January is a time of hope and optimism for me. I am relieved to see the end of the old year and the beginning of a new one. In January, I make plans, set goals, dream, and imagine all the wonderful things that might just possibly happen this year – all the time time knowing that I imagined many of the same things last year and that they never happened. But in January, it all seems possible again.
I did not achieve all of last year’s goals but I am okay with that. I find it difficult to set realistic goals for as long a period as a year. By the end of the year, circumstances may be totally different, my goals may have become irrelevant, or I may have realized that my goals did not even address the deeper issues that I really needed to work on. I don’t feel mad at myself or guilty for not doing all that I wanted to do, because those kinds of negative feelings certainly won’t make things any easier for me today.
One thing I wanted to do last year was to revise my novel. I didn’t complete this, because I discovered along the way that revision is much harder than writing the first draft and that my novel had many more problems with it than I had thought. So I’m still working on revising it. But I feel okay with not completing that goal, because I learned a lot about revision last year, and I received some awesome feedback from two beta readers who helped me to see the problems in my own writing. I know that I’m a better writer now than I was last year, and I feel confident that I will be able to complete the revision in the next couple of months.
I also didn’t write as much for this blog as I had planned, but I feel okay with that because I now have a much better idea in my head of what I want this blog to look like and what I want to write about here. Progress has been made, even if it’s not quite the kind of progress that I envisioned last January.
Oddly, the accomplishment of 2013 that I feel happiest with has nothing at all to do with writing or blogging: I learned how to knit. It was something that I had wanted to do for a while, so I took a class in it last fall and I now know the basics of knitting. And although I have no desire to become a master knitter or to even really do anything with this skill beyond simply making the odd item for myself, I feel like this is an important accomplishment. It is something that I can do with my hands, and I have a physical object to show for it at the end. In the past, I’ve painted flowers on rocks, furnished miniature rooms, and glued collages into notebooks. Now I knit.
So much for 2013. It is January after all, and it is the time for planning for and dreaming about the year to come just as much as it is the time for reflecting on the year that has passed. Although I still find it difficult to plan for an entire year, I have again set myself a few goals, although this year I am treating them more as signposts pointing into the future rather than definite statements of things I am going to do. A few of my signposts include:
- Finally finish revising my novel. This one is probably closest to a definite statement. I see no reason why I shouldn’t be able to finish this soon.
- Write more. Mainly short stories, blog posts, and the first draft of my second novel. (For some reason I don’t write poetry anymore. I’m not sure why, but I’m not going to worry about it – though if one day I find myself writing poetry again, that will be nice.) I also have some developments planned for this blog, but I’m not going to mention them yet because I like the idea of them being a surprise when/if they do develop.
- Do the citizen science work that I wrote about earlier.
- Also: Knit. Learn and practice calligraphy. Practice sketching and drawing more often. Take more photos. Go for more walks and hikes. These activities feel somehow necessary to me, perhaps as a counterbalance to the more abstract work of writing.
Some of these goals look suspiciously similar to last year’s goals, but in January it all seems possible again. I’ve also become better at planning in the past year, and in translating my goals into specific actions that I will work on this month, this week, and today. So I feel that I have a better chance of being successful with my goals this year than I was last year.
And in January, I believe in my goals again, because the entire year is waiting for me, and it still seems that anything might happen.
Do you have any goals or signposts for 2014?