It’s January and many of us made—and happily abandoned—resolutions. I made only one, with my family, and that is to go at least three musicals. We’ve already seen one and I’m feeling pretty sassy about that.
When I was a teenager, I often resolved to exercise more. One January I headed out for my first run. Somewhere I got the idea that I’d lose lots of weight if I wrapped plastic wrap around my torso, so off I sprinted, layers of plastic squeaking under my shirt, up our street. I went perhaps 1/20th of a mile and, panting and overheated, gave up.
I’ve never been good at sprinting. I am better at making plans, and then, when I fail to meet my goals, making new ones.
Writers are often great goal setters.
Some of my writing resolutions have been: Write for two hours every day. Or: Write 1500 words a day. And there was: Finish the novel by summertime.
Sometimes I followed the resolutions, but more often they get forgotten or deliberately, almost defiantly ignored.
I think what gets in the way is another meaning of “resolution.” A photo with high resolution is one with great clarity. The closer you look at it, the more detail it yields. You can get very, very close, and the photo still looks crisp.
But the closer you look at my resolutions, the fuzzier they become. Write for two hours a day. Which two hours? Is thinking about the plot considered writing? Does that include “research” on the Internet? What about correspondence—is that considered writing? Any self-respecting wordsmith can parse his or her own meaning here.
Write 1500 words a day. Does that mean new words? Or can you use a revision as part of that word count even though it feels like cheating? Does brainstorming or thinking out character traits count?
Finish the novel by summertime. Okay, that one feels more finite, but then we have the definition of “finish.” Crummy first draft? Revised third draft, ready for critique? And is it still summer in September? What about Indian summer, which comes to my town in October?
A third meaning of “resolution” comes to play too. How can we be done with things, bringing them to resolution, without a high-resolution resolution?
So I am mulling over how to keep myself from writing resolutions without much resolution. My work in progress is coming to a close. I could tinker with the ending for months, trying many forms and possibilities. But that wouldn’t bring the project to resolution.
I resolve: to send the draft by the date I just wrote on my calendar, February 10, 2015. Now that’s a resolution about resolution, with resolution.