Notes from the Cooler

At the beginning of 2011, I wrote the following: So far the plan is pretty simple: New novel. New album. And generally keep doing what I’m doing, but better.

Okay, so I didn’t finish the new novel, or the new album — but I started both, so that’s partial success. What about the third thing? I’m going to say yes, I kept doing what I’ve been doing, but better. All in all, I worked hard this year, harder than ever before, I think. I did two revisions on my first novel, wrote a big chunk of a second novel, started sending out agent queries, and even squeezed in a short story, all despite a full-time job. I fought the good fight, and got a lot accomplished.

Sometimes I have a hard time seeing it, though.This is a tough post to write, because I feel myself wanting to list my achievements from 2011, but I don’t feel like I have any. No tally marks, no sales, no milestones, no results. Nothing tangible, anyway. Just slow, gradual, painstaking progress. It feels like hard work, not paying off.

Yet.

I love stories about people who don’t give up. The ones who, regardless of the odds, keep picking themselves up and throwing themselves at their goals. Those types of characters inspire me. But I’m not always so good at being one of those characters. So I’m trying to pull back from 2011 and see around the absences, to look at the work,  the steps I’ve taken and the progress I’ve made. Because that work has meaning, and it matters, and it’s change, even if it doesn’t feel like it, and even if I can’t always see it.

So: be that person that doesn’t quit. That’s my resolution for 2012. And I’ll begin, right now, by channeling Steve McQueen from The Great Escape, looking wicked cool and confident in a leather flight jacket, ricocheting a baseball off the walls of a solitary confinement cell. He may not ever get out of there, but you’d never know it to look at him. I want to be that guy, even just a little.

Here’s wishing a great new year to all of us!

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