Friday, January 3, 2014

On Resolutions

I haven't made any New Years resolutions in the last few years. It didn't seem like there was a point, I never achieved them. I got frustrated and quit.

This year, though, I tried to do something a little different. After reading Jessica Spotswood's brilliant post on 2013 as a learning year, I started thinking. The post resonated with me. I'd been feeling similar things. As a result, lately in my writing I've been trying to focus on what I can control. 

Book sales and reviews and a lot of what happens after a book is published are so often out of my hands and worrying about those aspects of publishing can be stressful and frustrating. It's tough, but I am continuously trying to focus on the elements that I can control--the book I write, my edits, what I'm doing to connect with readers, etc.

Similarly with resolutions in 2014, I'm going to focus on what I can control. Instead of listing resolutions that are results, like "lose 10 pounds" or "sell another book" I'm going to focus on the smaller steps, my behaviors. Of course I'll be happy if those things in turn influence the results I might have wanted, but in the end I want to be able to be happy and feel rewarded with the effort I'm putting forward.

So here are my 2014 Resolutions

1. Work out 3-5 times a week.
I've already been doing this--only for a few weeks, but I'm quite pleased with myself. I got a jawbone as an early Christmas present and it's been helping me keep track of my life.

The truth is, I really love food and sitting and television and sugar. But sometimes it makes me feel like a big lump. As much as I hate getting out of bed early (or anytime really) I do always feel more energized and happier after working out.

Oh and I wanted to be ambitious and just say five times a week, but let's face it, some weeks are going to be crazier than others.

2. Get 7-8 hrs of sleep each night.
This is again inspired by the jawbone--it's amazing to see your sleep patterns!

(mine are admittedly not that great)

When I was in high school I got up every morning to go to swim practice at 5 am (I still hate getting wet in the morning, it's like I have flashbacks to those winter mornings walking into first period and discovering my hair was frozen). I could go to bed at midnight and sleep for five hours and be totally fine. Now, not so much. I do a lot of "catching up with sleep" on the weekends which often can make me feel like said lump. I want to make an effort to go to bed earlier and get enough sleep so I'm not sleeping the day away on Sundays.

3. Draft 2 new novels.
Being published has made me a slower writer. I think it's all the extra things that go into publishing like extra content and blog posts and interviews and being a part of social media. Oh, and edits. Those can take a long time too.

But it's more than that. Doubt and insecurity can really paralyze you even more when published than when it might have beforehand. Things like negative reviews or disappointing sales figures sometimes sit in the back of my mind and make me worry about what people will think of this newest book idea. At the same time, even the good stuff like great reviews or wonderful fans can inspire that pressure: what if they don't like this book as much as they liked the last one, what if I let them down?

I never thought about those things before--I was too focused on the story. I was writing because I loved writing and because I believed in the characters and the story and the world. I want to get back to that, focus on the writing and the story. Everything else can come later.

4. Blog 1-2 times a week with pictures!
I got a new camera for Christmas. This makes me want to get back to taking more pictures. Sure I've taken pictures with my phone for the last few years but it's not really the same. There's something about a real camera that makes taking pictures much more fun.

I've also recently discovered The Londoner. She has a great blog with everything from fashion to food to travel. Her blog reminded me what I liked about blogging before I sold my first book. It's journaling for the internet.

As someone who's always been rather shy, I still haven't quite mastered twitter. And selling a novel can make social media a strange water to navigate. The past couple years I've felt so unsure about finding the right balance between talking about my book and not annoying people with it, and this holiday I realized I'm thinking too much. I want to blog and share pictures and feel inspired via social media. I want to put myself out there more. This is how I'm going to start.

5. Learn common phrases in Italian.
Last year I went to the Bologna Book Fair. It was awesome. It was a great excuse to go to Italy for my birthday and eat a lot of food and even treat myself to a new purse.

The trip wasn't exactly last minute but it wasn't really well planned on my part either. I was busy and I didn't think about things like dinner reservations or how I would communicate with my cab driver.

I realized when I arrived that I was that American, the one who goes to another country and expects everyone else to speak English. This was particularly noticeable when I was in a cab and headed to dinner. I was struggling to converse with a super friendly and awesome driver. He kept apologizing for his "poor English" which let's face it, was way better than my non-existent Italian.

This year, I want to do better. I'm doubt I'll master the language very quickly or work any miracles in a few months but I want to be able to ask for directions, order my food, explain where I'm going and maybe even buy another purse.

Some honorable mentions or things that almost made this list are eating more vegetables, reading more non-fiction, and taking these beasts for longer walks.

After all, they lay around a lot and I don't want them feeling like lumps either.


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