|Photo by Markybon|
I live in the South, where asking people to drive in snow and ice is like asking a cat to walk when he's wearing a collar for the first time--a combination of tragic and hilarious. I don't claim to be much better, though I do know which way to turn the wheel if I start to slide. I wasn't surprised when, halfway to work, traffic slowed to a crawl.
I spotted flashing lights, but the smell of gasoline was the first indicator this wasn't the usual fender-bender. When my lane stopped, I glanced between the inching cars. The blackened husk of an overturned car steamed from inside a ring of emergency vehicles by the side of the road. There was no fire anymore, but it was clear the car had been blazing not too long before, though the shape of it was mostly intact. I hoped the driver and any passengers had made it out.
It was suddenly strange to think my largest concern not ten hours before was whether I could stay in my pajamas. Someone else has lost a car, possibly lost a love one; my day-to-day concerns can't compare to that. What if it had been me in that car? Would I be satisfied with my last petty concerns? Everything changes in an instant.
That sobering understanding got me thinking. I need to improve my way of living, because I don't want to have any regrets should my instant come. That may seem morbid to some, but when you're unhappy with how things stand in your life, the thought of not having the opportunity to change it is a bitter but strong motivation.
2012 saw two of the worst creative crashes I've ever had, brought on by my inability to adjust to a demanding work schedule and maintain a level of creativity I was happy with. I bit off more than I could chew, and I choked on it. Twice.
I began to doubt my ability to write well enough, revise fast enough, be organized enough to ever publish. I warred against a self-image no longer reflected in the 35 lbs I gained since leaving Japan or the skin problems I'd never had as a teen. I was too tired to write when I got home, but too busy trying to write to take care of myself or contribute to the chores at home consistently, which made me feel like a wretched slob.
I started personal training. It went well for a few months. I started Fit-2-Write. We managed three episodes before I hit my first crash.
I was scheduling every part of my day down to my two 15-minute breaks at work. I was doing two personal training lessons a week after work, D&D on a third, and trying to edit and post two podcasts. Also, I went to StellarCon, ConCarolinas, Sammy's wedding, and BaltiCon all before May. Saturday mornings, I was taking a class on Google+ with Cat Rambo. I was trying to revise the first 100 pages of The Mark if Flight, write a short story, read and comment on two short stories a week, update my blog, and plan out my next book and the revisions for HELLHOUND.
Then this happened: Do You Want to Do My Laundry?
Despite the playful tone, this post was coming on the back of a serious meltdown after a couple of major disappointments. I felt like I would never "get it together". I still feel like that.
I dropped everything, and when I'd finally stopped crying log enough to look at the detritus at my feet, I had no idea how to pick it all back up again. I'd latch onto something, wade a couple feet through the rest, and drop it again. I couldn't let go of any of it, but I couldn't figure out how to clean the mess of my creative life without shoving it all to the curb.
It was tough to fish out the things that mattered to me the most, and I felt unspeakably guilty for letting the others rest.
At the same time, 2012 was a year of many steps forward: I gained what felt like a whole new world of friends after meeting the other folks in the podcasting community face-to-face at BaltiCon. I hammered out two short stories, a novelette, the first six chapters of a new book, and yet another opening for The Mark of Flight, which is now beginning to resemble something like a pretty good book. I made a carved leather hat that actually looked like what I had in mind. I asked to be on panels at StellarCon and BaltiCon and was accepted. I was invited to attend and speak at New Media Expo. I took a couple of trips by myself and with friends, just because. I started kayaking again, bought a bike, and got a new car that makes me super happy.
That said, I refuse to have another year where the lows are as low as 2012's. So I did some soul-searching and tried to figure out what goals I could make this year that would help me live with fewer regrets. I'll split them up into personal and creative.
- Get healthier - exercise, eat better, figure out the energy situation, ride my bike, relax
- Go out and do things. With other human beings. And not just because I can use it in a story someday.
- Spend more time outside doing things I enjoy, like biking or kayaking or camping.
- Do more to maintain the apartment
- Consistently pay all bills on time
- Pay down credit card
- Fill the well
- Worry less about 'making it'
- Chill, before this shit gives me heart problems
- Finish first draft of Heretic's Resonance
- Get Pendragon Variety - Issue#1 released
- Make Season 2 of Pendragon Variety
- Keep making friends who are awesome, supportive, and inspiring
- Query MoF
- Read more
I don't know if I'll be able to do all these things, and I'm almost certain I won't do them consistently. There's a certain measure of cognitive dissonance to pursuing your dreams during an economic recession. Last year it was cacophony. This year, we're gonna try to find the right key.
What are your personal and creative goals for 2013? Did you suffer any setbacks or disappointments last year? What improvements do you want to make?