Sunday, January 03, 2016

Setting Up the Year

I should probably feel better about 2015 than I do. Not that I feel that it was a bad year, just that it went by so fast, and I just have a general feeling of indifference about it. It's like I'm in the middle chapter of a series that's just setting up exposition for exciting plot developments to come, but the foreshadowing is too vague to know where my character is headed.

And there were some great things that happened in 2015 that should make me feel more fondly about it:
- We paid off our student loans and our car loan, so that for the first time in our 17 years of marriage we are completely debt free. And since then, this inexplicable thing has begun to happen where we actually have more money in our savings at the end of the month than when we began.
- Besides our annual daytrips to Santa Cruz we took the kids to Yosemite, Santa Barbara, Lake Tahoe, and Disneyland. Our kids travel very well, so our family trips are a pleasure.
- I started my second year of full-time teaching at my new school, and have finally got all juniors and senior classes, so that everyday teaching isn't a battle against hormone-fueled immaturity like last year's freshman and sophomore classes were. My administration is great, my colleagues are great, and I've got great rapport and buy-in from all of my classes. Planning and grading are a pain as usual, but it's so nice to feel stable, with it almost that next year I will be tenured.
- My eldest son Jacob gave up little league baseball for track, and flourished, competing in the mile, and getting a medal in long-jump at the district meet. His parents definitely enjoy the chill atmosphere of track meets compared to overly competitive parents of little league. Best of all he finished the evil purgatory of middle school and has made a better transition to high school than we could have hoped for. He played on the JV football team, got nearly straight A's, and was Homecoming Duke for the freshman class. My daughter Olivia is midway through middle school, but has avoided all of the bullying and negativity that plagued Jake. The uber-creative one, she is loving her crafts class, and playing trumpet in honor band. Though she had a crap time doing travel softball, she managed to have fun with it, and made it onto her school's team in the fall. Then the youngest, Ben, started 1st grade (though after Pre-K, T-K, and Kindergarten, he's an old hat at school) already having nearly mastered all of the 1st grade standards. He's reading chapter books all on his own, and has started the Harry Potter series.

All great things, right? Things that should be enough.Of course as a writer I hoped to have read more and written more in 2015, which is a mix of guilt that I wasn't more productive and envy of those others who always seem to have the time for it all.

Maybe it's getting older. I'm turning 40 this year, meaning 2015 was the year I began closing down a decade of my life, and it is too easy to think of the things that didn't happen in the past ten years that could have or should have, rather than the good things that did happen.

So it goes. Some reflection is necessary, but there's a point where too much looking back keeps you from moving forward with a purpose. Goodreads tells me that I read 26 books last year, missing my 40 book goal, which didn't keep me from making the same goal again this year. This year I am accepting K. T. Bradford's Challenge, and only reading books not written by white, male, straight, cis authors, with the caveat that I will occasionally cheat. I wrote about it in an essay on Medium.

Writing wise it's the same resolution every year: write more, make sure all finished short stories are under consideration somewhere, be better about connecting on social media, start making art again. This year to keep me accountable I started a log, so that I can ensure that I have done at least one thing for my creative life every day. After I get these last few short stories revised and submitted I hope this will be the oft advised "Write at least one page a day".

Since 2016 for me is split with finishing my 30's and beginning my 40's, it's a strange hybrid of short-term and long-term goals. I think now I will just focus on the next five months before my birthday. Here is my best case scenario (for why envision anything else):
- I will have completed all of my unfinished and unrevised short stories and have them off soliciting acceptance.
- my reading book count for the year will be in the teens.
- I will have begun one of the art project I've been planning for (gulp) years.
- I will be well on my way to completing one of my novels-in-progress (right now I'm leaning towards my Great American Zombie Novel The Two Loves of Ugly Doug).
- and since we are discussing best case scenarios, some of the short stories I have out will have been accepted, and there will be a sudden surge in readership, bringing enough revenue in to start a micro-press, which will begin it's run by finally allowing me to hold printed copies of my first two books in my hands.

Good luck to me, and good luck to you this year!