One of my favorite scenes in one of my favorite books (Betsy in Spite of Herself by Maud Hart Lovelace) is when Betsy and her friend Tib stay up all night on New Year’s Eve (to ring in 1908) making resolutions to be different. Betsy wants to become Dramatic and Mysterious, and thus compounds a list of things such as “Start signing your name Betsye” and “Don’t laugh so much” and “Use only Jockey Club perfume… be lavish with it.”
As Betsy (Betsye!) says:
“Jockey Club is perfect!” Betsy doused her flannel night gown rapturously. “And Tib, I’ve read that women of the kind I’m going to be always match their eyes in clothes and jewels. So I’m going to start wearing green.”
“Your eyes are hazel,” Tib objected. “And blue is your best color, Betsy. Always has been.”
“Blue!” scoffed Betsy. “It’s namby pamby. And there’s lots of green in my eyes. Green for jealousy,” she cried in a thrilling voice, resuming her stroll around the room.
“Whom are you jealous of?”
“Oh, nobody! I just like the sound of it.”
Hee! It’s a wonderfully funny and sweet and painful book — because I think many of us have felt that same desperate yearning to change ourselves. I won’t give away the ending to those who haven’t read it, but (as you might expect) Betsy’s plans to be Dramatic and Mysterious don’t quite work out as she plans. I love it! Especially because once-upon-a-time I made similar resolutions, trying to change essential things about myself.
[I may even have gone through a phase myself-- long ago-- during which I signed my name Diva. To be Dramatic and Mysterious.]But! I am reasonably happy with who I am now. Not that I don’t have flaws (I do! Plenty of them!) but New Year’s Eve is (to me) more about setting defined goals that will push me in the directions I want to go with my life.
2011 was a transitional, inward-looking year for me, especially in terms of writing. I worked on something brand new and different, and I poured my heart into it. I started working with a new literary agent I adore. I tried to re-focus on what really matters to me: writing the best books I can, and making connections to other writers/readers/book-people. It was a quiet year, but rich with friends and good entertainment and delicious food and hikes and pine trees and strawberry-picking and adorable tail-wagging dogs.
That said, I have high hopes for 2012! And new things I want to push myself to try. Here are my goals:
- Write a brand new book. Do my best to make it better than anything else I’ve already written.
- If I sell my new YA romantic fantasy by spring, then go on a vacation to London and the Cotswolds in the fall.
- Get together with friends to play music, céilidh-style, at least once.
- Try at least five new soup/stew/curry or salad recipes. (I have no problem finding motivation to try new pastry recipes!)
- Invite at least two people over to dinner whom we’ve never had over before.
- Listen to an audio book or podcast on meditation.
- Bike to work at least 10 times. (I only live 5 miles from my day job! It’s shameful that I never once biked to work this year!)
- When reading, make a point to flag the passages and lines I love most, to try to analyze just why I love them, and what I can learn from them. (I have a brand new pack of Post-Its ready and waiting!)
Do you make goals or resolutions? And do you keep them?