- by Susan Aylworth
The Old Year has hobbled off, the New has crawled onstage and it’s time to put new resolutions into effect – or, if you’re like me, to dust off the old ones. An excellent example is my January weight loss plan that seldom makes it into February. This year, instead of the 25 pounds I’m always planning to lose, I’m working on 30. Ah well.
Then there are the resolutions to keep my house clean, get organized, put more money into savings, tra-la, tra-la. We all know and love those resolutions that are tougher than they seem and often take lifetimes of work before we achieve them – or give up trying.
So what kinds of resolutions does a working writer make and how does she go about keeping them? Don’t ask me. I’ve never been any better at the “career planning” writers discuss at conferences than I am at weight loss. However, because I believe in new starts and second chances, I decided that for 2011, I was going to give myself a head start. Literally. I built my list of new resolutions, and started the underpinning for each of them, in the autumn months of last year.
My new career plan began with the culmination of a life-long dream, a “vacation of a lifetime” for the dh and me. I was standing in the shadows of the Church of Orsanmichele in Florence as our guide described how the working grain market had become a church. Then, in the eye of my imagination, I saw a young girl walk in from the street, kneel to the altar, and go about purchasing grain for her master’s household. By our next stop, I realized she worked in the House of the Medici. I was hooked.
Our vacation ended, as dreamtimes always do, and we returned to our everyday working life, but I returned with new purpose – to know that young woman and the household where she worked and to tell her story with the passion and life it deserves. I’ve already purchased a half-dozen research books on the Medicis and the Renaissance, and I’ve begun building a timeline. I’ve started a language course to learn to use Italian as well, since who knows when I might need to return there – strictly for research purposes?
I have a schedule, a plan, and the beginnings of a story. The true life saga of Lorenzo de Medici, a.k.a. Il Magnifico, is a more opulent and dramatic background than any I could possibly make up, and I have the richness of the Italian Renaissance to fill in the edges. So what’s not to love?
Of course, in the meantime, there is the current work-in-progress. A Christmas Recipe is about an old woman’s plans to use holiday traditions to mend a broken family. It deserves some careful telling as well. There is also the regular day job and the business of keeping a family functioning.
In the midst of such chaos, even well-laid plans can easily drift away. Witness the January weight loss plan that revives anew each year. Still I have a hunch that this young woman isn’t going anywhere until her story has been properly told. I love it when my characters are even more resolved than I am.