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So This is 2012

January 19, 2012 at 10:29 am

I'm not the kind of person who makes New Year's resolutions.

The very idea depresses me.  If personal resolutions work for other people, encouraging them to strive for self-betterment or greater personal success, that's terrific.  And I can certainly understand the urge to make a new start as the calendar rolls over.  I'm not immune to the personal and aesthetic appeal of a clean slate.  But I don't make resolutions. 

Why not?  It's really pretty simple.  I'm constantly setting goals and personal milestones for myself: constantly trying to find ways to live my life that will make me feel as though I'm improving as a human being, as an adult, as a neighbor, a friend. 

And I perpetually fail to achieve those goals.  I have a tendency to hold myself to a standard I can't achieve, much less maintain.  

Small goals, sure, those I can handle.  Telling myself I'll write X number of pages before I let myself make a snack.  Promising myself I'll not forget to pick up a carton of milk on the way home.  Forcing myself to limit the number of Community back episodes I watch so that I can hit the sack at a decent hour.  I do okay with minuscule efforts of that nature. 

But I tend to let myself down when it comes to meatier goals. I don't think it's a matter of my inability to do things, or to work hard.  My problem is an inability to set realistic goals.  Part of me knows that it's just plain silly to tell myself that I'm going to write two short stories AND make major progress on my novel during a single week of vacation.  It's crazy; I don't multitask well, and I don't write as quickly as that would require.  And yet I can't stop holding myself to impossible standards. 

So, for me, setting New Year's resolutions is a little pointless.  I'm constantly falling short of old resolutions and devising new ones. 

It's weird, too, because I'm fairly happy with where I am in my life.  It's not as though I feel like my life is such an enormous failure, such a tragic waste of oxygen, that I feel the need to redeem my existence through excessive personal betterment.  (Maybe it is.  I can't say.  It's hard to gain perspective when you're living inside the fishbowl.)  I have found, over the years, that I hate the sensation of living a static life.  I don't like it when I'm not working toward something.  For a long time, school provided a clear path and clear goal.  After the student stage of my life came to a conclusion, though, I had to find new short, medium, and long-term goals for myself.   I've managed to do that, although the goals are more varied.  My life is more multifaceted than it was 10 years ago.  I'm very fortunate to have a full-time job that enables me to live comfortably with food on the table and a roof over my head.  And I'm also extremely lucky to have a second job that brings me, if not exactly tangible wealth, a tremendous sense of personal accomplishment.  My day-job career generates its own goals and personal promises to myself, but the writing side of my life is where I scratch that itch to stretch and strive and push myself.

Rereading this post, it seems oddly maudlin to me.  Strange.  That's not how I feel.  If anything, I have high hopes for 2012.  I'm delighted that this year has finally arrived.  When I woke up on January 1st, I realized that hey, this is the year I will finally have new books out: paperback editions, audio editions, hardcovers and ebooks and even foreign editions.  And that was a very pleasant way to start the year, in light of all the publishing turmoil during the previous 2 years.

Less than three weeks in, this year is off to an exciting start with the audio release of The Coldest War.  And I've recently turned a corner in my new novel project, such that I'm seeing the project with new eyes and excitement.  Even though I've been living with the new project for a number of months now, I still haven't hit the usual point where I start to loathe it.  That's unusual.  I tend to hate everything I write.  But this new thing may contain some of my favorite work.  I'll finish it this spring.  That alone is thrilling to me—I haven't written so many novels that finishing one doesn't feel noteworthy.  And then I'll get to spend some time brainstorming over possibilities for new novel projects.  That's a very fun, very exciting feeling, too.

So, yeah.  I'm pretty jazzed about 2012.  And the Mayan Calendar Apocalypse be damned, I say.

Comments

Brit January 19, 2012 at 9:45 pm
Thumbs up for progress! Congrats on the new project, & on the audiobook, & everything else that'll be happening this year.
Ian January 19, 2012 at 11:00 pm
Thanks. And though I'm two weeks behind the times, congratulations on your sale to Apex-- that's freaking awesome, dude!
Mari January 21, 2012 at 12:22 pm
Heh. I tend to hate everything I write as well, and it's always good to hear that at least some other writers feel the same. Congrats on the upcoming novels and new novel project!
Ian January 21, 2012 at 12:28 pm
Thanks, Mari! You shouldn't have any reason to hate your own writing, but I completely sympathize with the impulse. I'm really enjoying the L'Engle reread on Tor.com, by the way. I'm getting a lot out of it, far more than I did when I tried to go back and reread A Wrinkle in Time a few years ago.
Mari January 21, 2012 at 3:54 pm
Well, see, nobody ever said I was reasonable about my writing... I'm glad you're enjoying the L'Engle reread. I'm finding it difficult, because although I've enjoyed some of the books, I'm finding others dull or very problematic, and it's hard to reconcile those thoughts with my childhood love for A Wrinkle in Time -- not to mention that the problematic books are sometimes making for difficult reading. So the next author will be someone purely fun.
Ian January 21, 2012 at 8:36 pm
We're writers. We can't be reasonable about our own writing. It's part of the job description, isn't it? You've just described exactly the problem I had when I went back and reread A Wrinkle in Time as an adult. I was really excited to revisit that book, and the sequels. I loved it, just loved it, when I was in elementary school. But when I read that book with an adult's eyes, I just couldn't believe it was the same book.
Brit January 23, 2012 at 11:05 pm
Thanks in return! *g*
Loren January 26, 2012 at 5:53 pm
I understand the new world of digital media, and social networks, but did you ever do a cost benefit analysis of blog writting vs. Revenue generation. I am not asking to point out any of your, "not achieving goal standards," I'm asking because I read your blog, albeit not as much as I would like, but I wonder if you were to put the hundreds of pages you have here to work on your novels, if the return wouldn't be higher, and thus more rewarding?
Ian January 26, 2012 at 9:30 pm
Hi, Loren! Thanks for dropping by. I think you might be overly generous in your estimation that I've written hundreds of blog pages :) Seriously, though, that's a very good question. As a matter of fact, the reason I don't keep my blog as up to date as I'd like is because I have very limited writing time, and I always put the "real" writing work -- novels, short stories, interviews, etc. -- first. Tonight, for instance, your blog comment sat in the queue for several hours while I did my nightly quota of work on the current novel. So, the blog is something extra that I do if and when I have excess time and energy. It never eats into my productive writing time. Frankly, I frequently don't enjoy the task of trying to keep the blog updated with something approaching regularity. After my day job and the self-imposed writing job, it can feel more like a chore than something fun. So it's a pretty low priority for me. That said, another very fair question would be why I bother with the blog at all, as opposed to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and so forth. Surely the time invested in my solitary little blog would have greater long-term benefit if put into social networking instead. That's probably true. But I feel that an effective use of social networking would require more time and energy than I feel capable of putting out there. Other writers manage it, but I haven't figured out the trick yet!
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