Sunday, January 4, 2015

Resolutions? Feh.

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Happy New Year!

If you're like many people, you've already broken whatever resolutions you made before the clock ticked over on New Year's Eve. Other than the set of writerly resolutions I wrote for Indies Unlimited last week (and let's not talk about where I am with the tooth brushing...), I didn't bother making any this year.

But folks on Facebook are always happy to share suggestions they've found elsewhere. Earlier this week, one of my buddies shared this list of 15 suggestions for 2015 from Elite Daily. Neither one of us is in Elite Daily's target GenY demographic, so maybe I shouldn't be nitpicking their suggestions. But I'm going to anyway.

These are the items I have issues with:
  • Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Ahem. Some people in this world aren't simply whiners; they really have had a tougher go of it than others. Not everybody has the sort of life they can change just by changing their attitude. And while we all admire the people who smile through their hard luck and exhibit grit and pluck and all those other great pioneer qualities, I'm pretty sure even those folks throw pity parties for themselves every now and then. Don't be a bore, sure. But if you're feeling down, don't make it worse by being hard on yourself.
  • Stop thinking money creates value. I think this one is phrased badly. What they're trying to say is, "Don't make decisions based on the cash value of the outcome." In general, I'm on board with this, but only to a point. I've had one of those careers everybody wants (broadcast news), and I've also had a completely prosaic one (my current day job). The prosaic job pays a lot better than the flashy career ever did. So yes, follow your heart -- but if you're going broke, you might want to reassess.
  • Stop saying "yes" all the time. Another one I'm only partially on board with. I agree that "no" is a complete sentence, and that too many of us think we owe people a reason for not doing the things they're trying to guilt us into doing. It took me decades to learn that giving reasons for your "no" just gives sales people and guilt-mongers more material to work with; they figure if they can answer your objections, they can talk you around to "yes." But the flip side is that you can get into the habit of saying "no" too often, too. In other words, you can yoke yourself to duty so tightly that you reject any opportunities for having fun. It's okay to play sometimes.
On the other hand, I can totally get behind these:
  • Stop comparing yourself to others. This one is spot on; comparing yourself to the Joneses is one of the fastest routes to misery and disappointment I can think of. I've occasionally seen this question tossed around: "Which author do you aspire to write like?" And my answer is always the same: Me. I want to write like me. Certainly, there are writers I admire because they do stuff I can't do. But they have their technique and their voice, and I have mine. I don't want to write like anybody else. If I try to emulate someone else, I will always fall short. That's a setup for feeling like a failure. And that's no way to live.
  • Stop worrying about what others think of you. You can't control their thoughts. And anyway, they're probably not thinking about you nearly as much as you think they are. (Especially if they're men.)
  • Stop thinking you have to get it right on the first try. This speaks to perfectionism, which is another quick route to misery and disappointment. Look, nobody's perfect. For certain, nobody's perfect on the first go-round. That's especially true of indie publishing. One of my perennial to-do list items is to go back to the first few paperbacks I published and reformat them. The margins in SwanSong are way too wide, and I didn't figure out how to format headers to look like trad books until Annealed. I'll get to it one of these days. In the meantime, they'll just be gloriously imperfect.
Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to go brush my teeth.

These moments of resolute blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

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