Last year I took on an overarching theme as my resolve for my personal and writing life: to become more congruent. I had never gone this route of approaching my goals thematically more than specifically and loved doing it.
For now, my thematic goal is…CONTENTMENT. I want to be more content both personally and as a writer, though I have a few more writing goals beyond contentment.
In a way, this is code for: I’m taking this year off from goals! And I’m really looking forward to it! But actually contentment can be elusive and therefore is a goal.
Why Contentment is My Main Goal This Year
In all things personal, I’m orienting myself toward accepting things as they are and seeking to improve things only insomuch as they maximize my enjoyment of life. By that I just mean, I’m going to eat healthy and work out, for example, because I’m happier when I do. Those things make me feel good. No other reasons are allowed in my mental space, because this year I’m strengthening my ability to savor life in its imperfection–to include downright enjoying who I am in my imperfection.
As Inspired by Ray Bradbury…
For my fiction writing, the fight continues and I have four resolves as inspired by Ray Bradbury’s ZEN IN THE ART OF WRITING:
1. Contentment (as opposed to desperation!)
None of us wants to be desperate so it can be a funky thing to own up to. But I feel like every one of us is desperate from time to time, because that’s what happens when you care wildly about something. I’ve been desperate to make fiction writing work. Too bad that doesn’t work!
“That’s the great secret of creativity. You treat ideas like cats: you make them follow you.”
2. Bravery of the pen
I have things to write about that I’m scared to. Messy things. Inconvenient things. I’m going to face that this year in my fiction.
“What are the best things and the worst things in your life, and when are you going to get around to whispering or shouting them?”
3. Joyous disintegration
Last year, I needed to amp up my writing discipline and wrote a lot about productivity, but this year I’m going to reprioritize joy and passion when writing my first drafts–or disintegration as Bradbury puts it!–while not letting go of any of that discipline. I’m requiring myself to draft in this state for at least one hour a day, six days a week:
“This afternoon, burn down the house. Tomorrow, pour critical water upon the simmering coals. Time enough to think and cut and rewrite tomorrow. But today-explode-fly-apart-disintegrate! The other six or seven drafts are going to be pure torture. So why not enjoy the first draft, in the hope that your joy will seek and find others in the world who, by reading your story, will catch fire, too?”
I used to read and write poetry a lot, and it made me happy!! Why do we let those things go which make us happy?!
“Read poetry every day of your life. Poetry is good because it flexes muscles you don’t use often enough. Poetry expands the senses and keeps them in prime condition. It keeps you aware of your nose, your eye, your ear, your tongue, your hand.
And, above all, poetry is compacted metaphor or simile. Such metaphors, like Japanese paper flowers, may expand outward into gigantic shapes. Ideas lie everywhere through the poetry books, yet how rarely have I heard short story teachers recommending them for browsing.
What poetry? Any poetry that makes your hair stand up along your arms.”
I’m looking forward to new writing adventures this year. Happy new year!