July: 2012 goals

It’s half-past the first of July already. I should probably post an update on my resolutions for 2012. For those who are just tuning in, feel free to tune right back out again. I post progress (or lack thereof) on my New Years goals every month. It’s something I do to hold myself accountable, but I don’t expect anyone to actually read this.

If you don’t want to read on, I understand. In fact, here’s an awesome Beauty and the Beast parody to distract you. You’re welcome.

And now for the sad, sad facts:

Although I made significant progress on several projects this month (and last month) none of those projects were part of my New Years Resolutions. The big project that I’m working on wasn’t even a glimmer in my eye back in January. I say this so that folks will realize that I haven’t been sitting around twiddling my thumbs. I’ve just been diverted from my January goals.

Finish the second draft of my novel by April (September.) This may get pushed back even further than September. I am currently in the middle of another project that needs to be finished posthaste, so until that’s done, my novel will have to sit by and look on.

Get it sent to agents before summer. How ’bout before Christmas? Next summer? Before I turn 40?

Send out at least three short stories. I’ve been looking at markets for a few items, but I haven’t sent anything yet.

Read one two novels a month in 2012. I’ve been reading Swamplandia! by Karen Russell. Slowly. I should have stuck to my original goal here, but I got cocky back in March when I was cruising through four books a month.

Make at least $20 off a piece of fiction. Done in March. I get my first royalties this month, so I’ll see how much I really have made. Maybe I didn’t actually make more than $20.

Other goals: I also set to work on two of my big conflicts this year: My feelings about my faith and my issues with anxiety.

I am happy to announce that I made some real progress on the faith issue. I had to be really honest with myself, and that wasn’t easy, but I think I finally have a handle on my beliefs. I’m not going to write about that now. First I’m going to wait to see if my self-discovery is the real deal, then I will write an essay. I will say this: though I may have resolved my feelings about faith and God, I have not resolved my feelings about the church itself. I think that’s a separate issue.

As for anxiety, I’m still practicing the techniques I learned in the beginning of the year: mindfulness and taking action. I’ve also been thinking about the nature of fear. I haven’t made any other progress, but I have averted panic attacks so far, and that’s something.

New Years resolutions or New Years conflict resolutions?

For a while now, I’ve been feeling that it’s time to embrace New Year’s resolutions. I’ve also been thinking that this blog might be a good place to do this.

I know. New Years resolutions are boring. I can practically feel all of you unsubscribing.

But I have a model for this plan and an entertaining one: for as long as I have been following his exploits, author Matthew Dicks (a fellow Trinity grad) has posted his New Years resolutions on his blog at the beginning of each year. He then checks in monthly, reporting his progress on each goal, even if there has been no progress. This strikes me as a good way of laying out my goals and of holding my own feet to the fire.

When I mentioned this plan to my husband yesterday, he offered another idea: Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, use 2012 to work on some of my conflicts. Not external conflicts (although I have some fun ideas for resolving my conflict with the guy who keeps visiting our neighbors and parking in my spot) but the internal ones that seem to cause daily havoc. My husband knows all about these conflicts, since he has to listen to me talk them out for hours on end, so perhaps his suggestion is a little on the self-serving side.

I’m intrigued by the conflict resolution idea, but I see a couple of problems with it. For one thing, it’s a tall order. Let me give you an example. Here’s a resolution I was thinking of making: Go back to church at least once a month. Here’s the underlying conflict that needs to be resolved: I made a promise to the Catholic church, but my beliefs have wandered far, far away from church doctrine and I’m not sure I can keep my promise without being a hypocrite.

You can see the difference between the two. Going back to church once a month is easy and measurable and doesn’t lay the troubles of my soul bare for all the Internet to see. On the other hand, working on the conflict will probably create lasting change. And then there’s another problem. If I’m just making resolutions, I can make a long list of goals, but if I’m going to devote time to my inner conflicts, I can only choose one or two and then I have to figure out how to measure them, because if I am actually going to do this, I need to hold myself accountable in some way. Right now, long essays – which I will try to publish – seem the best way of doing this.

I don’t know. I haven’t decided yet. There is a lot of merit to a list of achievable New Year’s resolutions. There’s value in goals like Get an agent by July or Get thee to a dentist. I will have to come to a decision in the next 24 hours. 2012 ought to be a productive year, even if it the Mayans are right and it is the very last year.