Monday, January 4, 2021

New Year, New Resolution?

A post by Mary Fan
Happy New Year, everyone! It's that time again -- the time when a bunch of people set resolutions and goals for what they're going to do between now and December 31. I've seen a lot of writers share their goals on social media. Some are aspirational targets, like achieving a certain word count per day, and some are... how do I put this... more like wishes shouted into the Internet.

You've probably seen them around. "This is the year I land an agent." "This is the year I get published." "This is the year I become a bestselling author."

I get the impulse. The myth of meritocracy has led most of us to believe that external markers of success -- usually achieving some kind of institutional approval, popularity, or monetary gain -- are all due to the efforts of the individual. It's a comforting myth, this idea that you can control your own destiny. And to some extent, helpful, since it can push you to do the things you need to in order to get what you want.

But so much is out of our control that treating these external markers as resolutions isn't always healthy. Especially in an industry as fickle as publishing, much more is up to chance than we'd like to admit. Maybe you happened to write a book in the trendiest genre, right as the genre is taking off. Maybe you happened to adopt a style adored by publishing professionals. Maybe you were assigned a phenomenal cover artist whose eye-catching design made your book stand out from a thousand others. Or maybe you didn't -- your timing was off, your tastes don't align perfectly with the industry's, your marketing efforts didn't land.

So when if you don't land that agent, get that deal, or achieve that title, does that make you a failure, or simply unlucky?

Personally, I don't like tying resolutions to things out of my control, which is why my resolution is very simple: To finish the manuscript I started during NaNoWriMo, clean it up and make it readable (it's currently a hot mess full of continuity errors), and submit it. That's all I can do; the rest is up to fate.

Do you have a writing-related resolution?

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