The Good of the Story: On making (and breaking) New Year’s Resolutions

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How are them New Year’s Resolutions going so far?

If you’re scrunching your face into a grimace right now, I’ve got a message to relay: it’s OK if you haven’t made a heck of a lot of headway on your 2019 goals just yet.

The year is new, and there’s still plenty of time to flex those creative muscles — or to focus on other things entirely.

Maybe some of your 2019 resolutions are about writing. Maybe none of ‘em are. Maybe all of ‘em are, but you feel like a chump because your enthusiasm is already flaggy and flaccid, and life is distracting, and time is short, and death is sure, etc., etc.

I hope you do write. Copiously. But if you don’t, well, I additionally hope you don’t castigate yourself too much for it. Perhaps it’s only because the hour of creation — your hour — simply hasn't yet arrived. Because you're busy. Or you’re young. Or you’re old, but you’re still just not ready.

Because perhaps nobody's quite ready to really, really write until the world has flung them a few dozen more revelations, and double that number in nasty surprises, plus twenty-some-odd strokes of impossible luck, at least four untimely deaths, and six-or-so broken-then-mended hearts.

If you think about it, so much of our time on earth is devoted to getting brutally schooled by the Universe that it’s amazing we ever find time to make art or love or music at all.

The tradeoff? Our Cosmic Mama is also galactically generous when it comes to dishing out creative source material.

Maybe in 2019 you will watch a parent die. Maybe you will teach or rest or climb a mountain. Maybe you will garden or build a chair or crash a car or move cross-country or make a baby or divorce your spouse unexpectedly.

Whatever happens, everything you will do this year that seems to bear no relationship to your writing practice is, in fact, the education that is preparing you to write, if you remain open to the teachings. If you use it.

So. Write 500,000 words or write five or write zero and go bake banana bread instead. (With nuts and raisins. Always with nuts and raisins, ya barbarian.)

Whatever you do or don't get done in 2019, take care, always, to watch the world, to listen to her deeply.

Like, really deeply.

These things, too, are elemental to creative work.

These things, too, matter.

They are the essential (and, yes) profoundly creative tasks that will ready you to make beautiful stories, one day, not now, perhaps, but surely someday soon, when the time is fully, finally, infungibly ripe