I've never been one to make new years resolutions. They've always felt arbitrary and pointless - their timing probably contributes to most of that. Why do we wait for this one specific day to make change? Or, at least, to resolve to make change.
Goals, however, I like.
Especially ones that are in some way measurable, ones that are specific enough that they don't allow any wiggle room. Next year is going to be a significant year for me. I'll be finalising my dual citizenship and not long after that taking my shiny new EU passport overseas. I'll be moving halfway across the world, thousands of miles away from everything that is familiar and comfortable and easy. I'll be stepping far outside my comfort zone, a concept that is simultaneously terrifying and thrilling. Seems as good a time as any to set myself some goals that also push me outside that comfort zone.
As any good goal-setter knows, writing yourself a list and tacking it to your wall is one thing. Publicly announcing said goals is a whole other kettle of fish. Hence, I wasn't sure I wanted to actually publish this. I mean, what if I fail miserably and achieve nothing next year? What if all my abstract non-concrete plans disintegrate around me and I find myself slinking home with my theoretical tail between me legs?
Sylvia Plath said the worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt, so I guess it's all fodder for the work, right?
In that, somewhat, optimistic spirit, on this the last day in 2014, I'm going to list a couple of my writerly goals for 2015.
- Finish my tbr pile before I leave for London: there are probably about twenty physical books to be read before I hop that plane for Europe. Maybe it's about tying up loose ends, I'm not sure but this feels like a really important thing to do. It's doable - I'm sure.
- Work on some strategies for organising my work: that is organising my completed work, in progress work and random snippets of thoughts and ideas into a system that at least looks tidy from the outside. (Open to ideas and suggestions from far more organised folk than me!)
- Experiment more with form: lyrical essays, the merging of creative narrative and journalism, poetry, micro and flash fiction. If you're going to push yourself, push yourself as far as you can, right? There are so many styles and genres that I feel I've yet to fully explore. And considering my impending adventure, it feels like exactly the right time to do it.
- Submit my work to journals/magazines/sites: if a writer writes and no-one sees their words, are they still a writer? Maybe. For me, part of the joy of writing is sharing it with others and to do that I need to put my work into the world. I need to open my work, and myself, up to critique and questioning and criticism. And that is a scary proposition. Rejection is a real, and sometimes horrible, thing. But rejection is countered by just one person, just one, telling you they liked or loved or understood or appreciated what you wrote.
I published my first piece outside of this blog only a few short weeks ago (this on the idea of two literary families in light of my soon-to-be dual citizenship for Writers Bloc, in case you were wondering) and there is no doubt there is some connection between that moment and my growing feeling that I'm ready to be more open with my work. In an email to a good friend a few weeks ago I wrote about how the publication of that piece felt like a thumbs up from the universe; like fate giving me a not-so-subtle shove towards my future.
As real as rejection is, doubt is much more tangible (in that way something completely intangible can be tangible) for me. But the only way to counter that doubt is by pushing my work into the world. I guess I'm starting that not only with the Writers Bloc piece but also with pushing these goals into the world.
I have more writerly goals than those listed above, but I'm going to keep those to myself. Sometimes it's good to keep a little something under wraps, close to your skin and secret from the big, bad world.
So here's to a new year, to reading that tbr pile, getting organised, experimenting and pushing back against the self-doubt. Here's to 2015.