“I begin to realise how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. He taught me that if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good, either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.”
Roald Dahl, My Uncle Oswald
found on the I Love Libraries Facebook page
I no longer make New Year’s Resolutions. Everyone knows resolutions are made to be broken. I do make goals. But I do that throughout the year, so I can’t even call them New Year’s goals. I have. I’ve set yearly goals. But then I don’t go back and remind myself if I’ve met them or not, so why bother? I know I try throughout the year; I try to work toward the things I want. I work hard. I don’t give up even when I feel like it, when it feels like it makes more sense to give up. I don’t. My goals aren’t just resolutions to begin the year to say I have them. They’re deeper than that.
I try hard. I keep getting up when I fail, and I keep going. What more can you truly ask of yourself?
I think the point of a goal, anyway, is in the journey it takes to get there, or to try to get there. It’s the journey that matters. What you learn on the journey is more important than the end result. Or it should be.
So, no resolutions here. No list of goals. I’ll keep trying, keep working on what I truly want with that white hot passion, and I’ll revel in those glorious moments where it feels like it’s not worth giving up. I’ll acknowledge the low times. They will be there. They need to be there. The high times can’t matter much without the low.
I ended the year, the last work day of 2011, with a high. It was a small high: a scene that came out beautiful and important and satisfying. Most days a writer can at the best, expect decent prose, a decent amount of work per day, and some nice scenes that are at least satisfactory. But when a writer has a scene truly live and breath with the knowledge it will be a highlight of a book, that is a real high. I love those days. If I can get one of those scenes, even if it’s only 2-3 paragraphs long, I feel I’ve accomplished so much more even than when I get ten or more pages done in a day.
It’s not the reminder of “hey, I can do this” as much as it is the knowledge of what it takes to occasionally get those scenes. They aren’t spontaneous out of nowhere. They come only after months and months of continual work, of focusing on the craft, of trying to improve it, of the “doing” the work. It’s a bonus. No check amount at the end of the year could compare to that feeling: the feeling of knowing you’re striving for quality and now and then – just often enough – you actually hit that elusive quality you wish for. It’s the knowledge that it will come again, if the hard work, the pushing, the striving continue. It will come. More often.
That’s what I wish for all of you this coming year: that feeling. And the work it takes to get there, in whatever field you’re in. Every field has it. Anything you do, anything you decide to put your white hot passion into, can lead to that feeling.
Go for it. Grab onto it. Whatever it is you most need, go after it. It will come.