Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Vacuum Cleaner & A Paperweight

Here we are on the eve of a new year and I’m wondering what kind of resolutions I should make for 2009 and what goals I should write on a little piece of paper and stick into the new fancy box I bought for the top of my desk. Last year I wrote the following:

* Finish the novel. (I am really close)
* Get PRO pin. (once I finish the book, I can start down this path)
* Sell 6 Trues. (I sold 10)
* Get in shape. (well…)

As I’ve been contemplating the goals I set last year and the ones I should set for 2009, I’ve seen a remarkable connection between them and the gifts I received for Christmas.

Santa (AKA Mr. Playground Monitor) was quite generous. The first gift I saw when I went into the great room on Christmas morning was a brand new Dyson Ball vacuum cleaner. How thrilling, you say. Well, I did need a new vac. Mine is about 15 years old, is making noises and has been discontinued so I can’t buy replacement filters and parts for it anymore. I’d mentioned to the DH we were going to need a new vac and that I’d LOVE to have a Dyson, since it’s the Rolls Royce of vacuum cleaners.

Apparently he test drove one at the store and was impressed as I, so now I have one. But there’s a very interesting tale here. The story of its inventor, James Dyson, is a lesson in hard work, struggles and ultimate victory. He’s the kind of guy who likes to make things work better. He’s Tim the Toolman Taylor without the grunting, blown fuses and over-engineering.

One of his first inventions was a wheelbarrow with a large ball instead of a wheel. In the factory that manufactured these, he noticed the air filter clogged constantly with powder from the paint. To combat this, he built a cyclone tower that used centrifugal force to remove particles from the air. Five years and 5000+ prototypes later, he’d invented the first bagless vacuum cleaner.

The vacuum cleaner industry wasn’t interested, though, because vacuum cleaner bags were a £250 million a year industry. They turned him away, but he took the design to Japan, the home of all things high tech, and the bright pink G-Force vac caught on. It sold for £2000 and was considered a status symbol. Dyson used the royalties from this machine to manufacture another one under his own name. Through the years he skirted the edge of bankruptcy to keep his patents current and even successfully fought a major US manufacturer in court over patent infringement. Many companies try to copy his design, but the Dyson still remains the benchmark against which all bagless cyclone vacs are measured.

Another item under my tree was a pewter paperweight from my sister. The engraving on it reads “Most things are difficult before they are easy.” Truer words were never spoken. In the process of almost finishing the novel this year, I learned that what I once considered an insurmountable task, is possible. I don’t think writing a novel will ever be easy, but little by little, through practice and perseverance it becomes a little less difficult.

I’m sure James Dyson felt that way too when he was being turned down by major corporations and then later fighting them when they tried to steal the very technology they said wouldn’t work.

So what’s going to be on the paper I put in the box for 2009?

* Finish the novel for real. Close only counts in horseshoes.
* Get my PRO pin.
* Pitch the novel at the RWA conference in July.
* Write more Trues to help fund my way to said conference.
* Start another novel.
* Get in shape. Really.

Every time I suck up dust bunnies and tracked-in dirt, I’m going to remember the man who never gave up. And when I see the paperweight on my desk, I’ll remember not only its message, but my sister who was my biggest cheerleader during NaNoWriMo.

I had another gift under the tree too – a FrothXpress. I’m not aware of any special story behind it and it’s not engraved with any motivational saying. But it sure does make a great latte, and I’ve found that a latte fuels my brain wonderfully when I’m writing. :-)

Tell us about a special gift under your tree – either this year or in years past. What made it special to you? And have you figured out yet what your New Year's resolutions are?

One lucky commenter will be selected to win a copy of the Bylines 2009 Writer’s Desk Calendar that features me on the first full week in January with a short article about – setting goals! Then you can be like Problem Child and me and chronicle your life in a calendar.


Christine said...

I love my dyson... makes cleaning the floors almost painless. Congrats on getting your dyson!!

I have written down getting the PRO pin two years in a row now. The only thing stopping me is my ridiculous aversion to filling out forms and jumping through hoops. But that is on the list again for this year and by golly I will do it! I plan to go to the RWA Conference in July so I want that PRO status before I head there.

New Years Resolutions:

*query more publishing houses with the third book
*revise book two properly
*write book four
*rediscover my diet
*enter more writing contests
*get my Dutch and Canadian passports reinstated so my daughter can have triple citizenship on her college applications (it will take at least a year!)
*go to more writing chapter meetings

What is a Trues?

Margay said...

All gifts I receive are special because they are given to me by people who love me. But I have to say, this year I was happy to get a dvd of Mama Mia (sing along version!) from my older daughter. What can I say, I love Abba!

New Year's resolutions? I started a few years back making a resolution not to make a resolution. They put too much pressure on you. And if you just go into the new year with an open mind and a heart full of love, isn't that all you need?

Liza said...

