I have the very best of intentions. Really, I do. I begin every year vowing to be a better family member, a better friend, a better author. I vow to buy birthday cards for those closest to me and (better yet) actually mail them—on time! I know! The very concept leaves me breathless.
Every year I promise myself that I’ll blog regularly and fill the internet with witty chatter about my interesting life (the one I vow I’m going to have this year) and all my amazing activities (the ones I swear I’m going to actually participate in.)
And then reality sets in and 10 months later I’m looking at all the things I promised myself faithfully that I’d do this year, but haven’t, and I wonder what happened???
Sure, there’s work to do and books to write and the house to clean and the dog to walk and the cat to continually move from my lap to the floor so I can actually do all of those things. And there are illnesses and emergencies that get in the way. But not every day, and not all the time. So what happened?
I used to be one of the most prolific authors I knew. I was focused. Dedicated. Determined. That was okay, but I was also . . . rude. I rolled my eyes at excuses and thought that anybody could write three or four really good books a year if only they’d put their mind to it. I was convinced that anybody who was struggling to write must not really want to write.
Yeah. I know. I apologize to every writer in the entire world. I’m not joking.
I was one of those people you asked to take on a project because, as we all know, if you want something done you give it to a busy person. I worked three jobs at a time, or worked two and went to school in my spare time. I was a single mom, so raising the kids, running the house, keeping up the yard, and bringing home the bacon fell on my shoulders alone. I had to do it all, and I did. (Admittedly, I fell a bit short on some things. I mean, c’mon. It’s impossible to do everything well, right? Right? So let’s not talk about the yard, okay?)
But for the past few years I’ve felt as if I’m on the proverbial road to hell and that road really is paved with my good intentions. Somewhere along the way I hit the wall. I spent so long burning the candle at both ends that, apparently, the ends finally met in the middle.
I also encountered a few very challenging life experiences, a couple of which shattered my entire world. It has taken me a long, l-o-n-g time (and a whole lot of prayer) to find my way back from those. Back in my “everybody can write if they really want to” days, I didn’t factor in those earth-shaking, rock-your-world, leave you empty and shaking in the corner things that eventually happen to all of us.
I’ve always been an avid list-maker and goal-setter. But now, instead of producing long lists of tasks I’ve accomplished every day, I find myself staring at long lists of tasks I haven’t managed to complete. Lists are no longer my friend, they’re my guilty conscience.
But no matter how it happened, it’s way past time to get back on track. And I mean it this time.
Maybe I can’t fill the internet with witty chatter about my interesting and varied activities, but I can be honest about where I am and what I’m doing to pull myself up by my bootstraps.
Today I’m going to declare a dream and write it down with a date. My plan is to read through the very first book I ever wrote, which is also the first book I sold way back when. I recently got the rights to that series along with the rights to a few of my romances back from my publisher, and I’m going to release them all in Kindle format. That’s my big dream, but let’s take it one at a time.
Dream: Start with No Place for Secrets.
Date: Publish the book by October 31, 2013. That makes it a firm goal.
Steps: Since this book was written back in the olden days, everything after the first draft was done in hard copy, so the manuscript on my computer needs some work before it matches the finished product. So my steps are to read and polish one chapter at a time and celebrate the tiny victories along the way.
I remember this from back in the day: celebrating a small victory leads to more small victories. Repeatedly beating oneself up over small failures leads to inertia.
Action: Well … that’s pretty obvious. Now that I have my Grand Master Plan, I have to do the work. My plan is to track the steps here on my website, chapter by chapter, to keep me accountable. Steps + Action.
As for those birthday cards … my oldest niece has a birthday coming up later this month. I could wait until the beginning of the year and start over then, but why wait? I say, begin right where you are.