Forget having wash-board abs — this year my primary resolution is to follow my nut. Those of you who have seen either of the animated movies “Ice Age” know what I am talking about. In the movies, there is a crazed little squirrel who chases after this acorn. It perpetually rolls away from him, and each time he is close to reaching it, something happens that stops him. The crazy, determined little squirrel, always chasing after his nut but never attaining it. How he yearns for his nut. How he hates the thought of other people touching his nut. How he reaches for his big, juicy nut. Then, wham, the ice flow breaks, and he watches as his nut floats off from underneath him. You gotta respect that squirrel, because he does not give up. After his nut he goes! This is the perfect metaphor for life and how we should all live it.

For the past couple of years I’ve been struggling with writing a book. Sometimes I stare at my laptop for literally two hours, and at the end, producing only about two sentences. On those occasions, which come often, the idea of flossing my teeth with steel wool seems so much more appealing. On a good day, I feel it in my mind, in my heart, in every atom of my hands, and I type like the devil, trying to catch hold of that feeling and make it last. When elusive Writing Muse appears, I run to her and try to embrace her before she flees, leaving me grasping futily at the air where she had just been. Sometimes, I can ride this current for a while, feeling at once exhilarated and alive, as if I were a real writer. Alive!

Then, I look at what I’d written and place my head on the table, on the point of weeping. Crap. Utter, utter crap, each word reeking of its own inherent horribleness, and together in a sentence the effect is not additive, but exponential in crappiness.

So why do it at all? Why not take up something easier and less stressful, like collecting spoons? Why? Because life is short my friends, and I have a nut, just like you probably have a nut. Men, women, children—we all have nuts. But due to the rigors of life, we tend to ignore our nut, convincing ourselves or letting others convince us that this is not the right nut, that we should follow a pecan when it is really a sweet, buttery macadamia that we want. For me, the writing nut is especially insidious; it is like a feisty invisible hamster that constantly gnaws within one’s soul. I’ve been ignoring it.

But this year, I’ve made it my resolution to sit down and hash out this book, because it’s not how much wood a woodchuck could chuck, but how much wood the woodchuck actually chucks, if the woodchuck would only sit down and chuck the darn wood! So far I’ve abandoned nutrition and hygiene altogether, trading in my social life for the promise of a few barely passable words. And I am starting to doubt my own sanity, which is waning by the second, as you can tell from all these mixed metaphors.

But don’t worry; I will continue to follow my nut. And I encourage you, for 2011, be like that squirrel. Go find your nut and follow it! Maybe we will fail, but what the hell, following that macadamia is in itself something meaningful, even if you end up with peanuts.

As the Writing Muse is my witness, wherever she is, I shall complete this book, or so be it, I shall tear out all my hair in frustration and haunt downtown Seattle like a mad man, lurking in the shadows, one eye twitching uncontrollably, holding a symbolic acorn. My only friend will be a hamster, which I’ll keep in my long overcoat and name Ed. Ed and I and our acorn, downtown Seattle, against the world! We’ll show them, Ed, we’ll show them all!

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