12 January 2011


I always like to start the year with about ten resolutions, knowing I have about a 30% retention rate. Already, I can see a few clear winners and losers, and at least one I shouldn't have attempted in the first place. Not necessarily in this order:

1. Revise at least one of my novels and send it to my agent. Slowly, carefully, sometimes painfully, I'm making this happen. This weekend, I'm going away on a mini writing retreat with a good friend of mine, and hope to make some serious revision headway. More on my progress (and my revision process in general) next week.

2. Exercise every day. This one's easy; per my physical therapist, I HAVE to do a series of specific exercises every day, to keep my arm and shoulder limber. Beyond that, I actually enjoy the treadmill; it's one of those places, like the shower, where I let my mind go. That's when the best ideas happen. Recently, I had a client who needed some ideas for a new title for her novel. I hopped on the treadmill and had 4 or 5 ready to go. (Mind you, they weren't GREAT titles, but they were a good jumping-off point for further brainstorming.)

3. Be up by 8:30 each morning and in bed by 11pm each night. This is a tall order. So far, I'm mastering the "in bed by 11pm" part pretty well. Not so much for the "up by 8:30" part. Maybe I'm just not meant to be an early bird; sometimes, we just have to accept who we are (and aren't).

4. Drink more water and less coffee. I don't know what I was thinking. Have I even met me? I can't even quit the decaf.

5. Travel. Fact: I have not been on a vacation longer than a long weekend since the summer of 2000. That includes my honeymoon. It's clear I really need to get away more than I usually do, and experience some new points of view. Where should I go this year? Any ideas?

6. Eat more healthily and locally. Farmers markets. Thoughtful shopping lists. Local dairy with delivery service. More grains and legumes and fruits and vegetables, less sugar and fried food, no red meat or fast food or HFCS. I can do this. And now that my arm is feeling a little more mobile, I actually feel like cooking again. Last weekend, I cleaned and re-organized my pantry, which sounds pretty mundane, but was an extraordinarily satisfying experience. It was also when I came across the petrified gummy bear pictured above. Bye-bye, little ursine sugar-blob!

7. Entertain more often. If you know me, you know I love a party. And yet, we rarely entertain at our house. Why is this, when there is so much in life to celebrate?

8. Live more simply and frugally. An ugly secret: we maintain a collection of disorganized, unused stuff in our basement and on our second-floor landing. Some of it is still in boxes from when we moved in! Finally, I think we're ready to face our surplus, and let go of most of it. I can't wait to turn those over-stuffed areas into usable space. And I'm looking forward to living a more unencumbered life.

9. Read more, watch less TV. This may seem like a no-brainer, but really, there's just SO MUCH brilliant storytelling on television. Don't believe me? Watch the last season of Dexter, or Men of a Certain Age, or Damages, or Nurse Jackie, or Friday Night Lights, or Mad Men. And then there are my own personal faves, the true crime/forensics shows, like Most Evil and City Confidential and Forensic Files and Cold Blood, or the recent stunner The Will: Family Secrets Revealed. See what I mean? It's a wonder I get anything done! Thankfully, I bought myself a nice, big, juicy stack of books for Christmas, and I maintain a running list of "must-read" titles — which is now a good deal longer, thanks to this week's ALA Youth Media Awards announcements. But having great books on-hand is only half the battle. The other half is gifting myself with time for pleasure reading. In general, I'm going to try to be more generous with myself this year.

10. Keep writing. Believe me, I'm workin' on it.

Have you made any resolutions this year? How are you doing with them so far?


  1. Kara,
    These are such great resolutions! I can relate to all of 'em. (Except for the limiting coffee...don't want to. But #4 made me laugh out loud, truly, with the "have I even met me?")

    Good luck with your novel. It's shocking to me how slow the process can be. (It takes what it takes, I think.) We met (and I don't expect you to remember, of course) way back at Vermont College when you and Kate gave your hilarious/brilliant talk. I thought I'd have a novel ready for an agent when I graduated--in 2006. Yeah, that didn't happen, which was fine. But it still hasn't, despite lots of hard work. Hopefully, hopefully my current wip is finally getting close for that querying. (And here comes the rejection! Yeah, I read ahead...)

