Croeso i’r Flwyddyn Newydd! (Hopefully, that does actually say “Welcome to the New Year!”)
Well, the New Year’s time is traditionally the time to look backwards and then make a plan for the next year based on what we’ve learnt. If the “Media” (news and such on Internet, TV, radio) are anything to go by, you will have spent the days between Christmas and midnight yesterday / today looking at 2011. I’m not sure that many have got into “lessons learnt” territory. And, in my case, we can safely assume I’ve learnt nothing; I am ignorant and lazy.
My fiends are posting blogs that review their year, but it doesn’t tempt me into join in. Except, maybe, to measure myself – briefly – against Dylan Fox’s statistics (Looking up at the Sky: What I’ve Learned About Writing in 2011 [External Link]). Consider it a moment of pseudo-sibling rivalry.
My Duotrope [External Link] account tells me I’ve made 37 submissions in the last twelve months (many of which are attempts to rehome the same handful of stories). I have had one acceptance – although two stories were published because one took a while to publish due to the venue’s process. I have written, or rewritten, maybe ten short stories. In 2010, I made 41 submissions and gained two acceptances, while writing a similar number of short pieces. In basic, statistical terms, my writing career is going nowhere and I’m producing very little, and most of it not publishable quality. The mouse is a failure. But, wait! Statistics don’t show much. They’re not meant to because they’re summaries.
My statistics don’t show the hours I’ve spent working – not just last year but the year before as well – on three long projects: 25 Ways to Kill A Werewolf (which I hope to have out to a publisher at some point this year, though that may not result in a positive statistic), The Three Guineveres (a third of the way through and with an excessive amount of background work going on and I’m still not certain it’s useable), and the unnamed romance project that fell over. I have beta readers who have fallen off their chairs looking at my “producing very little” because they’ve read every word of the combined 150,000 total of the three projects (along with many of the shorter works) produced over the last two years. I’ve also had to fit in a full time job, a child-replacement (that’s the dog, if you haven’t guessed), my family, my friends, and other assorted time consuming interests. Equally, Foxie’s statistics tell you nothing about how hard he’s worked on the work he’s produced, how things have been with the day job – without which neither of us could afford to do this kind of thing – and all the other time-sinks he juggles in his life. (And, for a taster of them, go read his blog.)
So, looking forward and making New Year’s resolutions?
I find it difficult to make resolutions. I’m the kind of person who prefers to go and get something done once they’ve decided it needs to be done. This “New Year” thing only works for me if it’s something that’s occurred to me in the run-up to Christmas (and is therefore effectively unaffordable in terms of time or money). I do actually have one resolution that comes under this heading:
- Subscribe to SaySomethinginWelsh [External Link] for the Intermediate / Second course
This is not because it’s expensive, it’s not, but because it didn’t seem like a good idea to commit to it with the stresses that come with my usual run-up to Christmas. I finished the Beginner’s course about two weeks before Christmas and life became a bit weird around then – as is traditional, at least for me. I will also have to practise my Welsh regularly because I’m off to Bootcamp (No English for a week!) at Easter. Crumbs, as Penfold would say.
I don’t need a resolution to tell me to finish a writing project (I’ll keep working at it until I do) or DIY / decorating around the house (I’ll work on it when I can be bothered). I know I ought to, say, work on my French or commit more time to fencing or maybe dust off my ju-jitsu skills but it would cost me time I’m not prepared to give up unless I burst into Spontaneous Independent Wealth (I don’t buy lottery tickets, so it’s the only way that’s going to happen). I have an ambition to, one day, write a version of Joan of Arc / Jeanne D’Arc but this is beyond my abilities and knowledge at this time. I’ll keep doing the background reading but that’s one ambition that definitely won’t be achieved this year.
I also don’t like making deadlines or resolutions for things that are actually outside of my control. Getting writing works accepted, for example, is dependent on the tastes of the person reading them. I most definitely do not have the kind of name that gets work automatically accepted and the numbers show I’m
spamming editors sending out my work pretty regularly already.
Most of my other potential resolutions can be discarded as unthought-through rubbish:
Buy a beagle puppy and call it “Snoopy”.
Buy a horse and call it “Champion”.
Buy a lot of land.
Buy a house in the middle of nowhere
Buy a polar bear and call it… whatever it answers to. PS Don’t forget to put it in armour.
And so on. The things that are achievable, like buying myself an Albion sword [External Link] will happen because (and when) I can afford it, not because I made the decision on 1st January. (yes, I am considering it.)
Next comes all the resolutions to be politer, kinder, more aware, and so on. As ever, I break this down to one thing that I always try to do, regardless of the date. Sometimes, I get caught up in my life and forget. If I remember, I take a deep breath and step back to remind myself what I’m supposed to be doing:
- Be the best person that you can.