The picture is of the palm of my hand – I was so focused on getting the shot right that I hadn’t realized I was covering the lens. I was going to delete the photo, but the more I looked at it, the more fitting it seemed for a blog post about New Year’s Day, a fresh start, a blank page.
I tend to project upon the New Year regrets from the previous one disguised as expectations and goals. Last night, binge-watching The Good Fight (season 1) on television, it occurred to me that here I was about to start a new year the same old way. Making a point to go out on the balcony with a glass of wine ended up being just me in among the dark balconies on my side of the building. Nevertheless, I saw splashes of fireworks, heard people banging pots, and delighted in the voices around me shouting “Happy New Year!”
Coming back into my living room, shutting out the crisp cold air of January 1, 2018, I realized I wasn’t being quite truthful with myself. I wasn’t starting a new year the same old way. Since the beginning of November, I’ve been obsessing about my scheduled cataract surgery in mid-December. All the what-ifs…you know that story. While everything turned out fine, it was enough of a life event to inspire me to make some meaningful new year resolutions.
Earlier last week, I sat down at my writing desk and fleshed out several working titles, one each for the next five years. I’ve never had writing goals before; never envisioned a novel, never mind a novel plural. But recent events, combined with a milestone birthday, crystallized a few vague wishes into specific personal goals.
In the past, my writing process has never been planned – I’ve always thought writing should be spontaneous rather than scheduled. Now I’m not sure. The things I thought would douse the writing flame such as outlines, a scheduled time for writing, and self-imposed deadlines are actually tools one needs to develop the habit of writing and to overcome the natural fear of the blank page.
In 2018, I refuse to wage war with the blank page – no more fear, no more excuses, no more endless searching for the perfect word. It’s time to devise a new plan of attack, one that makes room for new visions. Because it’s not the same old story.