Starting out a new year always seems like "Woo! A fresh beginning! A chance to start over!" with the implication that "This time, I'll do it right!"
I've got a couple of nits to pick with that.
First, the same applies to every morning. I prefer to look at each new day as a chance to start again. Every day is a New Year's Day, even if it's a Wednesday in the middle of April. Don't get me wrong. Year end is a year beginning and that's cool. It's like a door into the future - as soon as we enter, we can pretend everything gets reset. But if I get off on the wrong foot on January 15th, I'm screwed on an annual framework. When I only have to get through today? Well, Ground Hog Day. I can get up tomorrow and do something different.
Second, I'm not convinced "do it right" is a meaningful construct. The difficulty for me is figuring out what "right" is. Most times, I don't know until after I've done it whether it was right or not - 20/20 hindsight and all that. What's been more interesting to me is that I seem to learn the most from doing it "wrong" - what I thought was "wrong" turned out to be pretty darn good. I'm not saying "Go break a window," but maybe you keep using that word "wrong" and I do not think it means what you think it means. At least not always.
Which brings me to looking at outlook, looking forward, and an aphorism that is more canard than value. You've probably heard it:
Here's the thing.
It's half right. Writing isn't a sprint.
It's half wrong. Writing isn't a marathon.
By trying to treat it as a race of any kind, it sounds like there should be a finish line. A tape you can break with your chest as you cross that line or a trophy you can collect on the way out of the stadium.
Maybe it's different for you, but for me, writing is neither sprint nor marathon. It's not a race. It's a way of life and nobody gets out alive. While that may sound moribund, for me it's an important reminder that, however we look at writing, we each have a finite amount of time to practice our craft. I see that as a challenge worth rising to. I see that as a really good reason to keep getting up every morning and putting on my writing shoes. It's a good reminder at this cusp of a year that whatever happened last year happened. What matters most is what happens today, and I'll see what I can do to make sure I leave as many good stories behind as I can without worrying about whether or not I'm winning.
Because with writing, you can't win. You can only do.
Here's to a productive and prosperous new year to all my friends in RMFW. May you all keep doing.Image credit: Webweaver's Clipart