Posts Tagged ‘2011’

…and I wonder if I’ll ever get better. Well, there’s always try, I guess.

Today is the final day of 2011. A year that, by all accounts, I’d rather forget. But a year that ultimately taught me how I don’t want to live. Of course, change is the hard part.

However, I have much to be thankful for too. Particularly, more fiction writing than I have ever had to show for any one year of my life. A serial novel – the prospect of which still scares the crap out of me even though it is launching tomorrow – that wasn’t yet a twinkle in my eye twelve months ago.

This is going to sound terrible, I know that, even though it was well-intentioned. But in many ways I was raised to believe that I would fail in any creative endeavour I attempted. This conditioning was supposed to channel my intelligence towards medicine or law or whatever, but all it ultimately did was mould me into a desperately creative person with failure issues to the point of neurosis. It’s a little embarrassing to admit that, but it’s part of the truth of who I am.

I know some of you are going to say, “but you’re so confident and successful.” And I say, to a point. I still have to slay the self-doubt dragon each and every day. And doing to a certain degree is a necessity for survival.

I’m been writing fiction in secret for years, and maybe that’s another reason why I never finished any of the novels, because I knew I’d never have the courage to show them to anyone, so no matter how much I loved doing it, it seemed pointless.

That’s the other thing this past year taught me, that I don’t want to be so afraid anymore and certainly not based on something that was said to me more than a half a lifetime ago. I want to get past that, so I can live whatever life I was meant to live.

I mean this in regards to my writing and the bigger picture as well.

My only resolution is to continue this journey I’m on in 2012.

Because at the end awaits something like freedom.

When 2011 began my best friend and I felt as if we were about to share a magnificent adventure together. By my birthday at the beginning of March those plans were in ruins, and we found ourselves on different and arguably much more difficult personal journeys than I think either of us had expected.

 For me, the incredibly gut-wrenching months that kicked off 2011 led to more soul-searching than I have done in years. I realized that it was high time to reassess my wants, needs, dreams and failures, and make a positive plan for the future. A plan that included me.

 And, surprisingly, the most important thing that came out of being forced to focus on myself was the realization of how little I did that in my day-to-day life. For years now, all my other responsibilities have come before my responsibility to myself. My personal priorities have always ranked last on the to-do list. And, believe it or not, I never stopped to think what effect that might be having on my emotional well-being. As it turns out, it was making me unhappy and much more prone to burnout.

 Something needed to be done. Something that would actually work.

 So once I got my clean bill of health, I set upon changing my life. Of course, I’ve tried these sorts of overhauls in the past with only limited success. This time I needed to take a different approach. To try to change everything at once would ultimately change nothing. New habits needed to be broken in one at a time. Hence, my thirty-day plan. (Popular wisdom suggests it takes thirty days for a new habit to become rote.)

 But where to begin? That choice ended up being remarkably easy. My biggest regret has always been not having enough time to write creatively. I’d get on a good tear with the YA novel, then production would hit at Rue Morgue or a Burning Effigy release date would approach and I’d drop my own writing entirely just to facilitate getting that other stuff done. Then afterwards it would be hard to go back to the novel because by then all momentum had been lost.

 So I began with making a commitment to myself. One hour each weekday (either from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., or 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.) would be “me” time to work on the novel. During that time, I’d write whether I felt like it or not, until the thing was done. And my beta reader would hold me accountable for delivering new pages each day. I’m proud to say, it’s worked like a charm. I needn’t even have worried about what I would do if I suffered writer’s block because I don’t. That one hour has quickly become the most anticipated and sacred part of my day. I also challenged myself to work chronologically on the book for as long as possible, and even that’s turning out better than expected. Just over two weeks into my new habit, I have nearly 40 solid pages of first draft to show for my efforts. And my story is evolving and solidifying faster than I can churn out the words.

 The best change, however, has been the return of my personal happiness. I love my job and my press, but somewhere along the way I forgot to love myself. And while I wouldn’t wish what I went through at the beginning of this year on anyone, I’m very thankful now for every horrible moment of it, because if none of that had happened I doubt I would have found the courage or the commitment to embark on changing my life, even just one hour at a time.


Stuff I Wrote