Today, Karen Brown- author of The Longings of Wayward Girls, discusses why she broke her rule of not making resolutions.
Guest Post by Karen Brown:
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. It’s always seemed like a gesture doomed to failure, made at an incredibly auspicious moment—one that each year feels full of magic. Keeping a resolution made for the New Year was a little like having made a wish knowing that I was the only one able to grant it. As a child I’d address my weaknesses: I vow not to procrastinate. These seemed things I could address and control, but they were dull, everyday commitments, and never seemed to match the thrill of a new date written at the top of a school paper. I found soon enough that as the year progressed I fell back into habits that were probably not in my control to change.
As an adult one New Year’s Eve, standing in a line for the ladies room in a club, the band booming through the wall, I spoke my resolution out loud to a woman I hardly knew. “I’m going to publish my writing.” I’m sure she smiled at me, indulgently, and then disappeared into the next available stall. This resolution seemed far too outlandish—and it would take years for it to become a reality. Maybe a resolution is simply a reaffirmation of our dreams, and a chance to prove we can be the person we imagined?
This year, I decided to make a resolution before the new year presented itself. I wanted to finish a draft of my new novel by midnight. Even making the decision had a sense of the fairy tale about it. I’d been working on the thing all summer, and making little headway. I was dabbling, not really writing. As New Year’s approached I knew that a deadline was necessary, and what better reward than that sense of completion as the new year rolled in?
I made no other plans New Year’s Eve—no other commitments. I worked for fourteen straight hours with few breaks. At eleven thirty I wrote the last scene and at midnight I opened a bottle of champagne—a gift from the childhood friend to whom I’d dedicated my first novel, and who before a visit last summer I hadn’t seen in over thirty years. Of course the book isn’t entirely complete, but reaching the end, letting the story lead me to reveal where it’s been headed all along, is completion enough. A new draft for a New Year! Other than health and happiness, as a writer I can’t think of anything better.