Tuesday, January 02, 2007

nose to grindstone

The diet and fitness book industry thrives off of our most favoritest key phrase (and one we like to chime at marketing meetings all year long): New Year, New You! Nothing frees up January cash (can we say BnN giftcards?) like the combination of post-holiday fat and the social pressure to remake yourself.

So why not be a cow and go along for the ride?

Saul Bellow (I think it was good old Saul) tells the story of the Woman on the Diet. The Woman on some whim begins to tell all of her friends that she needs to lose weight and that she's going on a diet. She talks about this so much for various strictly communicative purposes that eventually the friends start to repeat it back to her and reference her diet in various ways. When she hears it from them, she realizes in her head she is on a diet, and next thing she knows she actually is on a diet. Viola! A nifty psychological trick, and one we employ only semi-subconsciously (wow--if "semi-subconsciously" doesn't look like a bushism then people have been having too much fun with Latin lately).

Nikki has pointed out to me there's a difference between "resolutions" and "goals" so I will put down here (in public declaration!!) two different categories.

Resolutions:
-I will write in my blog, for it has manifold attractions: 1) it is a good writing exercise and helps me keep limber access to the approximately 74 words in my vocabulary; 2) it helps me decompress; 3) it gives me fodder for future works of fiction because some day I will look back on all the inane things I do and think they are fascinating and priceless, and I shall turn them into a bestselling Great American Novel that will sell millions of copies, if people are still reading books then and haven't just decided to stick with their PDAs; and 4) acting as an easy-access and unfettered journal, it allows me to preserve my immaturity. As a very wise mentor (I think it was Dr. Archibald) once pointed out, although your own personality change isn't really discernible to you, the user, nor even immediately identifiable by those who see you frequently and might comment, the fact is that each and every day you add to your bank some kind of experience you didn't have the day before (albeit, in my case, cube-monkey experience) and you become that tiny bit more mature (and by mature I mean most literally aged, although there are many ways to age) than you were. The only way to create an honest and true character at a certain level of immaturity (and without an insufferably Thomas Hardyish fond reminiscence of innocence and naivete kind of voice) is to retain, for yourself, some vestige (most conveniently written) of your own bygone silliness. Not that I intend to discontinue being silly. I hope you see what I'm saying here. For I have taken a good long while to say it.
-I will write other things, too. I'm not sure what right now but you know. These things must shape organically.
-I will seek out opportunity when I see it and not make excuses for letting things pass me by.
-I will call my aunt on the phone at least once or twice a week.
-I will be a nice person. Well, nicer. To most people.

Goals:
-I will develop my career.
-I will write one new novel.
-I will rewrite one old novel.
-I will revive my quest to find an agent who will tolerate either of my novels.
-I will not set myself impossible and unachievably monumental goals and then excuse myself for failing them by referencing their impossibly and unachievably monumentalness.
-I will lose 25 pounds and learn to speak Arabic, Farsi, French, and Tagalog. And Turkish. While cooking delicious gourmet meals and running on the treadmill.

The last one was a joke, since I don't have a treadmill. (The second to last one was not a joke.)

Hmm. In retrospect, I do not observe that I have delineated effectively between the "resolutions" and the "goals." Alas, I do not give a fluffy.

Buono capo d'anno, piccirilli.

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