Tabula Rasa. Today.Posted: December 31, 2007
It’s that time of year again — the last day of the old, ticking toward the first day of the new. A new chance. Tabula rasa. Blank slate. I can start afresh. What I didn’t do last year, I can strive for this year. Or I can simply build on things that I started in previous years.
I admit I do make New Year’s Resolutions. Sometimes. I didn’t last year. The year 2007 was the first year my father didn’t cross over into, and my mind wasn’t on setting goals for myself. So if I accomplished anything in 2007, I don’t know what it was.
If I do make resolutions, I do tend to keep them, for the most part.
This is where my husband and two sons will roar, “Of course, you do. You are perfect!”
I open my old, tan leather journal to its first gilded page: Jan. 1, 2005. My eyes move to the end of the entry for that day, where it says “New Year’s Resolutions,” underlined. I’d listed seven and then commented, “I do not want to let anything get in the way of my goals.” I kept them all that year. Number One catches my eye.
1. Write a column/essay [creative nonfiction] each week for Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal.
Check! Did that. In fact, I did it all of 2005, 2006, and 2007 and have about 135 essays archived.
I skip down to the entry for Jan. 12, 2005. “I ran across Brevity on the Creative Nonfiction website — ‘extremely brief literary nonfiction of a crisp, concise 750 words or less, focusing on detail and scene over thought and opinion.’ That’s what I wanted to write this year [in the weekly MLASJ essay] without knowing it existed anywhere else.”
In 2008, this new blog will take the place of the essays written under unCorked! in MLASJ. (A-ha! That’s one thing I achieved during 2007. I started a blog!)
In 2008, I will attend two workshops led by Brevity editor Dinty W. Moore, during the Mid-South Creative Nonfiction Writers Conference: “Manuscript Workshop with Dinty W. Moore” and “The Art and Craft of Characterization in Memoir.”
I’m already marking on my slate for 2008 — pictured in my mind as the kind of toy slate I used to get in elementary school as a Christmas present from teachers or as a birthday party favor. It had colorful cartoon pictures around the cardboard edges, a thin red wooden pencil, and a clear plastic sheet to lift away from the black base and erase the words I’d written or the pictures I’d drawn. I like to think I’ve slowly pulled up that sheet, hearing the crackle of plastic, and made all the old markings disappear, and maybe I can do better with what I draw or write next.