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Posts Tagged ‘change’

As we do, I went into 2017 with plans for all kinds of improvements to my life. At work, I cleaned my desk off, and so far it’s produced mixed results. I’m less depressed to come to work, because my space is more orderly, but the cleanliness of my desk seems to invite people to make more requests of me. Perhaps because my work is not so clearly displayed, they think I don’t have enough of it?

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I re-started my home yoga practice, which is almost completely to the good. Of course there’s time for it. There was always time for it.

nyt_bestseller_010416Oh, I made the NYT Bestseller list. Which is not quite the result of any change on my part, but an outcropping of a lot of years of work and several lucky breaks. Or maybe it was all my positive thinking. (Probably not, I don’t really do much of that.)

This week, however, I found a thing that I used to think I wanted to change about myself, but now realize I don’t. When my editor and agent delivered the good news that All the Ugly and Wonderful Things was officially a bestseller, they also asked about my next project. Did I have a synopsis I could share with them?

Welllllll … I don’t really do synopses or outlines or any sort of planning when it comes to writing. I’m a complete pantser (which Autocorrect thinks should be panther.) I write lots and lots of words and after I’ve put several thousand of them together, I start to see the shape of a story. Then I write more words. Usually a lot more words. Then out of this mountain of words, I carve the story I want to tell. It’s not pretty. It’s not simple. But I realized this week that it totally works for me, and I need to stop feeling awkward or ashamed about my messy, chaotic process to creation.

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Now, I did produce a synopsis for my agent and editor to look at, but it’s just a big pile of guesses. (Shh, don’t tell.) I don’t know if that’s what will happen in the story I’m working on. I’m okay with that. I used that crazy method to produce All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, and that seems to have worked out for me.

So whatever things you may have resolved to change in 2017, remember there are plenty of things about the same old you that are worth keeping.

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January is a doomed month. Cold and miserly and strangely stunted for a month with thirty-one days. That’s not what dooms it, of course. Its downfall is that it’s destined to be a month of beginnings. Sure, we like beginnings. We glorify them as great things, but ultimately, we start so many more things than we ever finish, that it hardly matters where or when a thing starts. And when something fails, either with a whimper or a catastropher, its starting point looks a lot less glorious. That’s what taints January.

After all, up to 25% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. Something like 60% of all new restaurants fail within a year. Diets crash and burn on a near weekly basis. The new job turns into a suckfest, and the new marriage sours three years in.

I know there’s this huge pressure, both internal and external, to make big changes in the new year. This is the year you’re going to find an agent! This is the year you’re going to apply for better jobs! You’re gonna lose that weight! Sell that screenplay! Go back to school! Meet someone special! Learn Chinese!

Cat on a diving board.

Which is cool, but right now, I’m gonna offer you a reprieve. Right now, I’m saying, it’s okay not to start something new this week. Today doesn’t have to be the first day of the rest of your life. It’s okay if you don’t send out query letters today or sign up for that dating website or do PX30. I’m giving you permission to wait. I’m telling you that it’s okay to feel wobbly and unsure this week. If you’re feeling tired and overwhelmed by being back at work today, I understand. You don’t have to go off the big board into the deep end. You can just get into the pool from the steps in the shallow end. It won’t matter if you didn’t start today, as long as you finish.

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