Over New Year’s, I got to talking about resolutions with a few of my friends. I’m not in the habit of making resolutions, because I inevitably fail at them. But one person pointed out that it’s better not to make the same resolutions every year, especially if you’ve gotten stuck in a cycle of falling short every time. Instead, let each year be a chance to make new mistakes, rather than rehashing the old ones.
One thing I’m really good at, though, is rehashing old mistakes. I suspect some of you know the feeling: you go over the same errors over and over, not letting them go, to the point that you’ve convinced yourself that they’re the natural result of your endeavors. It’s a common spiral, and not one that helps anything. With stories it’s even easier: I know there are certain flaws that I’m susceptible to, and even though I’m alert to them, that doesn’t keep them from showing up. So it’s very easy to run into something when I’m revising and say “oh, hell, it’s that again, I always screw that up” and then get stuck on that point.
So here’s a simple resolution for the new year, as a writer and as a reader: I want to screw up in different ways this time around. I’m going to screw up somehow — no story is perfect, no approach will solve everything — but I’d much rather do so in a different manner each time. I’m fully confident that the errors in Wild Hunt are much different from the errors in Spiral Hunt, and I can already tell that the current draft has different flaws. Of course, this means that I’m on unfamiliar ground every time I confront these flaws, but I think I’d rather deal with new problems than the same damn lost cause.
Judging by my experiences on New Year’s Eve, I’m well on my way to making new mistakes already. (Although I think I can do without the “raving about plot points in between periods of barfing” part of it.) And given that I’m writing this in my PJs while home sick with a nasty head cold, I’ve already avoided one of my usual mistakes, which is denying that I’m sick until I have to be bundled up and carried out the door.
Happy Epiphany, all. Here’s to new errors, better mistakes, and a whole new year of making our way through stories.