Lose weight. Exercise more. Learn something new. All these are popular New Year’s resolutions according to Peter Economy on Inc. Statistics show that many abandon their goals the first week. Some manage 21 days. Even some of the hardy falter after 90 days. The stalwart hang on but few accomplish their goals.
I’ve been successful at keeping my New Year’s resolution for many years. My secret to success? Skip the resolutions. This year, a few celebrities have expressed that mindset.
Melinda Gates chooses a word for the year. Last year, her word was grace.
Oprah Winfrey reminds us to be careful what we chose. With a twist of humor, she advises not to ask for courage because you don’t know what you’ll have to go through to get it. She says she “lives in the moment.” Instead of making resolutions, she has written five things in a grateful journal each night since 1995.
I began my grateful journal with three things each night on New Year’s Day 2017. I made it through the next day. I skipped a week, then a month. The last entry on May 24, 2018, was a single line. “I am grateful for the stability of a cane.”
This year, after a thirty-month absence from my journal, I wrote my chiropractor’s name. Those treatments have made it possible for me to walk cane-free on most days and to sit at my computer for longer periods.
Perhaps I will end 2019 with gratitude that my novel has been published. Along the way, I will be grateful for my novel critique group who have helped me over the rough spots.
My fiction novel critique group is one of the best for reality checks. From how many seconds it takes for a body to fall from a San Francisco skyscraper roof to driving hours from Arizona to Texas, they question the reality. Things like a locked vehicle left in the parking lot, then idling at the curb in the next chapter cause eyebrows to raise during the discussion. As a group, they help individual writers avoid obvious mistakes that stop the reader.
Esther Crain, the author in this Yahoo Parenting publication, should have submitted her story about Prince George’s new hideaway to my critique group for a reality fact check.
“When Prince George needs a little alone time, he retreats to this recently refurbished thatched-roof treehouse, built for his dad, Prince William, in 1989, when he was a boy.”
Alone time for a two-year old?
“He’s always lived in grand style: first at Kensington Palace in London, and, more recently, to a magnificent estate in the English countryside, with his parents and new baby sister.
But now, 2-year-old Prince George has new digs where he can hide away by himself when royal life gets too stuffy. He’s got his very own treehouse, located in the garden grounds at his grandfather Prince Charles’s country estate, Highgrove.” (Prince George’s Treehouse in Yahoo Parenting )
New digs to escape royalty?
Cute if this were a twist on the fictional Hansel and Gretel story, but this is real life. Prince George is royalty.
Since Esther Crain didn’t consult my fact-checking critique group, Yahoo Parenting should have added a DON’T- TRY-THIS-AT-HOME warning for copycat parents not to leave their red-and-white-clad toddlers alone in a Highgrove look-alike backyard tree house.
The idea for “Dreamcatcher” was born from a short-story challenge in my critique group. Each of us wrote a person/thing and a location/place on paper, then folded it to hide the secret. We pulled the various-shaped papers from a container, like drawing names for Christmas gifts. I unfolded the page and stared. “Albino Indian” and “Deadwood, South Dakota stared back, defying me to conquer that challenge.
I posted the colorful stationary page on the bulletin board next to my computer. I glanced at it dozens of times over the next months without a hint of inspiration. One day, fingers poised over the keyboard, I had an Aha! moment, and the story emerged. The basic beginning, middle, and end flowed together. I read it at the critique group the next December. Yes, they liked my story, however they reminded me that the three rules to improve writing are edit, edit, edit!
Months later, the moment arrived when I confidently submitted it to the California Writers Club Tri-Valley Branch members-only anthology. The first rounds were read and critiqued anonymously. What? It needs more edits? Doesn’t the review committee understand that I’m a copy editor. Besides, “Dreamcatcher” has been edited half a dozen times.
After revising to include the committee’s concerns, “Dreamcatcher” made the final cut. I’ll be one of the readers featured at the book launch this week. As I read the story aloud in preparation, I skip a word and inject new words. It’s then I realize my story isn’t finished—only published.
California Writers Club Tri-Valley Branch Book Launch
Voices of the Valley: Encore
January 25, 2014
Towne Center Books
555 Main Street
Pleasanton, California USA
Click HERE to peek inside this anthology on Amazon.