Writerly goals and personal battles for the new year.

On New Year’s Eve, I posted about a minor resolution dilemma. I was torn between posting a list of New Year’s resolutions and checking in monthly on this blog to report progress or using 2012 to work on some major inner conflicts.

Since I’m the sort of person who likes to have her cake and eat it too, I’ve decided to do a little of both. My resolutions are mostly writing-related. I’ll check in on the first of each month with my progress on these.

My conflict resolutions are personal, but I plan to treat them as if they were a project for grad school. I’m going to do more than search my soul for the answers to my questions, because I need a little more assistance than my soul is capable of providing. So I will pair navel-gazing with research and examine as many sides of each issue as I can. By year’s end, I plan to have written a long essay about at least one of the conflicts I worked on, and I will try to publish it. (I’m going to try to submit the essay to a magazine or journal, but if all else fails, I will publish it here.)

The ground rules are set. Here are my resolutions and conflicts: Continue reading

New Years resolutions or New Years conflict resolutions?

For a while now, I’ve been feeling that it’s time to embrace New Year’s resolutions. I’ve also been thinking that this blog might be a good place to do this.

I know. New Years resolutions are boring. I can practically feel all of you unsubscribing.

But I have a model for this plan and an entertaining one: for as long as I have been following his exploits, author Matthew Dicks (a fellow Trinity grad) has posted his New Years resolutions on his blog at the beginning of each year. He then checks in monthly, reporting his progress on each goal, even if there has been no progress. This strikes me as a good way of laying out my goals and of holding my own feet to the fire.

When I mentioned this plan to my husband yesterday, he offered another idea: Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, use 2012 to work on some of my conflicts. Not external conflicts (although I have some fun ideas for resolving my conflict with the guy who keeps visiting our neighbors and parking in my spot) but the internal ones that seem to cause daily havoc. My husband knows all about these conflicts, since he has to listen to me talk them out for hours on end, so perhaps his suggestion is a little on the self-serving side.

I’m intrigued by the conflict resolution idea, but I see a couple of problems with it. For one thing, it’s a tall order. Let me give you an example. Here’s a resolution I was thinking of making: Go back to church at least once a month. Here’s the underlying conflict that needs to be resolved: I made a promise to the Catholic church, but my beliefs have wandered far, far away from church doctrine and I’m not sure I can keep my promise without being a hypocrite.

You can see the difference between the two. Going back to church once a month is easy and measurable and doesn’t lay the troubles of my soul bare for all the Internet to see. On the other hand, working on the conflict will probably create lasting change. And then there’s another problem. If I’m just making resolutions, I can make a long list of goals, but if I’m going to devote time to my inner conflicts, I can only choose one or two and then I have to figure out how to measure them, because if I am actually going to do this, I need to hold myself accountable in some way. Right now, long essays – which I will try to publish – seem the best way of doing this.

I don’t know. I haven’t decided yet. There is a lot of merit to a list of achievable New Year’s resolutions. There’s value in goals like Get an agent by July or Get thee to a dentist. I will have to come to a decision in the next 24 hours. 2012 ought to be a productive year, even if it the Mayans are right and it is the very last year.