Sunday 1 January 2012

A New Year Dawns

It is now New Year's Day, the first day of yet another new year, albeit one with the added bonus of an extra day. Of course, if you believe the conspiracy theorists, one extra day won't make up for losing most of the year due to catastrophe, but I tend not to subscribe to the peculiar cultural phenomenon of conspiracy theories. Therefore, the obligatory 'New Year' post beckons. It's almost de rigeur if you have your own blog to witter on about the new year at some point, with some devoted to ill-thought out resolutions, others dedicated to where the word 'January' comes from, and yet more considering torn between a discussion of what went on in 2011, and what they hope will happen in 2012. With that in mind, I thought long and hard about the content of this post, and I didn't particularly want to roll out a list of "this is what I did in 2011". It would be fairly straightforward, and look something like this;
  • Got accepted onto a PhD programme, and began work on said PhD.
  • Quit my job as an office manager in London and moved back home to the North East.
  • Got another job teaching graphic design software on a part time basis.
  • Had a book published, and had stories appear elsewhere.
  • Took up ghost hunting.
  • Started up my own email newsletter (subscribe here, if you want)
Dull, huh? Instead of doing that, but on a grander scale,  I decided to have a look at what I wrote at the start of 2011. It turns out that in my New Year post, I chose three words that I wanted to use to 'signify' the coming year. I chose Acceptance, Create, and Silence. Now, considering I had several stories published (both online and in print) and my pulp Western novella, The Guns of Retribution, was picked up and published by Pulp Press, then I guess you could say that superficially, I did quite well with Acceptance. However, I'm still utterly incapable of accepting certain things, both about myself and the human race, so I think that my mark for Acceptance should probably be "Good effort, could try harder." As for Create...well, that one is a no-brainer - I created stuff all year long, be it stories, knitting projects, digital artwork, etc. So that's a big green tick in that box. As for Silence, I didn't spend much time doing nothing, and I spent the latter part of the year running too close to burn out for my liking, so again, big 'Fail' for me on that front.

But I think I'd like to do the same again for 2012. I'll no doubt forget all about the endeavour by the end of the week, but at least I've made the effort, yes? So what three words will I choose that I hope will sum up my coming year?

I think anyone who's followed me on Twitter knows I have my 'off' days, and yes, I do have days when I consider throwing in the towel. But that runs so far counter to my stubborn streak that it borders on uncharacteristic, so I'm choosing Perseverance. No matter how many bad reviews I get, no matter how many times a story just won't come together, I'll keep going, even if it means putting a work to one side for a while and coming back to it later. I will just keep going.

For someone so grounded in practicality, I can be terribly flighty, skipping from one project to another. I think it's the illusion that the more things I have on the go, the more I'm getting done, but all I'm really doing is using one thing to procrastinate so I don't have to do another. I need to start committing to what I'm doing, so if I decide to spend an hour reading a text for my PhD, then that's what I'll do - I can check Twitter or play Warcraft when that hour is up. Likewise I need to stop starting a project, only to start world building for the next one before I'm even halfway through. One at a time, please.

Silence didn't work for me last year, but I'm taking a different tack this year. I tend to overreact to things I think are going to be more problematic than they turn out to be, and I find it difficult to sit and relax. Naturally that makes it difficult to get anything done if I'm constantly wound up, so I intend to build a short portion of relaxation time into my life. Whether that's playing video games, listening to Mozart, or simply reading a good book, it's a time to let my brain unwind and my batteries recharge.

Anyone else got any words they want to use for 2012?


Larry Kollar said...

This sounds like me: I need to stop starting a project, only to start world building for the next one before I'm even halfway through. One at a time, please. Although when you're truly hung on one project, it's nice to make some progress instead of staring at a blank screen going "c'mon, c'mon dammit."

I think the word I'm going to use is Control. Take control of my life, instead of letting family & in-laws dictate my every waking moment and devoting the crumbs to writing. Take control of my writing, not waiting for the characters to tell me what happens. I've found if I push a couple hundred words through the keyboard, the next 800 flow out without my much thinking about it. If I'm the ersatz Creator of my sketchy little universes, I need to start acting like it.

Happy New Year, and much success, to you!

Tom said...

I think we have Control of our lives whatever we do with it. We have control over whether we do what we set out to do, and control over whether we don't.

Perseverance can sometimes keep us from doing what we ought to give up because it's not right for us.

I think Procrastination is simply a sign that we have chosen goals which aren't right for us. Our inner compass acts to prevent us from taking this incorrect action, hence procrastination.

Calm is being at ease with ourselves. Not having a telly helps me here, although I do keep up with a couple of programmes, e.g. "Have I Got News For You" on the iPlayer. People stress about things they've watched on the News, etc, and I'm happily ignorant of it all. I do care. I just don't stress.

As for making plans for the year. I think the important thing is "making the plans" because this stimulates creativity. You might not meet all your plans, but you'll achieve other ones. Plans which are flexible are more productive.

Anonymous said...

Excellent list, Icy. I love the personal goals your setting for yourself. They're so much more rewarding than just "lose ten pounds" or whatever. I wish the best this new year!

Icy Sedgwick said...

FAR - Thank you!

Tom - They're choices I've picked for personal reasons and I wanted to share them - I wasn't looking for advice.

Danni - I never keep resolutions but I'm more inclined to try to meet goals.

Tony Noland said...

The commitment to writing you spoke of is one that I'm working on, too. 2011 was a better year for me in that regard; more and more often, I made a conscious decision to turn off twitter and all other distractions and focus on the task of the moment. It took some doing, but the practice has paid off in a lot of things actually accomplished, rather than still on the TO DO list.

Best wishes for meeting all your goals in 2012, Icy.

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