>I’ve never been that big on the New Year thing; resolutions, debauchery, or any of that. I get pretty tired of the various “best of” lists that every media source has to throw out, and this year has been additionally overrun with “best of decade” lists. But I’d be lying if I denied feeling particularly reflective this year. Not just of the year winding down, but on what little changes I can make moving forward to get where I want to be over the next twelve months, five years, decade, etc. When I make my own evaluations of the preceding ten, all too often it seems I was just being buffeted about and reacting to circumstances, rather than placing targets and then shooting to hit them. It’s not that I’ve never done this kind of reflection, I just haven’t been one to write any of it down. This year I’ve decided to face the future differently. I’ve noticed that one of the ways that Julia seems to be so productive is that she is always making to do lists; not just for household chores, but little short term goals of getting “project x” complete by “date y.” I think I could use a little of that.
Flip of the Switch
When I look back at 2009, it seems like it will be the year I really got some focus on the kind of writing I want to do. I’ve wanted to be a writer forever, but never made it a priority. In the last couple years I gave lip service to it as a priority, and did a hell of a lot more of it than I have in about 15 years or so (I’d written a couple novels back in my 20s). But, frankly, as long as I was still playing in Lazerwolfs it seemed I was keeping a lot of time and identity tied up in that part of my life. Maintaining contacts, booking shows, planning trips, etc. — hell, it was one fairly reliable constant for ten years running! For the last two years most of that was a profound waste of time, I just wasn’t admitting it to myself. When we finally pulled the plug — or, more accurately, when our drummer up and vanished — I took a couple months off thinking I was done with music. While that feeling didn’t last, it did make me see myself as a “writer who rocks” as opposed to a “rocker who writes.” That is an important distinction to make, and I didn’t realize it until just a couple months ago.
That sabbatical from the devil’s music coincided with taking three different writing workshops. Those workshops made a profound impact. Besides the technical aspects of writing, they also awakened my interest in reading fiction again. Over the past several years, I had been reading nonfiction probably four or five to one over fiction. Since June, I started gobbling up fiction again, and really going back to the roots of the stuff I grew up on and loved so much. The workshops didn’t help me feel like any part of a local “community” like I’d hoped they would (which is odd, if you think of it, because you can’t throw a rock in this town without hitting a writer), but they did get me looking into communities outside of Missoula comprised of people who were interested in a lot of the same types of writing and stories that I am. And there are a lot of them, and many of those folks are just as eager to share their passions for the stories that I am. That’s pretty cool.
As of this moment, I have three novels in process, two of which are within sight of having their first drafts completed. That’s in a little less than six months of work. I’m pretty stoked about that. I also managed to have a cover article in the local weekly (on top of quite a bit more freelance work for them), and had one article in a national magazine. This may not sound like much, but I feel like it’s a foundation to build on, and it is certainly a lot more measurable success than anything I’ve accomplished in 20+ years of playing music. Most of all it’s been a lot of fun, I’ve learned a ton, and I’ve encountered some very cool folks along the way, through the writing, the interactions, and via this blog. So even though I can recite a litany of things I failed to accomplish in ’09, I feel pretty good about the scattered victories.
Bring It On!
So tonight Julia and I did something we’ve never done before. We had both put together lists of failures and successes from the year past, as well as lists of things we wanted to accomplish in the coming year. Reflecting and planning. We are both kind of undergoing personal reinventions, and it’s a laborious process. The plans really aren’t anything all that drastic, just more building on projects that are underway, improvements, things like that. It seems like a lot, but it is all entirely doable, and it sure doesn’t hurt to have a partner to lean on. It is exciting, and discussing them all is invigorating. So much of this stuff we’ve talked about for so long, it’s cool to see it starting to show signs of paying off.
We made a combined list, and plan to get a big calendar to hang in an obvious spot in the hallway where we can mark the due dates to hold ourselves, and each other, accountable to. It seems like a good way to get a lot of done, since we both can be so easily distracted. I think come this time next year, we’ll have a lot to be happy about, and even more big plans for 2011. Hopefully everyone is feeling the same kind of enthusiasm for what’s around the corner. Happy New Year!