We’ve all done some soul searching.
There are several opportunities throughout the year for us to do this: birthdays, vacations, New Year’s. Life also presents us opportunities to do this when certain events occur: loss of job, new job, end of a relationship, death. These moments of deep self reflection are like the Annual Report of your life: where did you succeed, where did you fail, what can you do differently in the coming year, etc.
With the New Year now 25 days old, I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching. The new president has a lot of people doing soul searching, which may or may not include updating their passport and preparing to flee the country. I myself am not worried about the new regime. And it’s not because I voted for Trump; it’s simply because there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s going to happen whether I like it or not, so instead I choose to reflect on the events that I can control.
I’m 32, with 33 rapidly approaching. I have a 15-month old, and my wife and I will be welcoming a new baby later this year in July. It’s going to be scary and exciting all at the same time. Selfishly, I worry about how much more sleep I’m going to lose, how much hair I’m going to lose, and how much stress I’m going to gain. Selflessly, I pray that I can rise to the challenge of being a great dad to two kids (under two, no less), not just one, and still be a great husband to a wife who deserves the moon and stars. But always, when I reflect, it comes back to writing. And as usual, I find myself disappointed.
2016 actually saw some great strides in writing. While I was unemployed for the first 3 and a half months of the year, I was able to write about 90% of a children’s story that had been brewing in the back of my mind for over a year. Seeing it come to life on pages, I have the confidence that it can be a hit if I can find the right agent/publisher combination. Later in the year, over the summer, I completed a 8,000 word short story to enter into a contest for Wattpad. The story, which is the best short story I’ve ever written (I prefer writing novels over shorts, to tell the truth), did not win the contest, but I blame that less on the story, and more on the parameters of the contest. The story gave me hope – hope that I still have what it takes to make it in this business, and hope that one day I’m going to see the success I’ve craved for over 15 years.
But beyond these two accomplishments – and a few blog posts – my writing more or less stagnated. I could sit here and tell you that it was because of a job change, and having a small child to raise, and wanting to spend time with my family, and being busy on weekends, etc. All of that would be true, and all of that might be enough for some people. But it’s not enough for me, and it hasn’t been for a while.
I make excuses, and then I vow to make changes when I soul search. And it usually works…for a month or so, and then I fall back into old habits. You could could argue that it’s because I don’t really love writing, because if I did, then I would just do it. I wish it were that simple, I really do, and maybe it is. But I don’t believe that. Not yet.
I’m only 32 years old, but my window for doing this might be closing, especially with a brand new kid on the way. Time is oh so precious, and I’ve wasted a lot of it.
I don’t make resolutions, because when I fail to reach them, it only depresses me. I’m not going to make promises that “it’ll be better” this year, because circumstances can change, and the promises I would make now might not be the ones I can fulfill later.
But I do have some plans.
Building on the momentum I started in the first six months of 2016, I plan to finish the children’s story I started, and begin to tentatively shop it. But before I do that, I’m planning on posting my short story “The Nine Lives of Jay Catsby” online at Amazon for purchase. The plan is to shop it at $2.99; this obviously seems incredibly steep for an unknown writer, and for a short story. But I have my reasons: I will be donating all the profits of this story to the ASPCA, and according to my research and communication with Amazon, I can make a bigger profit (70%) if I charge at least $2.99, which would mean more money to help animals. The project is going to be called “Catsby for a Cause” and I will be revealing more info regarding this on here as it becomes available. The reason I want to write, in addition to inspiring people, is to give back, and this seems like a good way to start.
There are two big quotes that have been running in my head lately, and I think they will end up being my mantra for 2017. The first is “Be the change you want to see in the world,” which is attributed to Gandhi. It doesn’t need further explanation, but basically we can either complain about how the world is, or we can do something about it, and guys, I’m done complaining. So I’m going to do something. Something good.
The other is the song “Try” by Pink. Specifically the chorus which is as follows:
“Where the is desire, there is going to be a flame,
Where there is a flame, someone’s bound to get burned,
But just because it burns doesn’t mean you’re going to die,
You gotta get up and try, try, try.”
Pink obviously wasn’t talking about trying to get published (why would she?), but the message is clear: Look, you might fail. You might get burned. But you’re never going to know unless you put yourself out there and see what comes back. Part of me has been afraid to see what is going to come back by putting myself out there. Part of me is afraid things are going to crash and burn, and that everything I’ve dreamt up in my head will turn into a nightmare. But I have to stop being afraid. I need to put myself out there once and for all.
I hope for big things in 2017, but I’m not promising them. But I need something more. And everything in my life is telling me that Writing is that something.