I guess one of the reasons I'm me is because I do things like this. I don't have New Year's Resolutions. I have a New Year's Motto.
This isn't just a wishy-washy little promise that I have no intention of keeping. No, a Motto represents the foundation upon which all of my choices for the coming year rest. It's a belief system. And, just like any motto, it has to ring perfectly true if I expect anyone - especially me- to follow it.
Some years I can never quite settle on one. So I just don't. Those are usually the years I tried to kid myself into thinking that I will start cooking and eating healthy on a regular basis. Not. Going. To. Happen.
But some years I nail it. Like I did with the very first Motto. That one really changed me.
F.U.N. (Free of Unecessary Negativity)
It was the late 90s, I was in my mid-20s and sharing an apartment with two girlfriends in Brentwood, just down the street from Nicole Brown Simpson's front porch. This was about the time I started realizing that maybe the world wasn't really that terrible. And that maybe, just maybe, I had a serious problem with pessimism. I just wasn't having as much fun as everyone around me seemed to be.
I kind of do things head on, without much room for emotional nuance or game playing. So I announced to my roommates that the coming year (I think it was 1997) was going to be F -- U -- N. Free of Unnecessary Negativity.
This is what that Motto represented to me. It's actually quite simple. When I have an idea to do something (and I often do), I should just stop thinking right there. Shut up, stand up, and go make it happen. Because if I start thinking, I will find every possible way to talk myself out of it. Even an idea as simple as "Go to Universal Studios," something I'd wanted to do since I moved to LA two years earlier but always found a reason not to.
My friends - who clearly did not have issues with pessimism -- were all in.
I have it all chronicled in a photo album called "The Year of F.U.N." Inside it are photos of my first camping trip (Grand Canyon), rollerskating on a weeknight and flirting with the DJ so he'd play all of our favorite 80s songs, theme parties like Beers of the World (we bought a case of O'Douls because we thought it was "Irish beer"), and - you guessed it - Universal Studios.
I admit, I did go back to being slightly lazy once the year was up, but that Motto was a huge shift for me. And why I'm doing what I am today. Which is the whole reason I got on here to write this post. So here goes.
Late last year I took a class on writing a non-fiction book proposal. I'd always wanted to adapt this blog (or what the blog was supposed to be if Wine Guy hadn't ruined everything so soon) into a book. After a few weeks of bouncing the idea around with my classmates and getting encouraging feedback from the instructor, I thought, "Hey, I could actually do this."
The more I thought about it, the more reasons I came up with for why I know I could make this happen. People I know. Skills I have (like writing - duh- and working in media and marketing). A lot of free time which, if I were to have a baby like I hope, would vanish. I could be a writer. Well, a paid one anyway.
That's when I thought up what would be the first draft of my motto for 2010.
People sell their book ideas every day. Some actually get read. And some people actually become full-time, professional writers. Why can't that person be me?
But I still wasn't sold on the Motto. Something was missing. After a few days tossing it around in my head and in conversation, I discovered the hitch. The word "Dream" was one big, gaping loophole. And if my little insecure self sees a loophole that will keep me from trying to be great, I'll jump right through it. And a dream, my friends, is something you wake up from. It ain't real.
The second and final draft was a no-brainer.
I will be a writer.
One week later I got the phone call that confirmed for me the power of a good tagline.
To Be Continued.... but in case anyone out there (like a publisher:-) is wondering, I haven't even finished the book proposal yet. But trust me people, it's still good.