I’m not the sort of person who makes new year’s resolutions.
In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever made any new year’s resolutions. Ever.
But yesterday, I wandered onto goodreads and fired up this little “reading challenge” widget they have. There’s not much to it. You set a goal for how many books you want to read over the course of the year, then this thing tracks your progress.
Last year I tried it on a whim and made my goal of 150 books even though I was sloppy about keeping track. This year I decided to shoot for 250, which is probably closer to what I actually read in a year.
Ever since I fired up that silly little widget, I’ve been thinking about new year’s resolutions. Which is odd, because, like I said, I don’t typically go in for that sort of thing.
Philosophically, the concept of making a resolution has never made much sense to me. It seems to me that if you really want to do something, you should just fucking do it. Resolving to do it is sort of a bullshit intermediary step. If I’m hungry, I don’t *resolve* to go eat lunch. I just find food and put it in my mouth. Simple. Problem solved.
So why am I thinking about New Year’s Resolutions?
I think the main reason is that I had a really great New Years. Some friends came to visit. We played board games, did some tabletop role-playing, and just hung out.
It was the most fun I’ve had in ages. And after everyone went home, I felt good. Not just happy, but physically and emotionally healthy. I felt like a million dollars.
No. I felt better than that. I felt like a second season of Firefly.
Seriously. A full 22 episode season. I felt that good.
Ever since then, I’ve been rolling it around in my head. 2011 was a pretty good year for me. Book two was finally published. The Wise Man’s Fear hit #1 on the New York Times. I met Terry Pratchett, got to perform at Wootstock, and attended some very cool conventions.
(Speaking of conventions. I’m Guest of Honor at Confusion later this month. You should swing on by if you can. Jim Hines is going to be there, as is Joe Abercrombie, Peter V. Brett, Brent Weeks….
Holy shit. Robin Hobb is going to be there too. I didn’t know that until I just checked their website. How awesome is that?)
But anyway, yeah. 2011 was my first official signing tour. I met thousands of my readers all over the country. (Though I realize now, as I go looking for a link, that I never got around to blogging about that. I probably should at some point.)
For now, a picture will suffice. Here’s a shot I took from the podium at my first signing of the tour in Seattle.
If you look at the highlight reel of 2011, it looks like I’m living the dream.
I’ve actually had people say that to me over this last year: “Congratulations! You’re living the dream!”
I know they’re just excited for me. But whenever I hear that, I think, “Whose dream? I don’t ever remember dreaming this….”
Now don’t get be wrong. Parts of this year have been profoundly cool. I love conventions. I love talking about writing and hanging out with readers. I love getting to meet authors that I’ve been reading my whole life.
But the fact remains that a lot of times, after going to a convention I feel exhausted and hammered flat on both sides.
On the other hand, after hanging out with my friends on New Years, I feel like I could lift a truck over my head with one hand, then go write for ten hours straight.
Looking back over these last couple years, I realize that most of my close friends left town back in 2007, just as my first book was getting published. They were getting jobs in other parts of the country, going to grad school, joining Americorp….
I missed them, of course, but I was plenty busy getting used to the whole published-author life. I started writing this blog. I signed up for Facebook. I did some signings, started attending conventions….
At the same time, I quit teaching at the University. Quit coaching fencing. Quit acting as advisor to the College Feminists.
When I look at things with the clarity of hindsight, it’s blindingly obvious what the end result of all this is: I’m suffering from a rather specialized sort of social isolation. The sort of isolation where I can go online at any point and interact with 10,000 people.
I never thought of it like this before, but hanging out with friends is psychologically healthy. Facebook and blogging and going to conventions is the social equivalent of eating Pringles. It’s fun. It’s tasty. It’s relatively harmless in moderation. But if you eat nothing *but* Pringles, you die.
Similarly, lack of genuine hanging out with real friends must lead to a sort of psychological scurvy.
This is the situation I’ve accidentally backed into.It wasn’t until I hung out with my old friends again that I realized how much I missed that. How much some part of me was starving.
So. Over these last couple days I’ve been thinking about my life. I’ve been thinking about the difference between things I do that are fun, and things I do that actually make me happy.
For example, playing some stupid flash game on my computer might be fun, but playing board games with my friends makes me happy.
Or, for another example, it might be fun to do a reading at a convention, but hanging out with little Oot makes me happy.
The difference seems to be this. If something is merely fun, it’s mostly enjoyable while you’re doing it. Something that makes you happy is different. It’s enjoyable afterwards, too. Minesweeper and cocaine are fun (reportingly.) But talking with Oot about ducks or watching Buffy with friends make me happy.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that fun doesn’t have its place. I plan on playing the hell out of Skyrim when I have the chance.
What I’m saying is that my priorities have gotten seriously out of alignment. These days, flying to San Diego for a convention don’t just feel easy, it seems like a professionally responsible for me to do. At the same time, driving down to Madison to hang out with friends, have dinner, and watch Avenue Q seems like an extravigant and impractical use of my time.
That’s some fucked up mental arithmetic.
So, in an effort to de-kink my thinkings, I’ve decided to make some changes to my life.
In fact, I’ve done more than merely *decide* to do these things. I’ve built up bad habits in these last years, and it’s going to take some effort to break them. So I’m going to *resolve* to do them.
Here they are:
1. I’m going to hang out with Oot at least two hours every day. I’m going to make it a priority, rather than something I try to fit in around the edges of the other stuff I have going on in my life.
2. I’m going to do my damnedest to hang out with my friends at least twice a month for the express purpose of playing games, hanging out, watching movies, and just generally dicking around.
3. I’m going to start exercising at least three times a week. Because, y’know, I don’t really want to die from author-related sitting-on-my-ass-ness.
At this point, the righteous self-improvement impulse starts to gather steam and I’m tempted to continue adding things. Turning this into a laundry list of me-betterment that include things like, “pet more fluffy kittens,” “smell even better,” and “floss regularly.”
But no. I’d rather pick three important things and actually do them, rather than list 50 things then get frustrated and quit after a month.
Why am I posting these things here on the blog?
The simple answer is because… well… writing things out helps me figure out where exactly my head is on a particular subject.
In fact, I just now realize that’s a lot of the reason I bother with the blog. If my friends still lived in town, I’d hang out with them and chat about this stuff in my living room, using them as a sort of sounding board. But since they don’t, I kinda hang out in my head with y’all and write blogs.
Which, now that I’m thinking about it, might be kinda crazy behavior.
The other reason I’m posting this up here is because I know myself pretty well. I’m prideful. If I make a public declaration like this, I’m much more likely to follow through with it.
Lastly, I figured I might as well post my musings up here with the hope they might be interesting/helpful to anyone else who is having trouble adjusting to this whole living life as a grown-up thing. I was really good at being a broke, mouthy, irreverent college student. But this being-an-adult shit can be really hard sometimes….
Feel free to post up your own resolutions in the comments. Especially if you’re like me, and think that going public might help you keep them.
Keep on tranglin,