Saturday, December 31, 2005

My Year in Review

It's New Year's Eve again, and time for my "employee review." I was just re-reading my review from last year, and I kind of blew it.

My main resolutions were to get fit and to get my house in order, and sadly, I'm in worse shape now than I was then, and my house is an even bigger mess. I did manage to stick to my resolution of not dating just because I felt obligated (go me!), but to be honest, I don't recall even having the option of turning someone down, unless it was one of those really subtle situations where I managed to sidestep it entirely by giving off "not interested" vibes.

I did live up to my goal of selling another book -- two of them, in fact -- but they were both in this same series instead of being something different. On the other hand, I did get spots in three entirely unrelated anthologies, so that sort of counts. I never got around to the voice lessons or studying German.

But it's not as though this year was any kind of failure. It was a wild and crazy roller-coaster ride of a year. My book came out, and I had the thrill of getting lots of rave reviews not only from critics but also from fans (and I now have a backlog of fan mail I need to answer). The book did well enough to go into a second printing and for the publisher to buy two more in the series, and I have to remind myself of that when I let myself be disappointed by not becoming a surprise bestseller.

I got to walk the red carpet at a real Hollywood premiere. I made two trips to New York. I had a number of speaking engagements. I took an airline bump and ended up spending an extra night in a hotel with no luggage. I read a lot of books.

On the down side, I didn't spend nearly as much time as I would have liked with friends, mostly because I got so sidetracked by all the other wacky stuff that was going on. I lost several people who were close to me to cancer. I suppose that's like any year -- you're going to have good stuff and bad stuff.

So now for the year ahead. Maybe this will be the year I live up to all my ambitions.

I keep my resolutions lifestyle-oriented, which means they're more about making habitual changes rather than achieving something. And I'm going to make the same ones as always.
1. Get Fit.
Really. This time I may try to do it more gradually instead of starting all gung-ho and then losing interest. I've already been trying to take at least a fifteen-minute walk every day (may as well take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather). When that becomes a habit, I can intensify it.
2. Get My House in Order.
Really. Again, I think I'm going to start with minor changes and build on them. Last year I didn't bother to straighten up because I was planning to do a major overhaul. I think this year I'll start with straightening in small increments, and then do a gradual overhaul. I really want to streamline my life and get rid of the excess stuff.

And some new ones:
3. Get Out More.
Or maybe I should make that "reach out more." I've got a number of people in my life who might be considered contextual friends. I'm friends with them in the context of whatever it was that brought us together, like belonging to the same organization. We may hang out together at meetings and events, but the relationship doesn't extend beyond those boundaries. I need to be better about cultivating those friendships that show promise instead of just retreating back to my cave. If I get my house in order, then I could even (gasp!) invite people over.
4. Wear Shoes More Often.
That may sound weird, but I've noticed that just about every time I've had to be out and about for an extended period, I'm complaining about my feet hurting. Then I started thinking and realized that I've been working at home since 2000. I never go totally barefoot, but I do tend to wear flip flops in warm weather and socks or houseshoes in cold weather. That means my feet aren't used to being in shoes, so it stands to reason that if I'm in a situation where I have to wear shoes for more than a few hours, it's going to hurt. I'm not going to start wearing heels to sit around and write, but even if I just wear sneakers, it may help, and it also makes me more likely to get out and walk, which will help the fitness thing.
5. Write More Consistently.
I'm fortunate to be able to write pretty quickly, so I can get a full-length novel done in a few months, leaving me the rest of the year to do other stuff. But I've found that spending the rest of the year not writing on a regular basis makes it harder to get back into writing, so this year I'm going to try writing at least a little every day even when I'm not on deadline. That shouldn't be much of a problem for the first half of the year, as I have two books to get written, along with a couple of essays. It will be harder once the next book comes out and I'm doing so much promo for it.

I can't really think of any specific goals that aren't actually steps in the plans to achieve my resolutions, so I'm going to skip that this year.

Now for the things I already know I have to look forward to this year:
1. The Rose Bowl! UT is playing for the national championship. I already have the makings for chili con queso, so I'm set for the game.
2. In January I'll be going to Chicago for Rosa's memorial. It's a sad occasion, but it's also a chance to reconnect with friends, so it's bittersweet.
3. My agent is coming to town for a conference in late March, so I'll get to hang out with her on my turf.
4. Once Upon Stilettos comes out at the end of May, along with the Desperate Housewives book I have an essay in, so there's everything that goes along with all that -- reviews, booksignings, hearing from readers, etc.

I'm sure more will be added to this list as the year progresses. I don't know of any particular books or movies that I'll be counting down to yet. I seem to have a very bad case of tunnel vision, only seeing a few months ahead of me at a time.

I'm staying in this evening, just relaxing and (hopefully!) writing. I did go out with friends for a couple of years, and that's fun, but I also enjoy a quiet evening at home alone. The party I really wanted to go to this year is sponsored by my Radio for People who Remember WWII station, with big band dancing, but while I often socialize with the Greatest Generation, I wasn't sure I wanted to go to something like that alone. With a group of friends in my age range it could be a blast. Maybe I can scare up some people to go with next year.

Happy New Year!!! May it be a magical one.

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