All the things you can (and can’t) control

I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions, just like some of the other Debs. “Lose weight” usually ends three weeks in when I twist my ankle on the treadmill and remember that pasta exists. “Spend less” makes me shriek with laughter, since I’m a homeowner. I’d love to “learn a new hobby,” except that between keeping the baby alive and keeping my career alive, I barely have time to sleep.

These “big” resolutions are often unhealthy because they lack the kind of structure a human being needs in order to succeed. Want to lose weight? Without structure, you’ll wander around, eating a salad here and there, going to the gym when it’s convenient. A consistent schedule — gym before work, counting calories, breaking big things into tiny, consumable bits — is what worked for me. (Twice. It worked for me twice. Hey, I like pasta.)

Sometimes, the resolutions aren’t even controllable. We want to “get an agent” or “land the next book deal,” but we can’t control the market, or what agents and editors like this season.
Better resolutions can be chopped into bits, or converted from uncontrollable monsters to consumable bits: “Write more” becomes “write at least 200 words a day” or “write on the train to work three times a week.” “Get an agent” becomes “send out 10 queries a week.” Since I experience anxiety, I’m really big on focusing on things you can control rather than things that you can’t.

So that’s why I’m here on New Year’s Eve 2019 trying to rein in my usual big, wacky resolutions that won’t get me anywhere but limping around Baltimore with a stroller eating pasta. Instead of “earn out my advance on Architects of Memory,” which I can’t control, I’m choosing “do my utmost to rock novel promo,” which I can. Instead of “get new book deal,” I’m choosing “write a killer third novel.” Instead of “survive 2020” I’m going to…

… well, that one’s just going to have to be taken a day at a time.

Good luck and good fortune to all of you in the new year. May you land all of the resolutions you make — big and small and, of course, those that are pasta-related.

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Karen Osborne

KAREN OSBORNE is a writer, visual storyteller and violinist. Her short fiction appears in Escape Pod, Robot Dinosaurs, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Uncanny and Fireside. She is a member of the DC/MD-based Homespun Ceilidh Band, emcees the Charm City Spec reading series, and once won a major event filmmaking award for taping a Klingon wedding. Her debut novel, Architects of Memory, is forthcoming in 2020 from Tor Books.

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