Last year my dad gave me a new vacuum cleaner(not a dyson...still dreaming for one) and new stainless cookware. It was a really big Christmas for me and he did way too much.

I haven't written down my new years resolutions yet, but I plan on doing it in the morning. I know it will include getting healthy and de-cluttering my house, but not sure of any others yet.

Playground Monitor said...

The "Trues" are a group of magazines -- True Confessions, True Romance, True Experience, True Love and True Story.

I want to have that PRO pin for the conference in July too. Maybe we can keep each other motivated to get it done.

Playground Monitor said...

Margay, I wanted to see the sing-along version in the theater but didn't get there. I did see the regular version and everyone was singing along anyway. Mamma Mia was just a fun movie. Enjoy your new DVD!

Maybe I should call mine goals rather than resolutions. There's still some pressure but...

Playground Monitor said...

De-cluttering -- I have some closets in dire need of de-cluttering. And a desk as well. Remind me to toss junk and I'll do the same, okay?

Problem Child said...

I love my frother -- got one for my birthday and went through a gallon of milk in the first two days!

Things have been so crazy recently, I haven't even thought about my goals for 2009. Hey, I still have a few hours left to work on them!!

Sherry Werth said...

Oooh PM, a Dyson! How nice. I'm all about whatever will make my life easier and free up some of my time so new appliances are always a welcome present for me. I was thrilled to get a new and very large crock pot as one of my gifts this year.

I'm taking my list of life improvements (aka resolutions) very seriously this year. My list will go in a pretty red box positioned according to the Feng Shui/Bagua map you posted a while back. I have the mojo beads you gave me draped across A Writer's Prayer that Debby Giusti sent me sitting beside my computer. I am not leaving anything to chance this year!

Kristen Painter said...

Psst...if this is the same Playground Monitor (because, you know, I'm sure there are tons of that asked about the Master Cleanse, yes it is the one with the lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne.

Anonymous said...

In the past few years I haven't made any new year resolutions. However, I think my resolution for the upcoming year would be:
1. sell my home and get settled in a new one near my family.
2. see my son graduate high school.
3. get my office organized.
4. show more patience with my student workers
Well, here's hoping for me and you ladies.
May everyone have a safe and wonderful beginning to 2009.

Maureen said...

Some years ago my husband gave me a certificate for an automatic starter in my car for Christmas which was a strange present but it has been wonderful over the years to have a heated car ready for me to get into, especially days like today. My goals for this year are to make healthier meals and find some different recipes that we all like that are good for you and exercise more.

Anonymous said...

My my I have been eyeballing the Dyson for a while now, but no one could tell me about them!! I have a short-haired chihuahua that technically should be bald from all the hair he loses!! Anyway, my New Years goals are to make a lifestyle change(because diet just isn't cutting it!), devote more time to my relationship with God, and stop sweating the "stuff" that bogged me down this year!! I may even get back to writing my poetry-who knows!! Oh, and I can never forget the de-cluttering, since it has escaped the closets and is trying to take over my house!! Have a wonderful day ladies!!

Sheryl M.

Liza said...

I think we could start a support group for everyone who needs to de-clutter. I'm all in on the reminders.

Smarty Pants said...

I got a Wii Fit and the Jillian Michaels game/workout to go with it, so my neverending quest to get back into my size 12 jeans continues.

I want a Dyson, but DB always makes fun of me when I ask for it. He says it doesn't matter what vacuum I have since I never use it. Grr...

Christine said...

We love the Wii Fit. We got it for Christmas along with the Wii. It was our family present. Last night my hubby and I bowled a bunch of games on the sports package and joked about how at least we were standing up and drinking instead of sitting down.

Every little change makes a difference.

Christine said...


Give the Dyson to the husband, Smarty Pants. He'll enjoy the geek factor for sure. And then he'll vacuum for you.

Angel said...

Tomorrow is my day to sit down and think through my new year's resolutions. Tonight I'm going to party. :)

I love that quote. That may become my new favorite.


PS My word verification is imble--I'm able?

PM's Mother said...

You didn't think the year would end without hearing from me did you?

There is one thing better than a Dyson..and that's a house cleaner (I speak from experience.)

At almost 82 I just don't make new year's resolutions anymore. I just aim to get through another year without any health problems, although I do need to lose weight.
(No resolution to do so.)

What's a PRO pin?

Your Mother

Christine said...

PMs Mom: a pro pin is something a writer receives from Romance Writers of America if the writer finishes a book, queries it to publishers, is rejected (blah) and then she/he sends all this info to RWA and RWA rewards their rejection by giving them a professional writing status. PRO allows us to see and do more at the National level and hooks us up with other serious writers.

I could have had one 4 years ago with the first book I wrote and rejected, but as I said, I am allergic to forms and filling them out.

This year I plan to nip that aversion in the bud!

Happy New Year!