Thursday, December 30, 2010

Hanging my underwear over the living room,
and other worthwhile New Year's resolutions

There's a state law in Oregon requiring you to go outside once a day and hug all the trees in your yard.

I might be making that up.

Nevertheless, it's true we're known as a very green state (a fact not due entirely to excessive foliage or legalized medical marijuana). Our emphasis on all things eco-friendly is probably one reason I always make one New Year's resolution designed to form a positive habit concerning the environment.

One year it was a pledge to always bring my own bags to the store. With a little help from ChicoBags, I haven't brought home a plastic sack in five years.

Another year I resolved to reduce my electricity consumption by eliminating dependence on my clothes dryer. This wouldn't be such a challenge if I lived someplace like rural Southern California, but here in Oregon's mountainous high desert it's a different story. The fact that it's snowy in the winter and blowing dust in the summer means hanging clothes outside isn't an option.

That's why I've spent the last three years using the bridge that spans my home's second story as a makeshift clothes dryer.
Classy, no?

I haven't actually decided on this year's environmental resolution, so I'm open to suggestions if you've got 'em.

In the meantime, I'm mulling what sort of writing-related resolution to make. As I've learned from my environmental ones, the most successful resolutions tend to be those I can not only measure and control, but can use to develop long-term habits. Pledging to reduce our household use of plastic bottles is easy on all those fronts (particularly when I buy my husband a home soda maker for his birthday).

Pledging to end global warming – er, not so much.

Likewise, those New Year's resolutions about getting an agent, landing a book deal, or hitting a certain sales number with your debut novel are admirable, to be sure. But how much control do you really have over that? Believe me, I know from experience that all the hard work in the world is still no guarantee you'll get what you want, when you want it.

Like I said, I still don't know what my resolution will be on the eco side of things or in the writing realm. But I do know what it won't be – something I don't have total control over.

Resolving to write a certain number of pages a month, or to query a certain number of agents, or to blog with a certain frequency – those are all things you can control.

Well, assuming you aren't abducted by giant mutant penguins. That's always a possibility with the whole global warming thing.

Are you making New Year's resolutions? What are some you've had success with in the past? Where have you crashed and burned?

Please discuss while I remove my husband's bike shorts from dangling above the living room before the house-guests arrive.


Shannon said...

Love love the drying in the hallway. We hang everything on a dryer rack in the bathroom.

Here are mine ... kinda lame and boring:

Unknown said...

One environmental pledge could be to buy locally grown products, or to replace ordinary light bulbs with energy saving ones.

I don't do pledges, because I can never think of any good ones. However, one of our radio hosts has the pledges to "not eat spiders, not do bungyjumping and not do parachuting". I think I'll steal those. ;)

Teri Anne Stanley said...

I pledge not to get abducted by giant mutant penguins. And to find my reusable bags. They are around here somewhere!

Danica Avet said...

I don't make resolutions because I don't like to feel guilty when I don't follow them. I make short-term goals instead. Things like "I will finish this book by such and such a date." And I manage to fulfill them. Usually.

middle child said...

I don't do resoltions either but I did get a piece of advice from my daughter on Christmas Day regarding my relationship with my husband that I will follow. It has worked very well so far.
I hang my laundry whenever I can. It is also a good idea to hang indoors on a drying rack in the winter to add humidity to the dry air.

Jason said...

Resolutions are made to be broken. :) I'm not a fan, because all they are is a list, and as you said, most of the time they are way too broad our out of my personal control.

I have two this year. 1 - Eat less crap, walk the dog more, and work out. I can control those things. Whether or not that results in the weight loss I desire, that's a different story...

The second is a writing one. It's simply to get a manuscript to the point where I feel comfortable taking the next steps with it. I'll worry about all the other stuff I can't control later.

As far as a green goal, not knowing what all else you do that's tough. Buy milk only in glass, reusable/returnable containers? We do this, though admittedly it's simply because the farm we get them from is better than anything else around, not because it's green. Thought it is. :)

LQQinSpace said...

Hi Tawana,
I've been following your blog for a few months and enjoying it.

For your green resolution you could go Vegan one day a week.

There is a campaign for Meat-free Mondays so you could try that perhaps:

Good luck with whatever you choose - every positive green change you make in your life benefits all of us. So you drying your underwear upstairs means my kids get to live in a slightly better world :-)

Unknown said...

Love the clothes line and I'm jealous. Our stuff gets hung over a shower rod in the laundry room and occasionally over the bar in the den. Totally boring. Loved the butt rolls too. I think my resolution may have something to do with those. Or mine rather:)

Michelle Miller said...

My writing resolutions: Finish the revised draft of my WIP, get it to my Beta readers. Then start something new while they read. Probably a YA novel I've been thinking about for a while. Maybe get a first draft of that done by the end of the year. (My inner voice just said 'ya right!')

Could I suggest a collapsible hanging rack or two? My husband gave me one for my birthday one year. His friends at work thought he was crazy but I looooved it. I have two. One of which has extra panels that fold out for more hanging capacity. The other one is older and I have mended it several times, but it still works.

Janet Reid said...

I think every writer should resolve to read more. One book that is outside their normal area of interest, or one book they've been meaning to read. Then WRITE about the book.

What they liked/what they didn't' and why. In 250 words or fewer.

I firmly believe the discipline of writing clearly and persuasively in limited space builds writing muscle.


Shannon, holy cow, your resolution list is quite ambitious! I bow to you.

Malin, good idea on the lightbulbs! I've done it haphazardly, but not a full-fledged effort to do it with ALL the bulbs.

Teri Anne, I had a hard time remembering my reusable bags for the first year or two I lugged those big canvas ones around. Then I got a bunch of ChicoBags (which scrunch up tiny into a little self-made pouch) and I haven't had an issue since then. They just get stuffed into my purse so I never have to run back to the car and hunt for bags or put them back in when I'm done.

Danica, I'm a big fan of setting the bar low, too!

middle child, what, you aren't going to share the advice so we can all benefit? :)

Jason, I wish the milk one were do-able for us. We literally go through about five gallons of milk a week. That's just for two of us (and I'll give you a hint -- it's not me drinking most of it). Crazy.

LQQ, good idea on the vegan thing. I'll look into it. Though I'm sure we have at last a couple meat-free days a week, we've never made a conscious effort to have a specific day of the week we do it. I might have to give it a shot, thanks!

TC McKee, we use the shower rod when we run out of room.

Michelle, we've got a couple of those drying racks, but I'm just too damn lazy to set them up and take them down all the time. The bridge just seems easier.

Janet, great idea about reading books outside your normal area of interest. I do this constantly, and I'd say at least 50% of the time, I find I'm wrong about what I think I like/don't like.

Thanks for reading, guys!

Michelle Miller said...

Take the racks down? Who does that. There are six people living in my house and laundry is a never-ending process. I just feel so much more organized when the laundry is hanging on racks rather than spread throughout the house. Also, the racks are portable so I can hide them in whatever room I'm not in and not have to look at them all the time.

Love your blog, by the way. Most of the writing blogs I read are by agents, but there are three writers blogs I check consistently: Yours, Neil Gaiman's, and Michael Perry's. Thanks for the fun and useful info and have yourself a great 2011.

Unknown said...

I tried to be realistic in this year's resolutions (HERE) and though I'd love to resolve to find an agent, get published, blah, blah, you're right--I can't control those. So I'll focus on what I can control.

As for an environmental goal, I like the change out all the light bulbs someone said. Or you could get those breakers that you turn off when you're not using something so the electricity vampires don't suck extra energy (I can't remember what they're called!).

Happy New Year--have a wonderful, productive one!