Early in my writing career, I kept daily journals of my personal and professional activities. Sometimes these were separate — a personal diary and a professional calendar. Usually, though, the two were co-mingled.
At the end of each year, I’d record a year in review (see yesterday’s post). Then I’d look ahead to the coming year, usually with optimism. I called those “perspectives,” although I know now they would more properly be “prospectives.” Here, then are some excerpts from January, 1979:
I am not a prophet, although I do believe such people exist. I am also not a psychic, a species in which I have even less belief. I don’t believe I have ever met either type.
Why, then, do I intend to commit my views of the coming year to paper? Mostly so I can come back a year or more from now to see how I behaved myself.
This year I shall write a number of humor articles, various reports and letters, a few opinion pieces, some short stories, and pieces of major works such as a novel or casebook series. I hope to sell at least some of the stories and articles and to publish the reports and letters in other ways. I do not expect to profit from my writing, but I do expect that by the end of the year I will have made some money on it.Journal
Another practice I maintained both in my journals and later in my columns was to list some resolutions for the coming year. Often I’d make something I knew I could depend on, like “quit smoking.” Of course, it’s easy to quit something when you’re already not doing it.
Here, then, is what I resolved at the beginning of 1979:
- I will discipline myself to write something every day, and to study my craft by reading broadly and carefully.
- When writing, I will not allow my editorial character to kill an idea before it plays itself out.
- Nor will I kill an idea before trying it out elsewhere, i.e. at market.
- I will attempt to extend my circle of friends and to deepen my personal relationships.
- I will attempt to strengthen my family ties by regular writing, visits, and calls.
- I will spend my time in serious pursuit of my chosen craft in order that I may determine this year whether I wish to continue it.
- This year I will figure myself out enough that I may relieve my fears and indecision, but will leave enough mystery and wonder that life will not become dull.
- I will not squander time, talent, money, or resources, but will instead endeavor to make prudent use thereof.
- I will exercise both my body and my mind regularly, and not avoid good healthy fun of either kind when it is available.
- [Last, but not least …] I will love the Lord my God with all my heart, mind, body, and soul, and will love my neighbor as myself.
As resolutions go, not a bad list — although, really, how many of us can honestly say at the end of the year that they kept their promises?
Except maybe the one about not smoking.
It is, of course, one thing to write these things now, comfortably seated alone in my room … and quite another thing to follow through when being tempted by the distractions of the daily grind. …
For some reason, I feel I have been called to try writing, to make productive use of my time, and follow my responsibilities as a human being. I have been lax at these in the past. I will not allow slackness in the future. — HF 1/16/79ibid.