New Year resolutions? Humbug!
We all know they’re as pointless as Rudolph’s antlers. (Reindeer shed their antlers by Christmas.) But it’s the time of year when resolution fever hits. After indulging ourselves frantically throughout December, suddenly we resolve to change ourselves and impose the deadline of January 1st.
So this year before settling on any resolutions, I sat down and made a list of the ‘pro’s and ‘con’s of this weird winter ritual:
1) As I slouch with a Baileys in one hand and a Thorntons chocolate Santa in the other, I can feel guilt-free, content in the certain knowledge that I shall start the diet on Jan 1st.
2) Just the word ‘New’ – as in New Year resolution – gets me energised, makes me want to DO things. Wipe the slate clean. Make a fresh start.
3) For even a day or two I shall enjoy that giddy feeling of being on the Moral High Ground.
4) I am warmed by the belief that not only will the New Year be better, but that I will be better too.
1) They’re a stupid waste of time because no one sticks to them.
2) They’re a stupid waste of time because no one sticks to them.
3) They’re a stupid waste of time because no one sticks to them.
4) They’re a really stupid waste of time because absolutely no one sticks to them.
Okay, so are they a waste of time? Of course not. They are part of the extraordinary optimism that is hard-wired into the human psyche, the triumph of hope over experience. And I love that. We can – and we will – improve ourselves, even if we need the January 1st ritual to make it happen. It’s the deadline factor. A bit like writing really.
Writers will wait until a deadline is about to loom on the horizon and then start to panic. Don’t get me wrong. Having a deadline is a wonderful thing. It means that a publisher or editor is ready and eager to read your latest work. The problem comes from the fact that, to start with anyway, deadlines are a long way off. Until one day, you find that time has done its usual disappearing act, and you still have 20,000 words to write and only a morning to write them in.
So this coming year I shall resolve to get ahead with my writing. I will really stick to my word-count target each week and then I’ll complete my manuscript early. Time to sit and enjoy the garden. To visit friends and family. To relax. Only that’s not going to happen, is it? Like everybody else, I will fall off that moral high ground. As nights grow shorter and days grow warmer, other activities will tempt me away from my desk. For even writers are human.
Over the years I’ve made lots of resolutions – to give up my sudoku addiction or to trim my cat’s claws more often (you should see my sofa!). At the time they all seemed achievable. But now I think we should try making resolutions at a different time of year. After all, it’s very easy to think about giving up cakes or chocolate or alcohol when you’ve spent the last ten days doing nothing but eat and drink and be merry.
So that’s my resolution for 2008 – I’m not going to make any until the end of June (by which time I’ll probably decide to leave it until Christmas, like everybody else).