and the rooster bodes more obligations than will leave me time to write.
This post is not a pity party and I’m not looking for sympathy or an easy pass to achievement. All that must be earned. I am in a way a victim of my adult responsibilities. My (unpaid) position as my mother’s durable power of attorney (she suffers from advanced Alzheimer’s disease) sits on my calendar like a cock on the doorstep. She can’t live without it, I won’t budge it. My commitment to the other members of the writing critique group requires thoughtful consideration, the book beckons, the blog needs attention on regular basis, and I’m having difficulty with everything on a regular basis. I did mention I have a family, didn’t I?
What is wrong with me that I can’t muster a resolution for the New Year? It’s not just laziness or past experience, though their wrinkled lines are hard to smooth. It’s not simply presumption of failure which makes me quake. Most people don’t like that bitter taste and I can hardly be blamed for conformity. It’s that I truly loathe not being able to keep a commitment. I can’t tolerate saying I will do this set of resolutions in 2017, then fail to keep my word. I want some measure of probable success, a reasonable percentage point I can bet on. I want to know if I state that this writer will finalize all four books I’ve started, will send out x number of queries, will write y posts for Ink Flare, and n amount for Today’s Author, (the other blog for which I write) that you can count every single page and post and get to 99%. Many raw knuckles.
Still, it is the first week of the year. It’s said the rooster harks the morning sun because it can. I can make an effort. Nothing pricked in blood on parchment, but a scratch clawed in the dirt. Here it is, my 2017 resolution:
I will try to write on a regular basis, to complete what I’ve started, to query my work for genuine consideration, to make my dream come true. Best I can do.
The sun peaks her fiery head over the horizon. I’m harking.
Chinese New Year image courtesy: Google images public domain