I’m a little late to the game this year (what else is new!) but I still wanted to take the time to talk about goals and resolutions. I totally understand those people who think making New Year’s Resolutions is a waste of time — after all, why not just keep focused on your goals all year long? I do somewhat agree with that but the same time, I really love the start of a new year because I enjoy stepping back from the bustle of life and really thinking about where I’ve been, where I am, and where I want to be.
The 2011 Recap:
As I mentioned in my goals post last year, several years ago I felt like I wasn’t taking enough steps to go after my dreams of getting published. I didn’t have any finished projects, I hadn’t submitted anything, and I worried that I was spinning my wheels. In an effort to prove to myself that I was actually making some forward progress, I counted up the number of words I’d written that year. That number became my proof that I was working, I was writing, and I should pat myself on the back. Thus started my yearly cumulative word-count tally tradition 🙂
So, counting up all the short stories, books, and random bits of fiction drafts (many deleted), my grand total of words written in 2011 is…. 361,952.
How does that break down? In 2011 I wrote three books, six short stories, and one proposal. I also edited an anthology. It’s funny, because if you’d asked me before I wrote this post how I felt about my work in 2011 I’d have probably told you I should have worked harder/written more. And maybe that’s true, but now that I’m looking at those numbers I’m feeling pretty proud!
I’m also pretty proud that 2011 marked a year in which I started to branch out and try new things, even if they were a bit daunting. The two biggest projects that come to mind are editing the anthology and writing a Middle Grade — both of which will be coming out Fall 2012. Another big milestone of this year came somewhat unexpectedly — the film production company that optioned The Forest of Hands and Teeth actually exercised said option. From what I’ve been told that’s a pretty big step (but I’m still not holding my breath – lol!).
I never did post online my overarching goals for 2011 thought I do have them in a document on my computer. One of my goals was to really focus on reading more and reading widely. There were times I slipped up on this but overall I’m really pleased at how much I’ve incorporated reading into my daily routine. I’ve actually started reading in the morning a lot which really works for me (depending on what I have to do that day). I also added more adult books to my list, indulged in a favorite genre (regency romance), branched out into more middle grade, dabbled in some non-fiction/memoir and just generally read what I wanted to, not what I felt like I needed to (ok, I did read some books that I felt I needed to, but those didn’t dominate the way they had in the past).
One place I fell down on the job was aspects of social media. I LOVE Twitter and that’s where I spent most of my time this year — no regrets about that at all! However, I fell down on the job with my blog. On the one hand, I saw this coming — it’s been harder and harder for me to keep up with it for all sorts of boring reasons but I admit that I miss having that online journal so I can look back and see ‘real-time’ what I was thinking/doing. I still haven’t decided how I want to work social media into my 2012 goals. So far, after taking a break over the holidays, I haven’t been as active as I used to be. This makes me sad, but also a little less hectic.
Speaking of 2012 goals! Here are mine:
I have several releases this year and one goal is to make sure I’m doing a good job getting the word out on them. There are two books:
And five short stories (some of these might be out 2013):
“The Dream Eater” in Brave New Love
“After the Cure” in After
“The Killing Game” in Foretold
“Miasma” in Shards & Ashes
“Almost Normal” in Defy the Dark.
I’m crazy thrilled about all the projects on my plate! Unfortunately, I can’t say much about them. But I can say that I decided I want 2012 to be a year I stretch myself and dedicate myself. It’s a bit daunting and scary but also very exciting 🙂 A related goal is not to get too overwhelmed and feel like everything must be “now now now!” It’s okay to take the time you need!
Last year I sat by my step-father’s bed as he passed away from COPD. There was a part of me that was very frustrated and angry because his death seemed so directly tied to the fact that he’d smoked for much of his life. It made me very very aware of the fact that how we live our lives can really have a lasting impact. I resolved to take a look at my own life and change what I could so that I didn’t end up in the same situation.
The first step of that goal was going to a doctor and getting a physical. I put this off for most of the year but am happy to say that in the fall I really started addressing those issues and have re-dedicated myself to this resolution. For the first time in a long while I feel like I’m actively addressing health issues and working toward a healthier me.
Another resolution this year is to reclaim more of my personal time. Because I love my job and I work from home, it’s really easy to always be working. There are times (like deadlines) when this is just going to be the case. But there are other times you need to put down the computer and walk away. I’ve definitely been working on this — it’s difficult to stop work when there are still tasks on the to-do list but I’m learning that such is life.
I’m also trying to work on some de-cluttering. My family jokes that I have separation anxiety which is why I never throw anything away and they’re probably partially right. The other month I was in the attic looking for something and came across old shirts from when I was in high school. I thought, “Really, I’m never wearing these again — why not toss/donate them?” But then a part of me remembered every time I’d worn each shirt. There were so many memories that surfaced only when I was holding them — that’s hard to give up! So the goal there is to work at it in slow chunks every day. When I hit that indecisive “should I keep/get rid of” I’d like to err on the side of the latter more often than not. We’ll see how that goes 🙂 However, I can report having tackled two rooms in the house (at least a first sweep that resulted in several bags of clothes heading off to the donation bin).
A corollary to the above is that I want to take care of some of the neglected maintenance around the house — I can happily report that’s already started!
So there you have it! I’ve written before about how I thought life would be when I began writing full time — the kind of schedule I’d have, etc — and how life has looked nothing like that ideal. I realized this year that that doesn’t mean I couldn’t strive to get closer to that ideal. I definitely know it will take time and I’m willing to be patient. I think that’s where a lot of people fall down on resolutions — they expect that radical changes will produce immediate and radical results. I’m more of the philosophy that you make sustainable life-style shifts and eventually the results will roll in.
We shall see 🙂
What is all comes down to is that I think sometimes we can live our life so day to day that we fail to look up and ask ourselves, “Is this what I intended?” This is actually a theme I play with a lot in my novels because, frankly, it terrifies me. I’ve even blogged about it before here. I began writing seriously because 6 years ago I looked up from my life as a lawyer and decided that’s not what I wanted and so I made changes. Once again, I choose to look up this year, look around and ask if this is what I intended and fix what isn’t working. And lest anyone wonder if that means I’m questioning being a writer — no. I adore this gig with every fiber of my being 🙂 Even the days I keep my head down and plow through, I recognize how amazingly lucky I am to be doing this.
So, I know most of y’all posted your goals last month so I’m not going to ask you to repeat those. But I think I will ask if any of you (a) remember your goals for this past year and (b) achieved any of them and (c) why or why not Or if you’ve ever had an experience where you looked up and decided to make a change and how that worked out. And of course, if you have any tips on de-cluttering, let me know 🙂