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Acres of Perhaps #15 - December 30, 2021
When I started this newsletter, I clearly overestimated the frequency with which I would do or experience interesting things. I COULD have sent newsletters between August and now, but they would have been terribly dull.
My 2021 Performance Review
As you know, I’m a compulsively contemplative person, and it feels like a year is wasted if I don’t do a full-on HR-style review of my own performance in the year.
Here’s what I’m proud of accomplishing in 2021:
Completed a novella and submitted it to a publisher.
Wrote a horror short story and several short funny pieces which I sent to various venues.
Launched Might As Well Write, a blog for writing advice.
Completed several harrowing work projects with something approaching professionalism.
Kept my day job despite a well-deserved reputation for being an erratic but creative crackpot.
Wrote every single day, logging over 168,000 words, too many of which are unpublishable journal entries.
Here’s what I enjoyed experiencing this year:
Adopting two kittens on the same day, Harlan and Harold.
Restoring our upstairs hardwood floors.
Tinkering with and restoring vintage computers.
Visiting my friend Steve in western Massachusetts and visiting the house where Shirley Jackson wrote “The Lottery.”
Stopping in Book Moon where I found my own books for sale on the shelf, a first. (People usually order them from Amazon or buy them from the counter at Bagel Love or find them on yellowed mattresses in the woods.)
Watching: Last Night in Soho, an eerily-perfect Will movie, a mental time travel murder mystery taking place in the 60s with a distinctive style.
Reading: A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders, which was more craft in one book than in my entire formal schooling in writing.
Also, The Death of the Artist by William Deresiewicz and The Cynical Writer’s Guide to Publishing by Naomi Kanakia, were the candid discussions of the industry I needed probably a decade ago.
Playing: Hanging out with my friend William got me interested in returning to Lord of the Rings Online, a game I love enough to basically be a hobby. I hope when I’m fading into dementia, it’s Lord of the Rings Online I hallucinate.
Attending Necronomicon in person this year and seeing so many great friends.
Meditating frequently and learning about how the thoughts we all take so seriously are truly fleeting.
Opportunities for Improvement
We don’t say that we “fucked up” in HR. We say that there are “opportunities to better leverage our talents.”
I did a lot of logging things this year (running, biking, writing) that sometimes ended up being unproductive token efforts just to keep the habit going.
Two short stories, a novella, and a couple of Postcard Stories are not really doing much for my career, such as it is.
I let my blog and Might As Well Write both languish when I got disappointed by their low reader response, but it takes time to build an audience.
I gained a huge amount of weight after several injuries related to running.
As always, I had a hard time starting things, first deciding they were worth the acute terror of beginning something unknown and then committing to finishing them. My response these days to so many ideas from my subconscious is to say, “Why bother?” which isn’t nice to my subconscious.
If I had to grade myself for the year, I’d call this a C+ sort of year, though circumstances in the world certainly impacted how I felt about starting and completing things.
I’m not as desperately ambitious as I once was, thinking that every moment was a judgment on my legacy to the world. I’m comfortable now with the idea that if dramatic success comes, it will be (and should be) a surprise for work well done more than something strategized and manipulated.
(My father took credit for way more than he accomplished, and I overcompensate by taking credit for way less.)
Things are strange and unsteady-feeling, and the impact of what I do feels far less certain…yet I’m comfortable with that.
Whew! You’re Still Here!
If you’ve made it this far, you deserve my completely sincere gratitude:
I do all of this writing solely for the reason that I enjoy entertaining people. And by “people,” I mean you. Very little thrills me more than knowing the people I entertain, hearing or reading their reactions, and I’m grateful for your support.
I hope that your 2022 is healthy, successful, and above all comfortable in all the ways you need it to be.
But Really, You Want More Cat Pictures
I get it.