It’s that time of year again.
That time of year where we review what we’ve done over the last twelve months like we can lay out our lives into neat little calendar boxes.
We rue our failures, cheer at our successes, and plan for the next twelve months. We often call this planning “New Years Resolutions” but these resolutions, for me at least, tend to be revisions on my past year’s failures and the stench of such failures tends to cloud my thinking. There’s that niggling doubt in the back of my head that questions, if all of 2012 wasn’t enough for me to succeed, what’s to make 2013 any different?
Such doubts make us reach farther, thinking that maybe I just didn’t have a big enough target last year and so I missed the mark. Last January I planned to finish writing my book. That’s such a tiny bulls eyes, so maybe if I plan to write three books this year, I’ll get somewhere. Now I can see the gigantic red dot. I’ll finish the books and send them to agents and I’ll go big! Just like that!
Gung ho and three days in I beat myself over the head for not having written anything yet.
Now I’m not saying don’t have big dreams. Don’t get me wrong. Big dreams are what make people stand out, they’re what give us passion.
As Daniel Lee Edstrom once wrote: “The smell of frustration cannot compete with the stench of non-creation.”
In other words, frustration is much better than nothing. If you’re frustrated, at least you’re trying, you’re moving forward, learning and active.
What happens, however, is we see the big dreams and forget all the small steps required in between to achieve those dreams. January 2nd rolls around and we sigh, well the big resolution was a good idea, but it’s just too big. Can’t eat the whole elephant so I won’t even try.
Here’s the trick though, you don’t have to eat the whole elephant, you just have to pick a piece to start. How about the tail?
My tail? Focusing on the senses in writing. Once I spend a while on those, maybe I’ll move onto a toe. I’ll call that toe Close Point of View but I won’t look too closely at that now because the senses is my start. Breaking that down even more, I’ll focus on smell. Why? Because smell is powerful.
Helen Keller once wrote: “Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousand of miles and all the years you have lived.”
I smell the perfume I wore on the day of my wedding and all the emotions of that day come rushing back to me. What magic!
So to put smell into writing is my challenge. I’ll dig into it and see what I can come up with.
Nate and I were hiking in the fall when the aspens were dropping their leaves. Our path was so covered that I termed it the ‘yellow brick road.’ As we moved along, the crush of the leaves and their slow decay filled the air with that pungent oder so distinct to aspen groves in the fall. I began, like a first grade lesson in word association, to describe that smell.
My Dad called it the smell of bitter tea. I like this better because the smell is indeed bitter but I like tea in a warm, ‘umm’ type of way. The description ‘rings true’ for me and, I suspect, rings true for a few others too.
How would you describe the fall of aspen leaves? The scent of snow? The smell of home canned peaches? These are my small steps to start the year.
Maybe you plan to start a business or learn to sing or stop smoking or loose weight or…
Whatever your resolution, what’s the first small step you can take to make it a reality?
Blessings and Happy New Year,