Are You Resolved?
Posted by Vivi Andrews Jan 5 2011, 12:01 am in determination, goals, resolutions
As I’ve confessed here before, I’m in love with goals. So you’d think I’d be all about the New Year’s Resolutions, right? Not so much. I’ve never put much stock in ‘em because the fact of the matter is they just don’t seem to last. Those yearly Resolutions aren’t very resolute – more like flimsy wishes, unsupported by genuine dedication. By mid-January real life has intruded and we’ve all forgotten about the frantic burst of New Year energy that had us going to the gym every day, eating right and writing three thousand words a day.
Instead of grandiose resolutions, what we really need to accomplish our writing goals in the new year is a firm sense of resolve.
re·solve /rɪˈzɒlv/ –verb (used with object) to come to a definite or earnest decision about; determine (to do something)
I’ve been writing more or less constantly since I was thirteen. By the time I was twenty, I’d pretty much figured out I wanted a career as a published author. Now ask me when I resolved to make it happen. It took seven more years. During that time I wrote every day, I set deadlines for myself, I queried and researched, but I wasn’t firm. No earnestness to my decision. I wasn’t dedicated. I was, to use a term that particularly resonated with me at an Allison Brennan workshop, a hobbyist.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a hobbyist. Just because knitting is “only” a beloved hobby doesn’t mean you won’t produce gorgeous sweaters and possibly even profit richly from your talents. But my ultimate desire wasn’t to be a brilliant hobbyist writer. I wanted to be a pro, to make a living from my books. And the first step toward that, for me, was resolve.
There are certain moments of resolve that stand out in my memory. When I was seventeen my best friend and I talked often about backpacking through Europe after our senior year, but it wasn’t until one afternoon at a coffee house, with our textbooks scattered around us that we said, “Let’s do it.” And resolved to make it happen. There was work between the resolve and our amazing trip (after school jobs and logistics and arguments over whether or not we could squeeze in Ireland), but from that moment on we knew it was going to happen. We would make sure of that. (Even after I got mono a week before we were set to fly…)
You know Project Runway? Where Tim Gunn is always saying “Make it work” – well I think the people who can rise up and make it work under those intense conditions are the ones with resolve. The ones who have determined to achieve their dreams and if they don’t make it through Project Runway or Top Chef or Reality Show X then they will make it some other way, but we won’t hear that last of them. I think resolve, as much as talent, dictates success.
I found my writing resolve one afternoon in May of 2007. I have no idea what was different about that day. (I would definitely tell you if I did.) Driving up the hill to my house, I told myself that I was going to make it happen, and on that day, for the first time, I really meant it. It wasn’t “gee wouldn’t it be nice to be published!” It was fierce, unswerving determination. Resolve firmed my goals, gave them shape and heft. Getting published became a task, rather than a dream.
Nothing really had changed, but suddenly my writing was leaping forward. I joined RWA, signed up for my first conference, bought books on the Biz and delved into research about how to get published – not just how to submit a book I’d written, but how to do it right.
At my very first pitch, when my resolve was still new, the editor asked me what I wanted from my writing. I was so green I probably left grass stains on the chair, but I told her I was going to make a living from my books. She sort of laughed and I could practically hear her thinking Don’t quit your day job, honey before she said, “That’s what everyone wants, isn’t it?” And I just smiled, because I knew I had an advantage over “everyone” – my determination. I was going to make it happen.
No one could give me that resolve. I had to find it inside myself, but once I did, my resolutions shaped up and held on well past mid-January. It’s still there, the knot of determination that drives me.
So what about you? Are you resolved? Do you remember the moment you found your resolve? How are you putting that resolution into action? Do you draw a distinction between hobbyists and the resolved? Or do you find the attitude toward writing a far less important consideration on the path to publication than the skill of the writer?