. . . and I won't borrow yours.
It's that time of year again--a new year, a new beginning, time to start fresh, begin anew, etc.
Resolution time, if you're into that sort of thing.
Time to once again measure ourselves against whatever yardstick applies. Some measuring sticks are pretty standardized--is your BMI in the healthy range? How's your cholesterol, your blood pressure, your blood sugar? Bringing these health measurements within the medically approved standards accounts for a number of New Year's resolutions, but at least the ranges and limits have some scientific backing (at least until the next bit of groundbreaking medical news comes to light). We don't set the standards, but our own results are, to some extent at least, within our control.
So, too, are many of the other yardsticks people drag out on Jan. 1st--be better organized, keep better records, stop smoking, start exercising, swear less, call Mom more . . . I could go on (and on :-)), but I'll spare you. You know the drill as well as I do.
However, there are many other ways we measure ourselves--our degree(s) of success, whether we believe we're working hard or hardly working (and all the variations in between) . . . If only we could do more, do better--if only, if only, if only . . .
If only I compare myself to you . . . or maybe you over there. You, the person who has it all together. We all know you, or someone like you--your house is clean, your laundry done (and ironed!), your kids always finish their homework without being told and never lose a book or forget a permission slip. Since you're one of us--a writer--you also write a minimum of two chapters every day, 24/7/365 (none of which needs a bit of revision or editing), your editor loves every idea you pitch and never rejects anything you send her, agents are falling over each other in a bid to add you to their client list, you final in every contest you enter and make every bestseller list in the continental US (and a few foreign ones, as well). You always know which hat you're wearing, and you never break a sweat as you effortlessly switch one piece of headgear for another.
You're that person who can make me feel like a failure, as if I'm lacking in some way because I can't keep up with the sterling examples of perfection you set. You're Romance Writer Barbie, Superwoman . . . a goddess from on high. If I measure myself by your yardstick, I'm probably never going to measure up.
Which would be a shame, since you don't actually exist. I can never know every detail of what makes up your yardstick, any more than you can truly know what goes into mine. Yours won't be of any use to me whatsoever--unless I want to torture myself and set myself up for failure. As writers we know POV is important--what is revealed, what is tucked away out of sight, all the motivations that form our inner and outer selves. The scale I use to measure myself changes a bit each and every moment, shifting and adjusting for my life's ups and downs (see, this does relate to today's topic :-)). It's as fluid as a river, and just as a river changes course and charts new territory to account for the obstacles in its path, I need to accept that sometimes things don't work out as I planned, figure out a way to learn from my mistakes, set new goals, keep on moving. I can only be a failure if I accept that something didn't work, then sit there and feel sorry for myself instead of adjusting the scale on my yardstick and starting over again.
Am I telling you not to make resolutions, set goals (both personal and professional), or expect anything of yourself? Never--none us got where we are today by doing that! We're published authors, people who have succeeded in a business that's not for sissies or the faint of heart. When we're knocked on our backsides (or flat on our backs), we somehow find the strength to pull ourselves to our feet and give it another shot.
Due a series of events I couldn't (and certainly wouldn't) have made up if I tried, today is my "new year"; my resolution is to only use my own yardstick to measure up my life. Otherwise I'll just make myself crazy and not get anywhere at all. I'll keep my hands off your yardstick--for both our sakes, please keep your hands off mine.