New Year’s resolutions are increasingly indistinguishable from wish lists. Millions of people across America will resolve to quit smoking, lose weight, get fit, watch less TV, be kinder, save money, volunteer, etc. The list usually involves taking away a vice or adding a virtue. Depending on your statistical source, only 8 to 20 percent of these promises are ultimately kept, but the odds are decent (about 70 percent) for the first two weeks. Clearly, the lesson is to go gangbusters right out of the gate and make as much headway as you can. Good habits are as hard to make as bad ones are to break.
I wrote a blog post last January called Resolved for 2015 in which I laid out four things to work on. Before I get to 2016’s wish list, let’s look back and see how I did.
1 — Blog more often: I went from 15 posts in 2014 to 24 in 2015, and revised the format to include updates on works in progress. This resolution gets the full 5 stars. ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
2 — Stop amplifying the negativity in the news: During the midterm elections of 2014, I got caught up in the outrage, posting often on social media about which idiot said what about gays, women, minorities, immigrants, poor people, etc. It’s been tough holding back during a year in which Donald Trump was the media’s centerpiece. But it’s a perfect illustration of why we have to stifle our outrage and replace it with positive messages — Trump’s nonsense already gives him 23 times the media coverage as Bernie Sanders (who outpolls him), and it’s counter-productive for us to amplify it in social media. Though I reined myself in, I still managed to post quite a few times on environmental issues, the 1% economy, and civil and women’s rights. I’ll score myself 3 out 5 stars. ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
3 — Write a novella: Nope, not even. For my 60th birthday in October, I’d hoped to offer a novella as a fundraiser for Lambda Literary — a peek into the future to see what Anna Kaklis and her family would be up to at 60. Instead, I took over as president of the organization in June and found myself with barely enough time to get the two contracted books turned in. I made some notes though, and I may yet write this story. One star. ⭐
4 — More patience, less agitation: That’s an ongoing issue for me, but I made some progress, thanks especially to my efforts for resolution #2. I probably won’t ever accept the things I can’t change, but I’m getting better at ignoring them. Four out of 5. ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Now for 2016 …
1 — Stay committed to Lambda Literary. And find more ways to thank and honor those who support the organization on my behalf.
2 — Write a short story. Yeah, I know … there’s the 2015 novella bust. But I’ve committed to an anthology for 2016, so it’s a great time to go into my story ideas and pull out one that didn’t lend itself to a novel. Now to find the time.
3 — Work more offline. If you’re a writer, you already know how much time you lose by clicking on something and falling into a black hole. I have trouble resisting the urge to surf the web, so I’m going to try working a couple of hours a day away from the Internet, either with my digital recorder or on the top floor of our house, where the reception is spotty. That should help with #2, to say nothing of getting two more novels out in 2016.
4 — This one is personal: I want to settle in one place this year. Ever since Jenny retired in 2004, we’ve done the snowbird thing, escaping the NC mountain winter in Miami or Palm Springs. But we’ve grown tired of the hassle. Time flies so fast at our age that it feels like we just got somewhere when it’s time to leave. This is the year we pick a place and stay put. Either a high-rise in Miami or our mountain house in NC. Both have pros & cons. Stay tuned.
When tragedy leaves Ellis Keene isolated and struggling to find her way, she learns the value of true friendship. Is it any wonder she’d want more from the woman who made her feel again, whose faith and understanding showed her a new way? The Touch of a Woman came out in Kindle just before Christmas. Thanks to all of you who pushed it up to #3 last week.
Trial by Fury is still with my editor, slated for a May release. I look forward to sharing the cover and synopsis soon.
Only the Summer is the work in progress, slotted into Bella’s schedule for November. I’ve lost focus over the holidays, so every time I sit down to work, I have to start again from the beginning. Eventually I’ll get past Chapter 3 and see what happens.