Tomorrow marks a twenty year anniversary of sorts for me. On January 1, 1989, I made a vow in the journal I was starting to keep. On that date, I gave myself five years to get published, and I promised myself that I would work on some writing task, no matter how small, each day. That meant I would read a book about writing, or study a grammar guide, or, mostly, that I would just write. And I added a last promise, that if I’d really tried hard for five years and had nothing to show for it, I’d quit writing and not look back. I’m glad I didn’t have to abandon writing. In fact, I sold several things that first year, and quite a bit since, although at times I wonder if it’s gotten any easier.
Several times over those first five years I had to “rededicate” myself to writing. Life does get in the way. I was also establishing my career in those years, and a marriage that ultimately didn’t survive, and I was raising a son. I don’t regret letting those things get in the way of my writing. They had to. No matter how important writing is, life is more important. Other people are more important. Children are the most important. You can’t write without doing some living yourself.
Eventually, it became sort of routine to “renew” my commitment to writing each New Years, even if I’d written a lot and had good success in the previous year. I’ll do it in my journal again tomorrow. I don’t really make resolutions, per se, but I do take stock, and I believe it’s important at least once a year to verbally acknowledge those things that remain important goals in your life.
Looking back now on that original vow, I think the only thing I might change is the time limit I set for myself. I don’t think the time matters because every writer grows and develops in their own way and at their own pace. It only matters how many words you’ve put on the page, and whether you’ve tried each time to make them better, and if you’ve put in the hard work and study that you must do to improve.
I hope everyone out there has a wonderful New Year’s eve and New Year’s Day. As for me, I’m planning on enjoying the three F’s—food, football, and fine reading.