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Saturday, 9 January 2016

Writing Resolutions by Ros Bayes

 Head of Janus, Vatican Museum, Rome


I was once highly amused by an article on New Year’s resolutions, written by the late lamented Miles Kington. He said he had decided only ever to make resolutions he couldn’t fail to keep, and gave as an example the resolution never to speak fluent Norwegian in public (one he would certainly keep, as he didn’t speak a word of Norwegian).

I thought this was an excellent plan, and decided to adopt it myself, and so for the past few years I have made only those resolutions I can guarantee to keep. And I can report that I did indeed succeed in keeping last year’s resolutions – I was always wearing clothes when I turned up at church, I spoke only English to my colleagues at work, and I made no attempt to swim the channel. 

Buoyed up by this success, I have again made some resolutions which I am guaranteed to be able to keep in 2016. I have resolved not to compete in the 2016 Olympics, to avoid entering for The X Factor, and not to set light to the offices where I work. I shouldn’t have too much difficulty keeping those. 

Apparently New Year's resolutions have a very long history, and began as promises made to a god or gods at the start of the year.  In ancient Babylon people made promises to the gods to return anything they had borrowed and repay their debts.  The Romans began the year by making promises to the god Janus, from whom January gets its name.  While there is no exact Biblical equivalent, we can see throughout Scripture that new seasons and new beginnings often have a spiritual significance, and indicate that God is about to do something new.

It occurs to me that Miles Kington's method of making resolutions would apply equally well to the writing sphere. I will cheerfully resolve not to write a book in anything other than my mother tongue. (Even though I have been known to write poetry in French and German, it probably wasn’t any good! I certainly wouldn’t attempt a whole book.) It would be very easy for me to resolve not to write a whodunnit – it’s not my genre and I will happily leave it to the experts among us such as Fiona Veitch Smith (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fiona-Veitch-Smith/e/B005SBW57C), Wendy Jones (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wendy-H.-Jones/e/B00OABSKH0) and Elizabeth Flynn (http://www.amazon.co.uk/%28Novelist%29-Elizabeth-Flynn/e/B001KHT0US). 

More seriously, I resolve never to write anything titillating. Even though my novel The Well is Deep includes scenes which I could have written in a graphic or salacious way, I chose not to. I have seen relationships destroyed by addiction to written or pictorial erotic material and I will never put that kind of temptation in anyone’s way. 

On a more positive note, I sincerely hope I can resolve that the books and articles I write will always point people to Jesus. He gave me my passion for writing, and my desire is always to use it for His glory. (That's not to say, as a recent discussion on the Facebook page has been debating, that I have to "preach" overtly in everything I write, although personally I do mainly write in genres that allow me to be explicit about message of Christ.  But I live out my Christian faith in front of my friends and neighbours, without accosting them and preaching to them every day, yet still hope they see something different in me that will draw them to Him, and I hope that in the same way the Spirit of God will permeate my writing and be a beacon in the darkness of the world.)

Have you made any writing-related New Year’s resolutions?

Ros Bayes has 7 published and 4 self-published books, as well as some 3 dozen magazine articles. She is the mother of 3 daughters, one of whom has multiple complex disabilities, and she currently works for Through the Roof (www.throughtheroof.org) as their Training Resources Developer, and loves getting paid to write about disability all day. You can find her blog at http://rosbunneywriting.wordpress.com and her author page at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ros-Bayes/e/B00JLRTNVA/. Follow her on Twitter: @rosbwriting.  

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for the reminder about Miles Kington - I haven't heard his name for ages, and I remember reading him (did he write for The Times?) and thinking how funny he was. I love the idea of making resolutions you know you can keep. Funny post, Ros, and with a good message!

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  2. Ros, thank you for this fascinating insight into how you manage to keep your New Year resolutions. I think this is a method which could work for me, and I fully intend to give it a go

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  3. Having failed to achieve aspirational resolutions for several years running, I haven't made any at all this year. My mother also used to say that New Year was a pagan festival and therefore not important to Christians. Me, I plod along, getting on with The Novel and subbing short stories, with God's help, throughout the year.

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  4. What a great idea we are so inclined to set unachievable targets that leave us feeling low, an excellent confidence booster and fun :) was also really interested in where resolutions come from - thank you x

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  5. So.... what unbreakable resolutions are you all going to make, then?

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  6. This made me chuckle. Thank you!

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  7. The serious resolutions: settle my Father's estate, and finish the first draft of Book Three. Not so serious: avoid anything illegal or immoral enough to get me defrocked (i.e. evicted from the ranks of the clergy).

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  8. Resolving to get braver about marketing and less thin-skinned about rejection. Fortitude is my 'word' for the year!

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