Thursday, January 21, 2010

What I talk about when I talk about my attitude for the new year

I started writing this post on the first day of the new year and the new decade. Sitting in a quiet and empty house after two weeks of family festivities, I found myself with the desire to set up resolutions as well as a reluctance. Visits to other blogs and casual conversations showed me that I was not alone. The aversion to making resolutions is due in large part to how often they cannot be kept. Yet something about a passing of a time pauses us, causing us to reflect, and urges us to do something about what the introspection reveals.

So I thought, and wrote, and deleted, and wondered, and thought more, then read some blogs, and wondered more.

Now here I am, toward the end of January, and still have not corralled my thoughts into a meaningful whole. What is a writer to do?

Read, of course.

My brother-in-law loaned me a book by
novelist Haruki Murakami: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running when he visited over the holidays. (Here's an interesting interview at The Salon.) Murakami, an avid runner who runs at least a marathon a year, recorded his thoughts on running in this book. Being a novelist as well, he's included his experiences on writing as well.

Having been as far away from a runner as a person with healthy legs can be, I would not have picked up this book. Yet it is here that I found a passage that helped me deal with my dilemma.

Here he is, talking about how he started with this book:
It's been some ten years since I first had the idea of a book about running, but the years went by with me trying out one approach after another, never actually settling down to write it. Running is sort of a vague theme to begin with, and I found it hard to figure out exactly what I should say about it.
At a certain point, though, I decided that I should just write honestly about what I think and feel about running and stick to my own style.
One thing I noticed was that writing honestly about running and writing honestly about myself are nearly the same thing.

No need to strive for pithy sayings that capture universal truths; no need to shed light on Life; no need to encompass everything I feel. Just write honestly.

Over the next few weeks, i will be posting thoughts about my 2009 and hopes about 2010, maybe throw in a few more Murakami quotes and see where I end up. I hope you'll chime in and let me know how your year is going.


Corey Schwartz said...

I find it hard to write resolutions too. But the one thing I have learned (mostly through self-help type courses) is that goals should be specific and measurable. It is not good to say "I will work out." one needs to say, I will go to the gym a minimum of twice a week for at least 45 minutes."

I am still debating about whether or not I want to commit to that. Maybe when the weather gets warmer :)

Yat-Yee said...

Yes, I have heard that as well. The problem with me is that I will take forever to deliberate on the details and end up not doing anything.

This year though, I have two specific goals: get my black belt in TKD and run (not run/walk) a 5k race. Each one has its difficulties, but also smaller steps, as you mentioned, that will take me there.

storyqueen said...

Writing honestly.

I like that.

A lot.


MG Higgins said...

Thank you for that quote. It really strikes home. Looking forward to your coming posts!

tanita davis said...

No need to strive for pithy sayings that capture universal truths; no need to shed light on Life; no need to encompass everything I feel. Just write honestly.

That's a whole lot bigger of a decision than it sounds.

Our backgrounds and how we were raised just ...come into our heads and take over sometimes. Honesty is difficult - sometimes you don't even know you're not being honest until the text just doesn't work somehow. It's a struggle every time you sit down to write, but it's well worth the results.

Yat-Yee said...

Tanita: you're so right. Writing honestly can be the most difficult thing a writer can do, when it comes to the decision of whether to dig deep and be authentic, or to cover up what is uncomfortable to explore.

When it comes to starting at a superficial level and trying to make words sound sophisticated or profound: that's just silly and pretentious. :) And yes, I have succumbed to that more times than I am willing to admit!

lotusgirl said...

I identify a lot with the concept of writing honestly. I wish I did it better. It's what I'm working on. I get closer when I write literary than when I do YA things. Maybe there's a message in there for me somewhere.

Nandini said...

I love that: Write honestly. I'm having a hard time getting started on my new wip, maybe keeping this advice in mind will help. And running, maybe!