*The American Heritage Dictionary 1980
Or is it Re-so-lu-tion n. 1. The act of responding to a deficiency, again.**
**LeeAnn Rhoden 2013
The year is ending and a new one is about to begin. And with each turn of the annual calendar, many of us make New Year’s Resolutions. You know, “This year I’m going to work out four times a week,” or “I’m going to home cook all my meals and eat healthier,” or “I’m going to watch less TV and read more.” Uh huh, right. We may start out with good intentions and go like gang-busters throughout the months of January and February and possibly into March but then…
Then comes the warm weather and the kids are out of school, you go on vacation, it’s time to do yard work again, house guests come, you still have to get to your job, bills need to be paid, vet appointments, doctors’ appointments, that surprise maintenance item hits on the house or car or both, football season, autumn and outside winterizing, and with each thing that comes up it becomes easier to put off that trip to the gym, order that pizza, and flop on the couch with the remote control at the end of a busy day. Suddenly it is Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and we arrive right back where we started and what do we do? We make resolutions! Yes! “This year I’m going to work out four times a week, I’m going to home cook all my meals and eat healthier, and I’m going to watch less TV and read more.”
I don’t make resolutions. Why on earth would I tell myself how inadequate I am and that I need to change, sorry, improve? I have enough outside people telling me that. Doctor: “You should lose weight and eat better. It will be good for your blood pressure and cholesterol.” Mother: “You should get your hair done and get some new clothes.” Husband: “Honey, did you have a chance to do the laundry?” Little Man: “Mommy, poop.” Dogs: “Kibble again?” And really, aren’t the resolutions we make for ourselves the very things that fulfill the way others want to change us? I mean sure I’d like to lose weight but I don’t see how going to a gym is going to help me do this anymore aerobic housekeeping is. And I already cook pretty healthily. I guess I could go vegan or eat raw but, yuck. As far as reading more and watching less TV, perhaps. Will any of these things make me happier?
The last resolution I made was some fifteen years ago. I resolved to get organized. It worked! I had a place for everything and everything was in its place. I lived out of a day planner (still do not that it means anything). I would not go to bed until everything on my list was done. I had a laundry day, a shopping day, an errand day, a cleaning day. It was great! I love structure! And while I was single I could keep my life organized and scheduled down to the minute. I’m married now to a spontaneous type of guy. “Hey, let’s run over to the big-box hardware store,” he casually says. Inside I turn to ice and go immediately to my day book. Is it errand day? Did I forget to put something on my list? Can I squeeze in an impromptu trip? What will have to get bumped? How long will we be gone? What if this leads to another trip? And let’s not forget the Little Man who has his own schedule and agenda. And everything has a place but nothing is ever in it. Chaos! Am I happier? Absolutely.
For me, resolutions rarely work. A leopard cannot change its spots any more than I’m going to eat raw food. Personally, I think the best resolution you can make is to know yourself and to accept yourself for who you are.
So, what does all this have to do with writing? When writing our characters, we should take the time to get to know them. What is their backstory? Who are they? What do they believe? What do they think about themselves? Politics? Favorite flavor of ice cream? How do others view your character? Does your character accept himself/herself or does he want to change? And is it merely a want to change or an actual resolution to change. How does that work out for him? Interview your character. Write his biography. The more you, as an author, know about your character the better your writing will be. Remember, they are real people too with all the same quirks, idiosyncrasies, insecurities, and desires to be happy as we have.
So, Happy New Year and happy writing!!