Wednesday, January 13, 2010


It's January.

I hate Januaries.

Not that there's anything inherently wrong with the month, mind you, it's just all the people asking me what resolutions I made. Or hinting strongly that there are some resolutions I should have made and it's not too late...

A lot of people swear by this practice, like a walking Madison Avenue slogan: "It's A New Year & A New You!" For whatever reason, our species hangs a lot of hopes on the simple act of turning a calendar page. When you get to buy a whole new calendar, so much the better, I suppose.

I don't really do resolutions -- the way I figure it, I write enough fiction as it is. I decided long ago that if I was going to accomplish anything, I had to stop relying on a calendar to tell me when I could get started and just go already. And it has always perplexed me that people make such a big deal about a promise that they know full well that they're going to break by February 10th. That's the very definition of an exercise in futility.

It took a couple of decades for me to realize that I was just being cynical. (What can I say? I'm a slow learner.) If the point of the exercise was to make promises you don't intent to keep, then I was right. But, if the point is to ritually express an unrealized ambition, then in that light at least, I see some value to it.

Because I'm a writer and especially since I started writing this blog, my friends have been confiding in me their literary ambitions both large and small. Which is great; I love hearing about what other people are writing and discussing it with them. I don't spend three days a week in a college writing and tutoring center because it pays well. (Click on "email me" in the sidebar if you want to join the circle.) But I still don't care what the calendar says, if you want to write something, do it.

Just because participating in National Novel Writing Month is a kick doesn't mean you have to wait until November. If the camaraderie of knowing that you're not the only one slogging through a storyline is helpful, join a writing group. Or form one of your own.

So here we are.

It's January.

And if a resolution is the externalization of ambition, then here's mine: I resolve to get you to write this year. I don't know how I'm going to do this, but that's my goal. I don't care if it's a novel or a short story, a memoir or a family history. It doesn't have to be publishable. It doesn't have to be literature. It doesn't have to be something you share with anyone. Writing is about uniting life and language. At the risk of getting cute, voicing the ambition to write is a good first step, but it's not a journey until you take the second step.

1 comment:

  1. This is fantastic! I must admit, at times I do get excited about the new year. Not necessarily because of resolutions (heck, every year I joke that I'm going to stop biting my nails and by Jan 2nd I'm already doing it again), but because it's a way to "start over." Maybe it's just being naive. Regardless, I DO want to write more this year. I DO plan to and I already have to an extent.

    Anyway, I'm new to your blog (obviously) and have probably revealed more than you care to know. I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed your post. A resolution, or a day, shouldn't make you do something. The desire, the want, should.


Pages to Type is a blog about books, writing and literary culture (with the occasional digression into coffee and the care and feeding of giant robots).