It’s that time of year when everyone is making their new year’s resolutions. 2016 has taken a bow, and 2017 is still pristine, untarnished, and full of hope and possibilities. Writers often make goals that involve marketing plans, sales, number of books written, and new contracts. While those are worthy goals, I find myself in a different place in my life as I write this post. It was a good year for my writing career, but tougher in the personal arena. I want to do better in 2017 as a person to whom God gave the gift of creativity and as a human being who recognizes I’m not the only one fighting battles. I feel funny putting these in writing, but that is the first step in any action plan:
- I’ll strive to be kinder and less cranky.
Pretty simple, right? Hah. My worst failing in 2016 was my inability to rise above the challenges and frustrations that came with battling cancer beginning with the diagnosis on January 8. I often allowed my frustration at long wait times and bad news to show on my face and in my voice as I dealt with healthcare providers who do their best day after day against a disease with overwhelmingly bad odds. My goal for 2017 is to be patient, to be supportive of the cancer fighters around me, and to show my appreciation for the hard work of my health care providers—no matter how long I wait or who forgets to check me in or what folder gets lost or what lab result still isn’t available or what chemo drug is still being mixed in the pharmacy two hours later. My treatment is working. I should be singing and dancing, not slouching and grousing.
- I’ll live more in this moment and less in the land of what-if. This goes hand in hand with number 6. If I weren’t so busy being worrying, I wouldn’t be so cranky.
One of the most difficult challenges I’ve faced since back-to-back diagnoses of primary lateral sclerosis (PLS) and ovarian cancer is to live in the here and now and not worry about tomorrow or the next day. I rehearse scenarios in my head. I carry on imaginary conversations with doctors about the next leg of this journey—long before it is here or real. I’ve spent precious moments during this time of being NED (no evidence of disease) imagining what it will be like when the CT scan shows new masses. I’ve been told that will happen, eventually, but it’s not today. And today I feel good. So let that be where my mind and my heart linger.
- I’ll read more poetry and fewer tweets.
My interest in Twitter started as marketing for my books, but now I simply enjoy it. I follow all the media outlets and get my news from their posts. I follow my favorite actors and writers. I follow all the healthcare organizations across the country who are doing cancer research and posting links to their latest findings. I find myself grabbing the phone to scroll through their tweets while I eat my breakfast, during commercial breaks on TV, in waiting rooms, while I do my stretches. It’s become a habit for filling time. I used to use that time to think, to daydream, to wonder. Being connected to the world isn’t a bad thing. Using it to disconnect from your own thoughts, your own dreams, is. Especially for a writer.
Why poetry? Poetry feeds that creative thought. It fills me up with new words, new ways of putting old words together. It encourages me to write. It reminds me of how beautiful and intricate our language is and how it can be used to spur independent thought. Sometimes it simply makes a gray day brilliant again. We could all use more of that elixir.
- I’ll read more good books and watch less bad TV
Some TV programs are compelling, well-written, well-acted, and full of thought-provoking story. Others are simply drivel. We have a few hundred channels from which to choose and nothing “good” is on so we settle for the drivel rather than turning it off. My goal is to turn it off. The public library is full of books I’ve yet to read. Reading feeds my writing. TV does not.
- I’ll pray more for others and less for myself.
I remind myself that God is not a celestial Santa Claus, making a list, checking it twice, and waiting for me to sit on his lap and tell Him what I want Him to do for me. As someone wise once said, “It’s not always about you.” I would like to be less self-centered in my conversations with God in 2017.
- I’ll daydream more.
My number one goal for 2017 is to regain that childlike ability to pretend, to imagine, to daydream. For
writers, that’s where the magic is. Lying in the grass, soaking up at the sky, and watching the clouds go by. Staring out the window as the window blows the leaves from the trees. Imagining I’m somewhere far away on an adventure. I want that childlike wonder back. That’s what writing is all about. Making up stories so real in your imagination that you can’t believe they didn’t really happen. Pretend is a muscle that has to be exercised. I plan to exercise a lot in 2017.
“The imagination is man’s power over nature.” –Wallace Stevens
Plan to use yours for good in 2017!
Here’s wishing each one of you a blessed 2017! What are your goals for the new year? Feel free to share in the comments!