Sunday, January 7, 2018

Obligatory New Year's Resolution Post

I'll be honest: I've never done this. I mean, yeah, I have made New Year's resolutions before, and I actually (usually) keep them. But I've never announced my resolution to the masses, mostly because I'm not vain enough to believe that anyone actually gives a single crap. But -- at the risk of sounding completely stereotypical -- 2018 feels different.  

I have a few personal resolutions that, like usual, I'm going to keep to myself. However, this year I am going to make a public resolution, one that pertains specifically to my writing. 

In 2018 and beyond, I am going to stop looking backwards.

This seems obvious, I know, but give me a chance to explain. I spend an inordinate amount of time looking at old writing and lamenting my word choice, typos, or sentence structure. This chapter would have had much more impact if I had only done this. This novel could be elevated if I had spent more time on it and done this. It's exhausting. And I used to think that it was a necessary step to getting better at your craft. Now I think otherwise. 

Yes-- you should always look to past missteps to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. But what you shouldn't do is fixate, obsess, and - worst of all - feel shame about something you've created. We all cringe at some of the early things we made, but those products are still valuable. They represent the you that existed before. And now you've grown. That's okay. That shouldn't be a source of embarrassment; growth is miraculous! As artists of any type, we should be celebrating these perceived failures as what they really are: prototypes or drafts or practice rounds that inevitably lead to a bigger, better, and more satisfying creation.

 "Do your best until you know better. Then when you know better, do better." -Maya Angelou. My mom is forever quoting this to me, and today, this really rings true. No one expects a creator to be perfect. We expect creators to grow and change and above all, to keep creating. If you can do that, well, you can do anything. 

Long story short, since I decided to stop looking backwards, I outlined a new novel, wrote three drafts of the first chapter, and one draft of chapter two. 

It doesn't feel perfect, but it feels good.
And that's enough.