Here we go with the New Year thing again. It seems like everyone is picking a special word for the year. A term that represents a goal to strive for. Dream. Reach. Scrub. A worthy discipline to inspire them. Love. Forgive. Sabotage.
I like this new trend of picking one word instead of making an unkeepable New Year’s resolution. Really, I do. The problem is, I have trouble staying focused on one word. Still, I decided to give it a shot. I concentrated and tried to come up with a word for myself for 2012. This is what happened:
Yeah, you see the problem. They’re all such great words! I couldn’t possibly pick one.
After I gave myself a migraine trying to think about only one word for more than a nanosecond, I admitted defeat and decided to carry on my tradition of picking a song for the year.
It took me all of two seconds to realize the obvious choice for 2012’s song of the year. Given my near constant state of career frustration, it could be none other than Vampire Weekend’s "Giving Up the Gun."
Let me explain.
On second thought, I think I’ll make you watch the video before I explain. That’ll be more fun.
All I’m going to say is, I’m pretty sure this song is NOT about making a career as a novelist or meant to be any sort of commentary on the publishing industry. But it could be.
I love it! So many good moments. Joe Jonas’ fancy footwork, disinterested handshake and disgusted shirt wipe. The samurai who hacks the ball in half. The fake blonde twins. The ambiguous guys in racing gear. Ahem, THE AMAZON! Overconfident Jake Gyllenhaal getting pinged on the butt. And, of course, Little Red Tights playing her way to the top only to face her toughest competitor—herself.
I laugh every time I see that video, but it wasn’t in my thoughts when I adopted "Giving Up the Gun" as this year’s song. Really it was the title and lyrics that sprang into my mind when I anticipated the coming year. Apparently, the song refers to a period in Japanese history when the country extradited foreigners, cut off trade, and instead of using guns, reverted back to the sword. Sorta rocks, doesn't it? But it’s the weary tone that strikes me. There such a sense of loss, regret, longing, defeat, and, of course, flaming tennis balls.
You see how I can relate?
Just as I did at this time last year, I find myself discouraged, without a contract, without direction, in between projects and wondering why bother? Why pour myself into another 90,000 word manuscript that no one cares about? How can I do this to my family? Aren’t I depriving them of time and resources and balanced meals for my own selfish, unrealistic goals of being an author?
My husband has heard all of this whiney mumbo jumbo about a thousand times, but, because he is awesome, he doesn’t tell me to give it up and go get a job. He probably should, but he doesn’t. Instead he is patient, understanding, and encouraging. Despite his crusty, logical exterior, he has an artist’s heart. After one of my recent rants he told me to put all the publishing stuff aside and just write because it’s what I love. Instead of trying harder to make money and advance my career, he encouraged me to let go of the stuff that weighs me down the most—my continued professional failure—and just do what I love.
In the writing world there’s a collective joke about getting stuck somewhere in your plot. If you say, “Man enters with a gun,” around writers, they’ll chuckle and recognize that the author is trying to force action and excitement into a scene that has gone wandering off into La La Land. “Man enters with a gun” is a last ditch effort to save something probably not worth saving. Better to go back, rewrite, or start fresh.
This year I am giving up the gun. I refuse to use force—to push and strive and cry and sweat in my attempt to achieve my goals. I am going to write for fun and for love and because I have the most awesome husband on the planet and because I can’t make myself think about one word at a time and because I love my writing community and because my brother wants me to blog more. I will accept and revel in any opportunities God places in my lap, but I will not enter into any professional encounters holding a gun.
If you’re wondering if I intend to start carrying a rusty sword around, or a tennis racket for that matter, you can rest assured that I will be weapon-free for the next twelve months. I may have to get a pair of red tights, which, on certain legs (not mine), can be slightly intimidating. But I promise to use my crimson hosiery only for good.