“Nothing changes on New Year’s Day”
Dear stranger, I am a writer. I’ve decided to self-identify as a writer for the first time in my life. I’ve always been too scared that writing is something that I couldn’t succeed at, or that it’s not something that I could ever do as a job or vocation, though I could do it on the side as a hobby. But not owning it means that I never have given writing my full concentration and effort, not even when I was a grad student. Back then I was still aiming to be a professor or teacher, not a writer. This identity is going to take some getting used to. I don’t feel comfortable calling myself a writer, but I think it’s a necessary step.
Part of this change in orientation means that I am planning to devote more time to writing this year than I did last year. I hope that means that I have more content for the blog in the coming year. It’s a struggle to find time as a stay-at-home parent. Even when the kids are napping or in bed for the night, it’s so much easier to sit back and stream a TV show or waste time on the internet. But I’m making the declaration of my identity as a writer and my goal to write more here on the blog so that it’s public and it forces me to live up to my aspirations.
I meant to have this post up on January first, but I’ve been busy painting our basement. Our basement flooded last summer, and we’re still putting it back together six months later. It’s a split level home, so the basement is half the living area of the house. It’s been an adjustment, to say the least, not to have use of half of the house when three little kids want to play, play, play. When the weather was warmer, that wasn’t as much of a problem. But today, for example, we were house bound because of below zero temperatures and even colder wind chill.
I’m not one who usually makes resolutions for each new year. It’s not that I think it’s a bad practice. On the contrary, self-improvement is a great goal to be renewed every year. And it’s not that I have no areas of my life to improve either. There’s plenty that I should be working on. When I was in high school and college I used to set reading goals for the summer vacation. I would make a list of books that I wanted to read during the break. I was always overambitious and unrealistic. Usually I only read one or two books from the list, if any. Sometimes I would read other books not on the list, but often I ended up not even reading all that much.
The last few years I’ve made informal goals to read approximately 50 books a year, or about one per week. Looking back over my records (because I like to make lists), I read 44 books in 2009, 55 books in 2010, 40 books in 2011, neglected to keep records in 2012 (or lost the file), 36 books in 2013, and 29 books last year. So I made my goal once in the past six years, and, as I recall, I was able to read a lot that year while holding our first child as he napped. I’ve gone ahead and made my 50 books a year goal more formal this year by posting it on goodreads.com (feel free to friend me at goodreads.com under the name Andy Zell). I’m also planning on writing short reviews on most/all of the books I do manage to read this year, and I’ll collect them monthly and post them here on the blog.
As for the song embedded above, I used to be a huge U2 fan back when I was making those reading goals for the summer. I would try to listen to this song on New Year’s Day, although I’m not even sure why. Perhaps because I liked the line quoted above so much. Nothing changes. There’s so much continuity from year to year. I’m still the same person on January first that I was on December thirty-first. Except things do change. I’m not the same person I was 15-20 years ago. I still enjoy some old U2 tunes now and then, but they’re no longer my favorite band.
In 2015, I’ll continue writing about the change and continuity of my life. I am a writer. I am a stranger.