Pivot points and shooting for the moon

The beginning of a new year is definitely a pivot point, a place you can stand and turn in any direction you please. Personally, I’m not a fan of looking backward but it’s helpful when figuring out what you want to do going forward. Isn’t there a saying about people who don’t study history are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past? I can’t remember the exact wording but I know it’s something along those lines. I’m not keen on repeating any of the bad stuff, but it helps to look at it, as well as appreciate the good stuff. So looking back is kind of necessary in order to pivot successfully, I feel.

Hate that.

Oh well.

So, 2015. Most people have already done their posts about 2015 but a/I was busy and b/I kind of like combining the past and the future at this moment in time.

Last year had some major triumphs and some massive challenges.

Triumph #1 – coming off my depression medication

No one told me I had to, although my doctor voiced his concerns when it obviously wasn’t working anymore and I was on such a high dose we didn’t really have any wriggle room. I only set out to decrease the dosage to the point where I could come off it and go onto something else, something more effective. An unusual case of aiming low and hitting a lot higher than anticipated. It took several months, I worked out the reduction plan myself and stuck to it, while making some fairly major changes to my diet, and it worked. I won’t lie and say it’s all been sunshine and roses ever since, but I know the difference between depression and a bad day and since coming off the meds, the bad days were just that – bad days.

There have been a lot of good days too.

Triumph #2 – launching Be A Bard

This has been a rollercoaster, so many ups and downs I barely knew where to put myself at times. I started a Kickstarter and cancelled it almost immediately. I’m still very much on the fence about Kickstarter. I know part of it is me not liking to ask for money. In fact, the biggest part of it is probably me not liking to ask for money. There are also other fears, like “what if people don’t like it?” and “what if everyone rips the piss out of my artwork?” but the main issue is me not liking to ask for money. To date, only two people haven’t liked the game and not a single person has been shitty about the art. It’s impossible to please everyone, so I continue to be shocked more people haven’t hated the game but it is what it is. And what it is is a game that about 95% of players love to somewhere near obsession and tell me I should crowdfund. So…yeah.

But it is now a THING. An IN PRINT THING, albeit in a small, limited edition run of pretty hand-cut decks in pretty hand-stencilled boxes. I’m proud. My hands hate me but I’m proud. It even (very nearly) has a home – the website is in the pipeline, just waiting for me to sort some stuff. Hoping to get a buy link up there, so that people can just buy it without having to message me and me send them a PayPal invoice and so on and so forth. Around twenty people did that, though – sent me money for a deck before I got it printed up. In some cases, multiple decks. MULTIPLE. DECKS.

To say I was gobsmacked is an understatement. Ten percent of the run was spoken for before it went to print. Not bad for a completely unknown game maker with a completely unknown game.

Triumph #3 – meeting my fiancé

Unlike the two triumphs above, this was not something I actually put any effort into so I can’t really take any credit for it. I mean, I didn’t DO anything. I was simply sitting there, minding my own business, espousing the unconsidered benefits of chickens in fantasy fiction, and Richard just kind of showed up. And continues to do so. He’s a blessing, not even slightly in disguise, and definitely belongs on this list.

Triumph #4 – consistently attending Pilates

This may not seem like much to you, but (more or less) consistently attending a Pilates class once a week for the last three months (I think I missed three classes out of thirteen) has revolutionised my back issues. I’ve found I can’t sit up in bed for very long, my back still HATES that, but the everyday twinges I used to get, as well as the guerilla sciatica, have almost entirely vanished.

So that’s the list of awesome things. The list of not-so-awesome things (ie, horribly gnarly challenges) can pretty much be condensed down to me being afraid – afraid I wasn’t good enough, afraid I would never be good enough, afraid to believe in myself in case my faith turns out to be misplaced, and afraid of what others might think of me. These are all fears to work on eliminating this year. I discovered a long time ago that acting from a place of fear is never a good thing – the only problem is that when I’m scared, this principle is the first one I forget!

And so we end 2015 and look forward… to 2016!! YAY!!!!!

The Shoot For The Moon Challenge

As befits our yearly tradition, SJ and I sat down on Tuesday and went through our year just gone and established our goals for our year to come. Mine are as follows:

Write fiction every day – even if it’s only a hundred words, it counts. The important thing is the daily practice.

Blog every day – I used to do blog every day. Then I stopped. Recently I started doing morning pages, which became pretty much the same thing as daily blogging. So now the blog will once again be my morning pages.

Read two books a week, one fiction, one non-fiction – the biggest thing missing from my life right now is a regular refilling of the creative well. Both fiction and non-fiction do this, I think, as well as both helping me to learn various things, either about my craft, others’ perception of the world or just how things work.

Exercise – I’m happier and healthier and more productive when my body is physically tested on a daily or near-daily basis. Between rowing (Richard’s rowing machine is now installed in my garage), Pilates, skipping rope and dogwalking, I’m pretty sure I have this covered.

Encourage others in their creativity – whether it’s through Be A Bard, conversations with friends or simply in my interactions with the world at large, this is my most fervent belief: everyone is creative. Some people just need a little more encouragement.

Some of these goals are specific. Others are more nebulous. The principle remains the same. Establish a daily practice. Maintain it consistently. See what happens.

I suspect what will happen is exponential growth. The biggest challenge, of course, will be in maintaining the daily aspect of the practice. But I figure if I could spend my twenties (and part of my thirties) getting myself into offices I hated five days out of seven, I can now, in my own home, work towards goals which will make me very happy five days out of seven. Ideally seven days out of seven, but we’ll see. The daily bit is the key. Actual quantities achieved are not such a concern right now.

This is my pivot point. I used to set a goal and the minute I slipped I would abandon the whole thing and count myself a failure. I was so scared of not being good enough that I never even came close to seeing how good I really was, let alone how good I could be. I would give up at the first blip, secure in the knowledge that I had already failed and there was no point in keeping on.

I’m not going to do that anymore. Consistent daily action is the only thing I am really going to work at and if one day it doesn’t happen, that’s okay. I’ll just get right back on it the next day. The fact is, I know I can do something towards at least one of the above areas every day, so the chances of a completely dead day are almost nil. And those are odds I can live with.

What about you? What’s your pivot point? More importantly, where are you going to go with it?