A Good Year

So, I was going to drop five paragraphs of in-depth, detailed, item-by-item recollection of the highs and lows of 2010, as promised. But then I realized two things. First, I seem to have already covered a good majority of last year already, as it occurred, even. It turns out I was writing about it the whole time, so going over it again seems a bit redundant.

Also, the past is the past. I don’t really live there anymore, and would much rather focus on the future, where I will be living soon. I have big plans, you see.

OK, fine, since you’re being so insistent and all up in my face, I’ll give you this much: in 2010, I got older, my kids got older obviously just to spite me), the Puddinette and I celebrated ten years of her putting up with me, I made good on a promise to write stuff (and did it well enough, apparently, that someone asked me to contribute to their blog), wrote half a novel, survived a trip to Poland, and made a few personal confessions.

That hits the major points, I guess. So then, where do we go from here?

Before proceeding, I feel compelled to point out that I Will Be Making No Resolutions here. As a rule, I am not a fan of them. I suppose that for a handful of people they might result in some form of progress or success, but in my experience New Year’s Resolutions are a party game. They’re as likely as Pictionary or Outburst to lead to actual accomplishment. Making any kind of Real Change in one’s life usually requires Real Motivation, not just playing along with everyone else at midnight after you’ve sucked down a gallon of Longislandtini and two quarts of champagne.

The only New Year’s resolution most people should make is not to throw up on their own slippers on New Year’s Day. At least that’s a somewhat realistic goal.

Of course, that’s not to say I’m skipping an opportunity to make a few changes around here. I’m not going to spend 2011 drifting on the wind, resting on 2010’s rather minor laurels. Last year was about proving that I was actually willing and capable of chasing what I’d always imagined were my dreams. This year, then, will hopefully be the start of producing them. So, yes, there are now additional goals and objectives in my life, and those are going to require a few adjustments to the way I live. To be more specific, I intended to write more and be more productive about it when I do. I’m hell bent on finishing a draft of my fledgling novel this year and beyond that, I’m going to try very hard to do something creative every single day.

In addition to more writing, I’m also going to figure out how all this networking business works and I might even attempt some form of brand marketing. There are literally billions of people out there, some of which aren’t spammers and many of whom are potentially interesting and might even want to following along on our little journey here. I started a fan page on facebook last year, with the goal of reaching 100 fans. The count is currently at 81. We need to double that number this year, somehow.

Oh, and my poor, generic-looking website needs some love. Sure, I like the simple grayish masthead, but would a little thought about its design really kill me? Adding some pictures probably wouldn’t hurt either. People like pictures. Apparently just not of my feet. If you know anything about web design and have suggestions for me, I’m all ears.

Finally, I want in on the Google pilot program for their ChromeOS laptop, the Google Cr-48 Chrome Notebook. I want one. I want one because I’ve already bought into the concept that Google will soon be running the world anyway, so I might as well get used to the equipment. And really, if my options are between a Google, Microsoft, or Facebook corporatocracy, Google seems the lesser of those possible evils. Their software works most of the time, and their mission statement doesn’t appear to include selling my privacy to China. And yes, sure, the whole ChromeOS thing is in a beta mode right now, which means lots of potential crashes, etc, but I’ve been running Windows for 20 years; I’m kinda used to that. So I figure now is a good time to find out exactly how well “living in the cloud” might work for me, especially with respect to writing.

Those, then, are the goals. My father, a very smart man who taught political science to high school students for years, always instilled one key point early in the school year: “those who succeed have a goal and a plan.” So, assuming I want to actually achieve any of the aforementioned, what’s the plan?

The first step is to start getting more sleep. This is going to be terribly difficult for me, but I’m pushing 40 years old. I should probably stop pretending that if I start a DVD at 1 am on Friday night I have any real chance of actually seeing Act III of whatever’s in the tray. Waking up in my chair and finding myself back at the menu screen has become rather more commonplace than I’d like to admit. Beyond that, I’ve made a habit of going to bed between 1 and 2 (sometimes later) even on work nights, ostensibly because I wanted time to do the things I wanted to do. What have I really been doing with all that late night time? Nothing terribly productive; catching up with DVR’d shows, streaming old episodes of Torchwood, or something like that. And don’t get me wrong, that’s all well and good, but it’s costing me productivity. I never write late at night, because my brain needs downtime after 11:30 PM. If I got up earlier, though, I could certainly do some writing before work. My creativity works just fine once it’s had a shower. Thank God for Irish Spring.

So, I’m saying goodbye to my late-night ways, at least for now. The part of me that wants to pretend to be perpetually twenty-something is screaming bloody murder and keeps telling me to fight The Man, but, well, I have become The Man, and sometimes creation starts with hard decisions. The idea here is that if I can drag my lazy, middle-aged self out of a warm bed an hour earlier every day, I’ll have an hour each morning to produce something creative. An extra hour means hundreds of words a day, words I didn’t write last year because I was nodding off as Adam Richman consumed an entire hog at 1:30 in the morning.

That, boys and girls, is how I’m going to finish the first draft of my novel without skipping days of Puddintopia rants on the evils of modern undershirt design. Because if nothing else, you’ve shown me that you seem to like it when I bring the crazy talk. So bring it, I will.

As for networking and marketing, I learned recently that you can really go a long way by just putting yourself out there a bit. I’ve already made more new friends in the past two months from writing for Hoperatives.com than probably the previous two years combined. That’s a trend that needs to continue. So I think it’s time to print up some (inexpensive) Puddintopia business cards printed and get out of the house. Beware, world, there’s a good chance I might be make an idiot of myself in front of you, very soon. Maybe someday I’ll have some shirts or baseball caps printed too.

When it comes to the Chrome Notebook, I’ve got a simple plan. Every day I’m going to submit a new application for the pilot program, with a different reason why I should be selected as a test user. For fun, I’m going to post my reasons on the Puddintopia home page so you can all play along. I’m going to keep it up until either they send me the darned thing to shut me up, or send me a cease-and-desist. My money’s on the latter, but I’m hopeful that they’re the kind of people with a sense of humor and an appreciation for persistence. I guess I’ll find out.

That’s my outlook for 2011. Am I full of it? Probably. I wouldn’t bet against you if you wanted to wager I’ll be back to my 2 AM ways by next Wednesday night. Honestly, nine times out of ten, The Plan never really comes together the way you think it will, anyway. If you’re smart though, you evolve as the path before you does and, with luck, you can still manage to wrestle those goals to the ground.

That’s the real plan for 2011, doing whatever it takes to cross the finish line at full speed.

A good year, a good life, doesn’t just happen floating on the breeze.

Pud’n

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