Thursday, 15 January 2015

A Writer's Resolve ... by Valerie-Anne Baglietto

So - what exactly does RESOLUTION mean?

Its original definition was, apparently, 'to loosen or dissolve again'. Ironic I think, because that's exactly what happens to most people's New Year ones as January lurches on, freezing, wet and windy, and possibly the bleakest of all the months in the northern hemisphere. Our resolutions, like tight, tense knots in our days, loosen. Our determination dissolves in the face of teeth-chatteringly cold mornings and dark evenings. Spring is somewhere out there, we can sense it, but it's still too far away. We try to starve after Christmas, forgetting that our bodies need a few calories to stay warm. We vow to go to the gym, but funnily enough, there still aren't twenty-five hours in a day, even in our technologically advanced 2015. We promise ourselves lots of things we never live up to, and so we get depressed and winter eats into our bodies and souls until we get the flu, or just binge on wine or hot chocolate or too much tinned soup. Anyway. 


My resolution this year was paradoxically not to make any. I broke it almost immediately by making one. My wardrobe is so fit to bursting that I decided to take a leaf out of my daughter's book and try experimenting more with what I already have rather than adding to it. My daughter isn't afraid to try out combinations you wouldn't think would go together, and quite often, she manages to pull it off. Maybe you can get away with this when you're nine.

Well, I then went and broke my resolution not to buy any new clothes almost immediately last weekend when I bought this... 

I couldn't resist, it was on sale. It's obvious I need to stay out of shops because my willpower is pathetically low.

So as my husband returned to work and my three children to school, I turned my attention to the WIP that I'd put aside to make way for Christmas. Maybe instead of resolutions I knew I couldn't keep - anything involving retail therapy basically - I would focus on my writing instead.

Writing in itself has always been like a form of counselling for me. When it's going well and I'm getting lots of words down on paper, it helps keep depression at bay. But sometimes there's a glitch and I'm not getting those words down fast enough, and the glitch isn't life getting in the way but my own fixation on making those words Perfect with a capital P. I can obsess for far too long and lose sight of my reader, who won't care or notice that I substituted a fancier word for another with the same meaning. If the emotion is there, and the page-turning elements of the plot, it shouldn't make any difference, as long as the word I decide to use doesn't jar, or detract, or fall short. 

I know voice and style and good prose are vital, but not at the expense of getting the story across and making it resonate in the reader's heart. What I mean is that I'm going to focus on the emotion in my story, and on the narrative more, and not get so bogged down by the prettiness or cleverness of my language quite as much.

So, that's my first resolution. For me, it's important. It should increase my productivity. But at this gloomy time of year creativity in general might need a boost anyway; like a blast of virtual Vitamin D, we often need something to pep us up. Another creative outlet besides writing often helps. 

I'm no good at crochet, sadly. My spirit is willing but my fingers are rubbish at it. I do enjoy photography though, I always have. Nothing serious, but these days I like the challenge of taking good photos with nothing but my phone. I also like playing around with filters afterwards. 
#NoFilters (Taken on 29th Dec 2014)

It serves a second purpose because I'm also taking photos of places or objects that inspire me and might end up in one of my books. So I'm resolved to enjoy this hobby more than ever this year and take advantage of Instagram. It's fun and I've met some lovely people on there. 

As writers, our words and stories paint pictures but sometimes we need to fix that picture in our own heads first before we can convey it to our readers, and with the digital wonders of Pinterest we don't need that pin-board hanging above our desks any more (which is just as well as I don't have room for one.)

Well, these are my most important writerly resolutions. I think some of the Novelistas are planning to share theirs, but we'd love to hear yours, too...

Happy 2015!

Valerie-Anne x 
Twitter: @VABaglietto

The perfect antidote to winter... 
(Yes, really.)

Marrying the man of your dreams might be more literal than you think.

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  1. Love the idea of you not making, making and breaking resolutions. You always put loads of emotion into your writing so I'm sure that one will be easy for you to keep.
    I have stopped making resolutions as I NEVER keep them. It's just another way of making me feel guilty and adding to the January blues.
    I've been enjoying the photos you've posted on Facebook. Very atmospheric and beautiful. I've not investigated Instagram yet. Not sure I should, to be honest. I'm bad enough with Pinterest. It's so absorbing, it's one of the best tools for procrastination I know, and I don't need help!
    Happy New Year to you Val, and to all the lovely Novelistas. xx

    1. Hi Sharon, thank you so much, and the same to you. Hope 2015 is super successful for you! I know what you mean about resolutions, why do we put so much pressure on ourselves at the most miserable time of year? Why all that strain? In the end, my resolutions for my writing aren't so hard, you're right, because they're more of a reminder to 'feel' the story rather than try to use my head too much. I think a first draft is better if it's full of emotion, even if the words are rubbish. It's easier to add 'better' words, not so easy to take fancy prose and put emotion into it - I don't think it will ring as true.
      And, yes, Pinterest is so useful. I've got a secret board at the moment, bursting with good-looking inspiration for my WIP. I'll make it public when I'm good and ready, at the moment it's MY guilty secret ;-)
      Instagram is more a case of indulging a long-standing hobby and sharing it with others, and enjoying seeing all their images too. There's a lot of interaction, and I love finding kindred spirits on the other side of the world. But, yes, be warned, it's very distracting! xx


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