Thanksgiving Thoughts 2010

It’s been a great year since last Thanksgiving. Sold three stories to Analog Science Fiction & Fact, got some interest in a novel project from a terrific publisher, and had a heck of a break-in splash in the form of Writers of the Future. More than that, however, my family and I managed to make it through another 365 days without major illness or mishap. Everything came up roses at my civilian job — last year was one of the most uncertain and stressful work years I’ve ever had — and I was able to spend many precious moments with both wife and child, even though work and the Army kept me away from home more than at any time since 2003. I also got to see my parents a lot, which becomes more important for both me and them as all of us get older. Because as they approach 70 we all realize, someday, they won’t be around anymore. So it was nice to sit at their table — just a small family holiday meal, no big festivities this year — and ponder our collective good fortune.

I’ve got a lot of unfinished business to take care of in December, however. A lot of chores. It was nice to get a four-day break — some years, you feel like you earned it more than others — but I’ve still got a lot to do in order for the year as a whole to feel like it was successful. Including finishing up a lot of writing due-outs which have been nagging at me the last few weeks. I’m dreadfully behind on completing the half dozen chapters of Emancipated Worlds I’ve been plinking on since the last chapter, I’ve got a draft on another book to complete and ship, and I’ve got perhaps half a dozen short fiction manuscripts sitting on my hard drive — all incomplete. If I were still in school, I’d feel panicked because I’d know if I didn’t get it all turned in before Christmas break, my grades would be hosed. As it is, I’m sort of miffed that I let another year come down to a scramble at the end; to get s**t done.

I’ve also got a lot of thinking to do, in terms of how I want to tackle 2011. I very much want next year to be my Year of Professional Writerly Production. Kevin J. Anderson laid it down in a recent blog post: the man produces more fiction annually than many of us have produced in an entire lifetime of writing. He is an animal. He is also from the same school of hard knocks as Dean Smith and Kris Rusch, so Kevin’s math missive isn’t for writers who like their writing advice candy-coated or wrapped in pretty artiste ribbon. He’s the writer’s work-a-holic, which perhaps explains why he’s also one of science fiction’s best-selling and and most prolific long-time pros. He’s a terrific example of what’s achievable when a writer focuses on the work. Not having done work. Not thinking about doing the work. Just doing the work. Day after day.

Again, it’s been a great year, and I don’t want to sound like I’ve not enjoyed it nor been very productive overall. But I know I can do better. In fact, I know I can do a LOT better. And not just with writing. With lots of things. I can push more distractions into my time management waste basket. I can get more done and feel more relaxed and in control doing it. I can got to bed more nights feeling like I’ve made the most of that particular day, and not fret over opportunities missed or minutes which have gone fruitlessly down the drain.