    I also can especially relate to your entertain more goal. I'm a very social person but, for some reason, we don't have people over. Like, ever. I can get into perfectionism and whatnot, and I just need to get over that and invite some friends over. I mean, they're friends. It's going to be okay.

    The fact that you haven't been away for more than a long weekend since 2000 probably isn't good. (Not that I judge...) But everyone needs time away. Where do you want to go? I think you should go there.

    Finally, boy, do I struggle with the exercise. When you use your treadmill, do you have the TV on or any music? Or is it just you with your thoughts. (This reminds me of the time I listened to audiobooks when I walked...that was pleasant. Wonder why I stopped that?) Of course, I'm asking because I'm looking for the easy, right, one answer. Sigh. Maybe I should resolve not to do that. :-)

    As for my own resolutions, I chose a word for 2011: release (in all areas, including that wip...) and have been thinking generally about what I want to do, but not specifically. Mulling.

    Happy new year! I love a clean slate.

  2. And, boy, that's a LONG comment. Sorry!

  3. For a long vacation--if you can, I'd suggest Ireland. Seriously. Lovely countryside, friendly people, relaxed atmosphere. Great for biking and long walks, if you like that. Or, if you'd like something closer to home, but foreign, why not explore Quebec--a few days in Quebec City, a few in Montreal.

    My new year's resolutions included spending more time taking care of my body. I was careful not to say everyday, but so far, so good. I "biked" six miles yesterday and had a massage today. Weather permitting, yoga is on the schedule tomorrow.

  4. Kellye,

    I love long (and thoughtful) comments! Keep 'em comin'.

    We've gone through quite a bit of renovation on our house over the past 6+ years, but I still can't help seeing it as the sh*tbox it was when we moved in. Maybe that's where my fear of entertaining comes from.

    As for exercise, I do listen to music — I have a set list of tunes that particularly inspire me, but I find I can easily tune them OUT when I want to think.

    Ah...release. A great word. Good for all occasions!

    -K : )

    P.S. Next week, I'll be blogging about my own WIP woes. Clearly, we all have them!

  5. Kath,

    Ireland is a great suggestion. My husband and I are thinking Italy. Also, I'd really like to get out to the west coast. So many possibilities!

    Ah, yoga. I used to be a huge fan of yoga and pilates. Unfortunately, I can't do them anymore, because I can't raise my arm past a certain point, which makes most of the positions impossible for me. But I'm with you on taking care of our bodies — we only get one, after all!

    -K : )

  6. Thanks for your response, Kara. Ireland and Italy both sound lovely. I've been wanting to go to Italy for a long time. I hope you and your hubs can get away for some nice R&R this year. My guy and I are the WORST about planning vacations. Generally, by the time I start researching the places we want to go, they're all booked. That's a problem.

    Thanks for the info on your walking. I know what you mean about tuning out the music. Back when I wrote magazine articles, I couldn't listen to music. When I write YA, I often crank the music--all kinds--and sometimes I even sing along. But the weird thing is, sometimes I look at my playlist and see that I'm several songs down and never heard them. :-)

    Kath: Great goals, and I love that you didn't say "every day."

    Kara, can't wait to read your next post!

    Take care,

  7. The treadmill has delivered the best (and wiggiest) suggestions to date:-)

    As for travel: come to California and visit me! Or, for something a bit more exotic, visit California as it might have looked like in 1880 by heading pretty much anywhere along Argentina's unspoiled coastline, then stopover in Buenos Aires. I consider it Italy for the budget traveler!

  8. @kellye: When I write, I can only listen to classical music. I get distracted by lyrics and anything too percussive.

    @kristen: I just might take you up on that invite. Sooner or later, we have to "wig out" in person.

    -K : )