A letter to my future self about this year; contest entry
Let’s talk about this year. I know that I don’t believe in “New Year’s Resolutions” per se, but as I think I am well-aware, setting goals is the only way to actually achieve them. Remember 2011, when I decided that I was going to learn how to knit? Once I had a little bit of money saved up, I went out to Michael Arts & Crafts and bought myself some size 6 super bulky yarn, a set of rosewood knitting needles, and a book craftily titled, “Knitting for Beginners.” By the end of that year, I could knit all of the basics like scarves, hats, and even gloves! The next year, I raised the bar. For 2012, I decided that I would learn how to knit stuffed animals, and I did. Now I make them to sell and give some away as gifts. I also learned to crochet; a bonus goal for myself so that I could move on to the next in a long line of goals.
Well, when I was reading my posts from one year ago on Facebook, it came up with my long post about struggling to get into my Writing.com account because I wanted to get back into writing, and I certainly did that too, to the point of needing an upgraded membership for the portfolio space! How cool was that!? Except now I have an unfinished novella, the start of a book, several items that I believe need a good polishing, and a long list of ideas for new stories that I have started writing in my brain but haven’t made it onto the digital paper yet. I know how much I hate unfinished projects, so here’s the deal. Let’s knock a few of those out. If I’m being honest with myself, I will not finish that book this year; not amidst school, family, Dungeons & Dragons, videogaming, etc. However, that gives me the freedom to work on my smaller projects without feeling guilty about putting that big novel on the back burner.
This year, my goals for myself will be to finish “Honey Beaumont,” “A Very Psychological Narrative,” and “Once Upon an Empty Body.” That’s one novella and two short stories, provided the muses don’t take me and stretch those short stories out beyond 40,000 words. Now, I know that seems a little unfair because each of the items are at different levels of completion, but hopefully that will give me the variety that I need to keep myself both diligent and entertained. “Honey Beaumont” kind of exploded back in September, huh? He started out in August as an idea for a non-player character for a D&D campaign, then got shortlisted to be a side character in a larger story, and then I decided that his story was probably just as good as whatever story I was going to set him into. Why tell his story through flashbacks when I could follow him through it from start to finish? I love what I have so far, and I can’t wait to see where the story goes from here. I have a long way to go, but I will eventually turn Honey into a hero. I promise him that. By the end of this year, Honey will be a hero.
“A Very Psychological Narrative” is very unfinished at this point. I have a few paragraphs written up on Google Docs, and I know how I want it to go. It just got pushed to the back of the line because other writings, like writing required for school, sort of took up what little time and energy I had for my little side-project. I really love the idea of a narrative story that encompasses psychological theory in it. Characters based on the “Big Five Personality Traits” and “The Dark Triad” are the bad guys? How has nobody thought of this before? Well, maybe they have but they simply lacked the perseverance to get the words out onto paper. Good thing I don’t have that problem! It’s going to take a lot of time and energy, but I think that’s just the type of challenge that I need to keep the old fire burning in my brain.
“Once Upon an Empty Body” is technically finished, but I’m not happy with it. I wrote it for an activity on Writing.com, based on an idea that I had had for a screenplay, then expanded it to meet the criteria for a writing piece that I needed for a creative writing class, and it became part of my final portfolio. However, it’s still not what I want it to be. It’s what my teacher wanted it to be. There is actually a very good chance that I’m going to rewrite it in screenplay form and expand on it, just to see what I get. I’ve never written a screenplay before, which would be a bonus goal for me for this year. It is how I had originally wanted to present that story, after all. I owe it to myself to see if it would have been any good, right? Of course, right!
I think it’s important to address the issue of time. I know that I’m working on finishing my Bachelor of Psychology next Fall, and school does come first (despite what the imaginary people from my stories keep telling me). I think that it is also important to remember that I will have some time over Summer. Even if I end up taking a Summer course, I’ll have five weeks at the beginning or end in which to do as I please, and I please to write. So, I shouldn’t be upset with myself if by one-third of the way through the year (April-ish) I haven’t completed one of these three goals. Writing doesn’t really work that way anyway. I know me. There are days when I don’t want to write a damn word, and then there are others where the muses take me so far out into the depths of my own gray matter that hours pass like minutes while my fingers type away at the keyboard. DO NOT BE UPSET. I mean it. Stop it. Writing is not consistent. Good writing only happens when I’m ready to write. Do I remember I much forced writing I’ve thrown out because it was absolute garbage? Me neither because that’s pretty much what happens with writing assignments from school. They’re forced, and I hate the way they come off because of formatting restrictions, time constraints, predetermined topics; the list goes on.
Now, what’s cool about my goals is that they were, in fact, goals that I had anyway. I want to start finishing some of these rather unfinished projects that I have so that I may begin new projects. Goodness knows that list of writing ideas is growing ever longer. I would like to reiterate that this is not a “New Year’s Resolution,” and here is the reason why. Resolutions tend to be big changes that one wants to make within one’s self, and they think they need all year to do it. Then the resolution is abandoned by February because, let’s face it, nobody likes change. For me, this isn’t change. It’s drive. I’m not asking myself to do anything that I wouldn’t normally do anyway or to be someone else. I’m simply directing my writing energy into these three particular projects to help foster completion.
If I know me as well as I think I do, I will get distracted. Every month, there are writing contests, the occasional poem leaks out of my brain, and then, of course, there is the dreaded required writing for school. This does not take away from the goals I have set for myself, though. Those writings, both required and impulsive, are a naturally-occurring phenomenon. They happen to me all of the time, so I think that it is important for me to keep that in mind this year while I’m working toward my goals. I’m not cheating on my main projects with these little “side-quests.” I’m just doing what needs to be done and keeping my mind clear of those little wonderings so that I may better focus on my goals when the time comes to do so. It’s ok to write other things as long as I always come back to them when it’s time to do some major throwing-down of words. I think I can live with that.
It’s going to be a good year, you know? My short story “Resting Stone” was published in the college literary magazine in January. I’m almost ready to send off my final copy of my game review to a video-gaming journal with the help of one of my professors. And, on top of it all, I’m slowly getting all of my stories out of my brain, only to be replaced by more, I’m sure, but that’s still a pretty good feeling knowing that I am accomplishing something. Who knows? Maybe someone will enjoy all of the craziness that I get out of my brain. Someday, I might be writing myself a letter talking about publishing a book or something by the end of the year. Wouldn’t that be something? It is a lifelong goal of mine, to write a novel or a book of short writings and publish it so that I may buy a copy for myself and maybe a few others for my close friends or relatives. I don’t want to be a famous writer. I don’t want to research what’s popular and write to sell. I just want to write. To be remembered would be great, but it really isn’t that important to me. And I think it’s important for myself and other writers to know that writing popular stories that are a dime a dozen are a passing fancy. It’s the unusual that stand the test of time.
Well, I think I have rambled on long enough about my goals for the year and how that ties in to pretty much my entire existence. Suffice it to say it won’t be easy to complete all three stories with life happening all around me, but I think I will rise to that challenge, overcome it, and be all the better for it. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even find time to complete other small projects through the year. With a little bit of hope and the will to sit down and focus on it, I can do whatever it is I set my mind to. I’ve got this! So, let’s get started!
"I am not what happens to me. I am what I choose to become." – Carl Jung