A Blank Book

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal

Happy New Year, everybody! Hope 2009 is treating you fine so far and that it will be a year packed full of good things and great joy.

We are four days into the year. Have you broken any of your New Year’s resolutions yet? I sent out my occasional newsletter yesterday. (If you’d like to be on my list to get my five or six newsletters a year, you can sign up by clicking on Ann’s newsletter on the homepage of my website.) Anyway, in the newsletter I say I like coming up with goals at the beginning of a year, but I don’t do the resolution thing as well. Perhaps because I’ve always broken most of the resolutions I’ve made way before I should. A resolution makes me think “You can’t do this anymore” like eat yummy desserts or play a computer game of solitaire when I should be writing. On the other hand, a goal makes me think “You can do this.” I can write a better book. I can have it finished by deadline time. I can laugh at least once a day. I can read more books.

That’s one of my goals this year – to read more. As I said in my newsletter, a writer needs to read. Reading feeds a writer’s writing engine. Trouble is, a writer who wants to set her characters back in a historical time needs to do a lot of research. I like reading history, but I also want to read more books solely for pleasure, to stir up my own creative juices by reading others’ words. Sometimes I wish I could somehow just absorb the historical information I need. Actually that’s sort of what has to happen so I can realistically write about a historical event. I have to put myself in the history with my characters and feel the wind and hear the thunder of the storms they are experiencing. That’s why I like reading diaries and letters of people who lived in whatever time period I’m researching. The letter writers might not have every fact of history right, but they know how the wind feels on their faces.

Many of my goals have to do with my writing. Most of my writing life I haven’t written to deadlines other than the ones I’ve set for myself. To get this or that story done by some arbitrary time I have decided on. It always helped to keep me focused on working to the end of my story even though I rarely finished my story as quickly as I hoped I would. Then last year I had a real deadline for a contracted book and learned I could keep my nose to the grindstone and force out so many pages each and every time I sat down at the computer. I love to write but at the same time it’s often very difficult to make my fingers start poking the keyboard and pulling the words out of my head. It’s easier to research one more fact, sharpen a dozen pencils, answer a few e-mails, steep another cup of tea, anything except digging out a new scene. I have another deadline not all that many months away, so I’m going to have to set some new goals and be disciplined at my work again.

I hope you are busy setting goals for the coming year. I think it helps to write them down, but of course, I’m a journal writer and that’s what journal writers do. Set things down on paper. Dreams and goals. Good times and bad. In case you are in the goal setting or resolution making mode, here are some quotations you might enjoy.

  • You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. – Les Brown
  • Man is a goal seeking animal. His life only has meaning if he is reaching out and striving for his goals. – Aristotle
  • May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions! – Joey Adams (It appears Mr. Adams has my opinion of resolutions.)
  • Making resolutions is a cleansing ritual of self assessment and repentance that demands personal honesty and, ultimately, reinforces humility. Breaking them is part of the cycle. -Eric Zorn
  • We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.– Edith Lovejoy Pierce

That last one is my favorite. A blank book. Now all I have to do is fill up the pages and take advantage of the opportunities that await me.

A couple of opportunites are coming up next week as I’m going to be talking to two bookclubs. One in New York and the other in Kentucky. I love bookclubs. Anybody who enjoys reading enough to join a club to talk about books has to be my kind of person.
Hope all of you set goals that will make your life better and that with the Lord’s help you move toward those goals. As Paul says in Philippians 3:14 (Br. Fred preached on this passage today) “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” May we all press toward the mark.