I’m not a bad person, I just do bad things.
|Things To Do|
Wait. I don’t mean bad things. I mean I do things—or don’t do things—that make me feel guilty. Guilty for not doing things or guilty for should-be-doing things. Guilty for not doing enough of the right things. Sounds a bit crazy and confusing? It is. It can be.
I like order. I like lists. I take pride in my to-do lists, even when they are a key source of self-loathing when I fail to accomplish impossible and over-achieving goals set for each day. I somehow feel that setting unrealistic goals motivates me to accomplish the majority of my ambitions; aim for the stars and maybe you'll reach the sky, or something John Lubbock said.
My process is nothing new. I have written about this self-defeating/self-fulfilling strategic plan before:
“I have deliberately sabotaged nearly every day of my writing life with my to-do list. It is aggressive. It is unrealistic. It demonstrates my illusions of grandeur....Yet I continue to carry on this habit, this self-punishment. Because it works for me.”
Each year I take stock of things I accomplished, things I didn’t quite check off the list, and, eventually, this transitions into setting goals for the year ahead. This all translates into more lists: lists of accomplishments,
lists of to-dos right now, lists of
to-dos for the new year, lists to remind myself how I, and we, can exercise literary
citizenship. I sometimes make lists of lists to make.
So, as December winds its way down, I’m drawn into my usual end-of-year assessment. Last year was apparently “A Tale of 100 Submissions.” In the middle of 2013, I did some self-reflecting and paid mind to needing to downsize some ambitions in order to accomplish bigger goals and keep my sanity. But I also swore to myself that I would not be a hypocrite and that I would, seriously, make my blog more of a priority. I changed up the blog design and set goals publicly—and then failed to execute what I set out to do.
It’s not that blogging is a make or break activity that defines whether or not I am a good person. I actually want to be consistent with my blog. I enjoy writing posts—for myself and for my readers. But the guilt also sets in when I think of emerging and fellow writers who turn to me in my social media workshops and who consider that I know something about this stuff. You’re a full-time writer! You’re good at all that social media stuff! You’re so organized! Oh, please. I’m human. I’m flawed in the most fumbling ways.
That means, in the big picture to-do list of priorities, the blog usually suffers.
|These Other Things|
In 2013, counting posts only before today, I posted a humbling 37 times to my blog. That’s a little embarrassing. Rather than wallow in my guilt, though, I’m taking action. I’m posting today, obviously, but I’ve also been making notes and plans for topics I’d like to blog about. I have a handsome list (!) accumulating blog post plans and I’m genuinely excited to write more for this venue.
And, really, I don’t feel too bad about being a bad blogger this year. It’s been a great year for me, otherwise. I’ve been busy—overwhelmingly so, but in ways that I feel so blessed to count as Good Things Accomplished in 2013. I traveled—for business and pleasure—to twenty states and two provinces. I worked with the wonderful editorial team at Accents Publishing in preparation for the new poetry book, Square Feet. I finished polishing a new nonfiction book that was contracted this year by Bloomsbury and will be published in late 2014. And I checked so many little—but important-to-me—tasks
my to-do list that I can’t feel bad about not accomplishing everything I set
out to do this year. I can’t feel that
bad about not blogging more than I did.
But I can aim higher for the year to come. I can accomplish something as simple as posting more often on my blog. I will make this a goal and I will put a realistic plan into action. Which brings me back to assessing the year that was, planning for the year to come, and having fun creating a full-of-hope, full-of-ambition new list of to-dos. Because old habits die hard and I do love those lists…
It looks like I’m going to need a bigger coffee cup for 2014.