Aya’s resolutions for 2016

uptown thief meditation cropMy biggest resolution for 2016 is to cultivate peace in my life. Like Louise said, it’s such an exciting time, and requires a conscious decision to be present. As a debut novelist, I have been trying to get a book published for decades. And this means that my life and psyche have been formed into a battering ram attempting to break into the industry. And now I’m in. There’s still a ton of work to do, but I need to remember that, at this point, the book is getting published and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. As I said to the debs crew in an internal communique: “I can use my power to help it, but there’s some fight-or-flight struggle for survival that I can’t tell I’ve already won here. It feels like if I don’t do everything right (and everything I can) with this debut novel, that somehow I won’t get to have a career or something. Time to breathe & let that go. Maybe this needs to be my operative question: ‘what relaxed and sustainable action can I take to support my inevitable literary success?'”

So, with that in mind, I need to heed the words of Yogi Berra and remember, “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” My writing resolution for 2016 is to stay focused on my debut novel as the main thing. This may mean that I write pieces for different outlets to publicize the book, and I’ll check in with my publicity team about that. As I’ve mentioned before, I am easily attracted by shiny little writing opportunities. There are only two other writing projects that deserve any attention. One is the sequel (which I’m writing now). The other is the book of essays I’m working on with my agent. Having said that, the challenge is to say NO to as much else as I can.

Saying no isn’t easy for me. In part because I’m a people-pleaser, but in part because I’m a big extrovert and I get invited to lots of things. With all of them, I think: that sounds fun! Or what a good cause! Or what a great networking opportunity! Needless to say, I’ll be checking with my PR team, because I will need to say no a lot and prioritize the time I have available. So those are my resolutions: peace, the main thing, and saying no.

My final resolution for 2016 is to give up sugar. Cue the grief music. To be clear: I don’t have any moral objections to sugar, and I certainly don’t object to the taste. If you like sugar, enjoy! But when I eat sugar, it messes with my mood, my sleep cycle, my immune system, and my ability to focus. I don’t often talk publicly about my struggle with sugar, because it is often presumed to be part of a weight-loss conversation, and I don’t want to be yet another voice in the ever-present background hum of women lamenting about our appearance. So I’ve decided to write several pieces in which I pick apart issues of food, fat, feminism, and body image in my collection of essays.

For 2016, I need my A-game. I need my mind sharp and my mood grounded, so the sugar has got to go. Therefore, I decide to embrace the notion that having my debut novel published is sweet enough. Alas, this will definitely give me lots of practice in saying no. It’ll also help me to focus on the main thing, and be present and enjoy my debutante year.

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Aya de Leon directs the Poetry for the People program in the African American Studies Department at UC Berkeley. Her work has appeared in Essence Magazine, xojane, Ebony, Guernica, Writers Digest, Mutha Magazine, Movement Strategy Center, My Brown Baby, KQED Pop, Bitch Magazine, Racialicious, Fusion, and she has been a guest on HuffPostLive. She is the author of the children's picture book PUFFY: PEOPLE WHOSE HAIR DEFIES GRAVITY. Kensington Books will be publishing her debut feminist heist novel, UPTOWN THIEF, in 2016. For more info, go to ayadeleon.wordpress.com.

This article has 2 Comments

  1. Aya, I have a feeling you may make a similar resolution every year, given how you are an ambitious multi-tasker with literal superpowers! But I wish you luck making it happen this time! 🙂

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