Admission: A lot of what I have done in my life I have done because someone has told me to. Or at least it feels that way. I am 31 years old. I have a great life. But right now, I feel like I could be doing better. I could be living bigger, more boldly, making a bigger impact. I could be acting and speaking more honestly, saying what I mean and living in a manner that brings me closer to my dream. I do the right thing. I am kind to others. I work hard. But I could be holding myself to a higher level of personal integrity.
So, I am going to be tackling each aspect of my life, noting what’s good and for what I can give myself credit, a little pat on the back. Then I am going to step back, take a hard look at what I could be doing better. I am going to figure out what I really want. I’ll outline my goals and then come up with actions that will help me achieve them. Along the way, I’ll consume mass quantities of literature and media that promise to tell me how to make a change. I’ll start with my writing, just because it’s easy to give myself quantifiable assignments. And I don’t want to put my writing aside as I embark on my leap year. So…
Here’s where I stand now:
I wrote a novel. It’s called The Before Chronicles. I wrote it. Then I got an agent. Then I rewrote it, at his suggestion, with the help of an editor I hired on my own. I am happy with it. I learned a lot by working one-on-one with a professional. It hasn’t sold yet. I wrote a second novel during National Novel Writing Month in November 2008. I rewrote it. I am rewriting it a third time. Last year, I wrote three articles for Forbes.com. I have been blogging intermittently about nothing in particular on a blog that no one reads, except my mother and my friends Courtney and Kim.
Now I am supposed to outline what went well, and what didn’t go so well. I guess I can give myself credit for rewriting The Before Chronicles, and giving it that title…before it was called something like “The As-Yet-Unpublished Young Adult Novel Wherein Ruby Jaikes Gets Her Boobs Reduced,” (Not really. But I am about as bad as that when it comes to summing things up in a meaningful heading.) I made the commitment to work with the editor and I saw it through. I did some freelance writing that I got through a friend of mine. I pitched ideas, found sources, and wrote articles that were featured on Forbes.com. One was even syndicated to many other sites. For a spell, I was a journalist. Yeah, I feel weird writing these things that I think I did well.
The second part should be easier: where I fell short. The sale or non-sale of The Before Chronicles was not within my control. So according to the people who set forth these types of activities, I can’t really claim it as a task wherein I failed. Though it feels a little bit like a fail. Setting that aside, I didn’t have measureable goals. My sneaky brain would say that if I didn’t have any goals that I didn’t really fail at anything. I hold that I failed by not making any goals and not being organized in my approach, my assignments, and my deadlines for myself. I didn’t really give myself anything for which to strive. Also, my friend Courtney told me to start blogging, so I did. But I did so intermittently for a few months, and then I lost interest. I didn’t give myself specific word-counts or post-counts to reach, or a number of hours to devote to writing. This is something I can do this year.
I hold down a full time job. I share a studio apartment with another person. We have a television. It is on a lot. I have a messy old desk and printer that serves as a shelf more often than it actually prints things. These are just some of my excuses.
But, I know I can do better. I can come up with some directives for myself to help me do better. Still, it feels like something is missing. It feels like I am asking “why?” I always wonder this. And, admittedly, the wonder was augmented by a degree of superiority when I had the thought: most people go to work, come home, sit in front of the television. How come I can’t do that? How come they can? I am not there yet. I lack a sense of peace, I think. I have too much energy… shpilkes, if you will. There are probably a lot of reasons I feel the need to write: to be heard (do I really have anything all that interesting or important to say?), to let out the entire communities that live in my head, because I just really like it.
My next step here will be to outline some writing goals for 2010. But something interesting has come up in my brain dump here…all the categories (personal space, spirituality, business, relationships) play into my perceived success as a writer, or my success in my pursuits as a writer. It’ll be interesting to see how they interplay as my leap year gets further underway.