2017 in retrospect

New Year’s is a fascinating time. It’s a time that seems to inspire excess, while also serving as both an end and a beginning. Surviving another 365 days seems like a big enough deal that we should celebrate, and yet, it’s often that sort of celebration that we intend to put behind ourselves.

Last year, I took a look at 2016 to end that year, so this year I’ll do the same. So what did I do in 2017?

In a lot of ways, not as much as I’d hoped. And yet, I accomplished a fair amount, a great deal of it around learning to Dad and surfing the waves of having this tiny being I call KRH. But so much of my internal focus is on “productivity” by which I tend to mean my progress toward goals, things like writing, health, personal growth. And in this year, when I intended to thrive, I mostly survived or ran in place. That left me feeling pretty disillusioned about myself.

The thing is, I shouldn’t be. This year, I finished yet another rewrite, made progress on an ongoing project, took four months of parental leave that both expanded my perceptions of what being a Dad was all about and taught me an awful lot about KRH, got into a manuscript workshop, wrote a bunch of queries, and generally survived on less sleep than I’ve ever had while the world felt like it was burning around us. So maybe it wasn’t my most productive year. I survived it, and now I have to learn and move on.

How is 2018 going to be different? In a lot of ways, it probably won’t be. The chaos isn’t going to stop, I think we all know that. More personally, KRH is going to keep getting bigger and older and keep learning, and in a lot of ways he’ll need his parents more than before, even if he one day (hopefully) allows us to sleep through the night. So the challenges remain.

Long story short, I think I need to tackle those challenges differently. Rather than merely having goals, I need to build systems that will carry me toward those goals. Perhaps more important, I need to be resilient in sticking with those systems, no matter who’s tweeted what or how little sleep I got last night. If it was easy, I’d already be doing it.

So what’s next? Applying those systems, plus that manuscript workshop I mentioned earlier. In a lot of ways, the more I learn about publishing and writing, the further I think I am from getting published. I think I’m writing damn good stuff, but I wonder if there’s another level I need to hit before I get to publication. After that, keeping on with the book I’m workshopping, because turning around a novel a lot faster than I currently do is something I really need to do. The average MRH novel takes about 650 hours right now, and I want to both cut that down, and get better at getting it all in inside a calendar year or so.

Launching into this year, I think I feel a lot more optimism than I felt this time last year, and I also think my expectations of myself are a lot more reasonable. That’s good! I suspect those expectations will get challenged very quickly.

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