A New Year, A New Resolve

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been the sort of person who makes New Year’s resolutions.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe it’s because, growing up, in that faraway land of the twentieth century, I witnessed so many people I knew break their resolutions by the second week of January.  The whole thing just seemed silly to me.

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I remember, as a kid, too, questioning the wisdom of the calendar.  There was one particularly snowy and blustery New Year’s Day, in Rochester, New York, when I was ten years old.  I asked my older brother, eighteen at the time, why we began a new year in the dead of winter, when the world outside was a monochrome of whites and grays, a black-and-white landscape devoid of color, absent of growth.  Shouldn’t the new year begin in the spring, when the grass turns green and the flowers bloom?

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He just looked at me, frowned, and shrugged.  It was the kind of shrug that said, “What in the world are you talking about?  Get real.” And then he proceeded to tell me his New Year’s resolution . . .

This year, though, as I continue working on the sequel to The Eye-Dancers, as I push ahead with various and sundry projects, I have decided to make a few resolutions of my own.

1.  I resolve to stop checking my Amazon sales ranking every day.  It’s a self-defeating habit for the most part, and besides, can anyone out there explain the mathematics behind the ranking?  It fluctuates wildly from day to day, sale to sale.  I am sure there are good, solid theories and algorithms behind it, but from this author’s perspective, it’s a roller-coaster ride.  (Now, if you’ll excuse me for a moment, I need to check my Amazon sales ranking . . .)

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2.  I resolve to never split another infinitive–to never do that, ever again.

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3.  I resolve to avoid all cliches in my writing.  At the end of the day, it’s originality that counts.  And you do the best you can, and let the chips fall where they may.  It is what it is.

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4.  I resolve to stop making any more New Year’s resolutions . . . evidently, they just don’t work for me.

Well–perhaps that’s not entirely true.  There may be a couple of resolutions that I can feel strongly about, that I can get behind and use as motivation as the new year dawns.

The first is–I am resolving, here and now, to do everything I can to finish the first draft of the sequel to The Eye-Dancers before the end of this calendar year.  The sequel (still untitled!) is approximately half-finished.  Much has been accomplished, but much still needs to get done.  This past year was inordinately chaotic for me, on several fronts, which, admittedly, slowed down the writing process.  But in 2015, no excuses.  I aim to complete the sequel this year and, of course, discover an appropriate title!

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But there is another resolution I want to make, and would like to appeal to everyone to join in.

The world we live in moves fast.  We are bombarded with news, headlines, videos, texts, emails, shopping lists, equipment to fix, doctors to visit, bills to pay, money to earn, responsibilities to meet.  Sometimes, it seems, we’re twisting and turning, in the eye of the storm, the wind and the rain battering, swirling, unceasing.

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In the midst of all of this, it’s easy to drift, stumble, wander along an unknown woodland path at dusk and find that, by nightfall, we’re lost, unable to find our way back home.

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And so, in 2015, at some point, hopefully far more than just once, I resolve to take a deep breath, turn everything off, and just be still.

I resolve to look up at the night sky when it’s clear–perhaps in the luxurious warmth of midsummer, amidst the hoot owls and rodents and crickets playing their fiddles from somewhere hidden, unseen in the dark; perhaps in the soft, white silence of February, my breath visible like smoke upon the air–and count the stars, ponder them, admire them, and wonder at the possibilities.

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I resolve to make time, somehow, some way, to allow that wonder to manifest itself in me.

Will you join me?

Read your favorite novel at a slow, leisurely pace.  Watch a Frank Capra classic with the smartphone turned off.  Sing a song off-key with no one watching, or with everyone watching.  Flip through an old comic book you used to enjoy when you were a kid.  Learn a new craft or hobby, not because you “should,” but because you want to.  Draw a picture.  Finish that book you’re working on (note to self!).  Write a poem.  Smile at a corny joke, or tell one.  Curl up on the sofa and watch reruns of your favorite sitcom.

sa150

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Do something fun.

Do something you love.

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I wish you all a wonderful, blessed, and creative 2015.  Let’s make it our best year yet.

2015

 

Thanks so much for reading!

Mike

Over the Rainbow . . . Into 2013

Of all the characters in The Eye-Dancers, Mitchell Brant is surely the biggest dreamer.  He imagines himself doing great things, performing prodigious feats, confronting and overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds.  Of course, when he looks in the mirror and sees himself as he really is, he often feels let down.

At one point in the novel, the narrative reads, “He looked up at the night sky again, wishing he could indeed jump through the void, catapult himself many light-years away, corral a star, and harness its energy to become the Mitchell Brant he wanted to be.”

So it often goes for the dreamers of dreams . . .

Readers of this blog have already probably figured out that I have a soft spot for vintage pop culture–old comics, old songs, old movies.  One of my favorites is The Wizard of Oz, and without question, my favorite scene is Judy Garland’s beautiful rendition of “Over the Rainbow.”   I am not alone, of course.  The song (and scene) is loved by millions, and was voted the best movie song of all time by the American Film Institute.

oz

“Over the Rainbow” captures the feelings Mitchell so often experiences.  Feelings of longing, hoping, wishing that things could be different.  Dreaming the dreams of optimism and hope, and faith.  Trying to believe there’s a better place, somewhere.  A better tomorrow.  And that all things, all goals, all dreams are possible.

“Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue,” Garland sings, the black-and-white Kansas farmland stretched out behind her, Toto ever at her side.  “And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.”  And the famous song ends:  “If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why, oh why can’t I?”

And so with that in mind, I hope we can all have a little Mitchell Brant in us as the old year comes to a close and the new year begins.  Because as Mitchell also realizes, a little later on in The Eye-Dancers:

“He looked up, at the infinite black canvas of the sky, at the stars, which shimmered like precious jewels. . . . Maybe our dreams lived up there, among those stars.  All we needed to do was believe, and remember.

And reach.”

So, I urge all of you to join me.  As 2013 arrives, let’s look up, high, reach as far as we can, and follow our dreams.  We can find them . . . somewhere over the rainbow.

Happy New Year to all.

–Mike

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