I’m going to publish this list so we can all laugh at my hubristic vision. Here’s everything I wished to do by the end of 2016, written at the very start of that year:
- Publish a poem
- Perform 50 times
- Get a play produced
- Finish the novel
- Get a short story/flash published
- Do a comic
- Post a blog a month at least – if not every month, at least 12 times in the year
- Know what I’m doing after my MA
- See everybody I can get to see
- Fringe 2016
- Black leather jacket
- Poetry pamphlet
- Plan the next novel
- Release a music EP
- Travel outside the UK
- Finish the trilogy of plays
- Collaborate with someone and produce something that didn’t exist in any form when this list was first drafted
- Make a short film
- Do many comics
- Go to an event that provides a legitimate excuse for buying a posh new suit
- Go to the West End rather than just moaning about it
So what have I accomplished as of today?
- I bought the jacket, but I’m a little too tubby for it at the moment
- The ‘perform 50 times’ thing is reflective of the fact that I’m not very good at it, and you only get better with practice. I haven’t even been out of an evening (save cinema trips) since summer 2018, so I doubt I’ve performed 50 times in the past four years
- I’m blogging more regularly this year, but I have very different expectations of what blogging means now rather than then
- Everything else goes into the bin labelled “did not happen”
So, am I embarrassed by the above list? In 2017, sure I was. In 2018 and 2019, I tried to forget it existed. Unearthing it from my drafts today? Not at all.
Everything on the list is either an ambition, or a practical step towards a larger ambition, or a fun thing I would like to do. There’s nothing wrong with ambition. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have fun. And I feel like I’ve been running at maximum capacity since 2016, if not longer. I certainly haven’t had any sort of holiday since Fringe 2014, and even then I was technically working. So I’m not going to beat myself up about the things I haven’t achieved yet, because that attitude doesn’t land you anywhere positive.
I kept these goals secret at the time because I knew it was wildly ambitious, but thought I would achieve a few of them, and wanted to control the expectations/reality aspect of things.
This year’s goals, however, I’ll be a little more public about. In a sense, the list above still stands in its entirely, but really I’m concentrating on a few things directly:
- Write more. I didn’t write at all in 2019, save scraps and late night poems, so the only way is up.
- Exercise more. I will never like exercise, but I recognise its value and certainly felt better about myself when I did exercise regularly. My health is much more of a priority this year than it had ever been.
- Be rejected more. There was a LitHub article saying “aim for 100 rejections a year” or something, and that’s just a statistical reality. Miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, miss 95% of the shots you do take, and maybe somewhere in that 5% there will be something cool. If I am satisfied that everything I present is the best that I can make it, then there’s no honour list in trying.
- Read more. I feel smarter and more myself when I’m reading more. I write better when I’m reading. I really read only a couple of books last year. Again, only way is up.
- Finish more stuff. This includes the novel. This includes the poems I need to send off to get rejected. A certain amount of sitting in a drawer is important. A little more than that is deadly.
- Be able to say at the end of 2020 that I did what I set out to do. This is the reason I’ve hated my birthday for a decade, why New Year’s has always been a downer – I’ve always set too much to do too quickly, failed, and beaten myself up for it. That’s why everything in these bullet points are not really goals, they’re processes, habits. When my habits are better, my life improves. So, I’m putting the processes in place, and we’ll see where that ends up.
Really, this year’s about me doing my best and seeing where it leads. It’s all anyone can ever do, really.