Posted by Kathy Waller
We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room,
drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched.
Maybe this year, to balance the list,
we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives…
not looking for flaws, but for potential.
If you don’t know where you are going,
you’ll end up someplace else.
~ Yogi Berra
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
~ (Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 6)
Goals drive me crazy. ~ Kathy Waller
On last week’s Austin Mystery Writers blog , I said I don’t like goals. I like to set goals, to list them in a nice, neat column in a nice, neat notebook.
But as soon as they’re on paper, claustrophobia sets in. I dig in my heels, I fret, I resist. I have a severe case of the fantods. Out of respect for my sanity, I lose the list. Which means I lose the goals. I achieve some of them, in time, but others drift away, gone with the wind that perpetually sweeps through my mind.
I know it’s crazy, but there’s something about the list that just drives me up the wall.
Several years ago I found a way to list my goals without risking my sanity–A Round of Words in 80 Days: The Writing Challenge That Knows You Have a Life.* With ROW80 I don’t feel the (self-inflicted) pressure I feel with the list-them-do-them method.
And the challenge is fun. I meet other bloggers, check out their goals, watch their progress, and see how they achieve their goals–and not just in writing–in a world where life sometimes gets in the way.
A ROW80 friend who blogs at shanjeniah’s Lovely Chaos offered a perspective on goal setting that complements ROW80. “What I do now is set lots of goals – but set them as a buffet,” she writes. “That way, they’re a selection of lovely options I can sample, nibbling or devouring as mood and life allow.”
“A selection of lovely options.” How could anyone not sample lovely options? Chocolate mousse, fried chicken, cheesecake, prime rib, fried oysters, East Side Cafe chicken artichoke soup… Watermelon!
Why does the buffet metaphor work for me? Once again, we look to Shakespeare for the answer:
…there is nothing either good or bad,
but thinking makes it so.
~ Hamlet, II, ii, l. 241-2
Or, if you, too, have the fantods over goal setting and need a stronger statement, then look to John Milton:
The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n.
~ Paradise Lost, Book 1, lines 254-5
Mind → goal = bad = hell
Mind → goal = watermelon = good = heaven
So. I am aiming for heaven.
From now on, I will waltz up to the buffet and load my plate with watermelon.
Why have I posted a second time about goals?
First, because after writing the earlier goals post, I learned about the buffet method and thought it worth passing on.
Second, because through another ROW80 friend, The Writerly Reader, I learned about 746 Books and 20 Books of Summer. Some of the titles I’ve chosen for 20 Books appear below. Because I read the first two this summer, I’m counting them. Considering my late start, I probably won’t be able to read them all, and I might subtract some and add others. But then, this is a buffet, and etiquette demands restraint. If I sampled everything, Emily Post would not be amused.
20 Books of Summer Buffet
√A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
My thoughts on Anne Tyler appear here.
√Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
Saw it, liked the cover, bought it. Serendipity.
The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende
I’ve read about half. Delightful.
Semantic Antics: How and Why Words Change Meaning by Sol Steinmetz
White Heat: The Friendship Between Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson by Brenda Wineapple
The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party by Alexander McCall Smith
Dr. Wortle’s School by Anthony Trollope
Time of Fog and Fire by Rhys Bowen
The Autobiography of Mark Twain by Mark Twain
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
*For an informal overview of ROW80, see my post at Austin Mystery Writers. Official information can be found at
Kathy Waller blogs at Telling the Truth, Mainly
and at the Austin Mystery Writers group blog.
Her stories appear in Mysterical-E and in
Austin Mystery Writers’ crime fiction anthology,
Murder on Wheels.