The year is dead. Long live the year.

Today is the day traditionally ascribed to engaging in the high speed destruction game, called ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ which is like Brockian Ultra-Cricket, but somewhat faster and nastier. I’ve already managed to break three of mine, beating the previous record 2.5 seconds. The Umpires are deciding on the fourth. How are you going?

I will concede: ‘spend less time on facebook’ was really an easy target. ‘Concern yourself more with writing than current affairs’ was always playing breaker on the easy setting too. ‘Be inspired, bounce out of bed eager and fresh to face each day’ was rather handicapped by a late old year’s eve and the aches and pains of yesterday. ‘Write more’ is still with the umpires.

It’s a strange game, but I like it. It’s a bit like me, short, coarse, nasty and brutish, and with no particular reason to be. You might say it has natural audience appeal, which, after all, is something well-selling writers advise wannabes to try to target.

Seriously: I have decided that 2018 is the year of getting things done. The world is changing all by itself, a lot of pendulums have been pushed as far (or close) as they’ll go. We can second-guess the future to heart’s content (or dissatisfaction, more likely). That after all is part of being a writer of speculative fiction, because if you’re going to do that well, it has to be plausible. Reality can be and often is implausible. Fiction can’t be, because it has to suspend disbelief by being believable. Reality, of course can just be real (and people still won’t believe it). These things will happen.

But getting finished won’t.

I say this as a guy with far more unfinished projects than I like to admit to. And I also say this as the guy who may not be very good at it, but DOES finish most of them. Look, no matter how inspiring a story is, or the dream of new shed is… there is a lot of work, and quite a lot of it tedious and repetitive, between the desire, the start… and done.

For many of us – me especially – the line between ‘done’ and ‘perfectly-finished-to-my-satisfaction’ is the perfect illustration of Xeno’s paradox. In fact, rather than making tortoise-on-arrow kebabs, the tortoise keeps getting further away. Which is why I have decided that 2018 is the year of getting ‘done’. Yes, it’s not perfect, but it’s time to declare it done and move to the next book. I have several projects like that, just not quite over the edge. I know several friends who have been refining books for years. I also know a fair few who refuse to declare an unwinnable prospect ‘done’. I’m one of them. Sometimes, of course, it’s just a matter of persistence. But when persistence is stopping you from ever doing anything else…


‘Perfectly-finished-to-my-satisfaction’ may have to try again in 2019.

OK, I’m done here.

It could be better, but I’m done. Time for the next project.

May the New Year be a better than the old year.





  1. I don’t make resolutions. I’m told the Babylonians did, and look where it got them. The only “resolution” I made was to stop chewing tobacco, mid December of 1991. Kept it, too, Had a strong motivator.

    One reason I don’t do resolutions is the lack of sufficient motivation. The other is the lack of things really under our control. Chewing tobacco is under our control, and giving sufficient motivation is possible to decide to stop. Other things … eh. We think they are, but then it turns out we get a curve ball, or that it wasn’t under our control at all.

    Thus, I don’t make resolutions. That gives me the closest to a reasonable facsimile of a Happy New Year.

    May you have a real Happy one.

  2. The perfect is the enemy of the good (and vice versa)

    Some things need to be perfect (or as close as possible) – diving regulators for example – others don’t benefit from excessive polishing

    Or – as my boss has said at various times – “shipping” is a key feature of every successful product

    1. Aye. The difference between “good enough” and “without discernable flaw” drives many arguments in my household, especially when it comes to home improvements and cleaning.
      (If you’re wondering which side of the fence I fall on, I’ll note that my grandfather used 5″ lag bolts to mount curtain rods. My wife was horrified when we discovered this, and more so that I thought it brilliant. I told her that you couldn’t argue with the results, but she sometimes doesn’t listen.)

  3. Less of a resolution and more of a change in attitude and focus. I am going to be focusing on short fiction in 2018. There seem to be more markets for short genre pieces now (or perhaps I’m just more aware of them) and I have developed solid working relationships with several editors who specialize in anthologies and/or magazines.

    I think that short fiction lets me explore new concepts and new forms of storytelling in ways that would not be feasible in a novel length project. And I think that my own strengths as a writer–my lyrical prose and talent for arresting imagery–work best in a short form.

    The main challenge is changing my attitude that novels are “real writing” and that short fiction is second best–something that authors who aren’t good enough to write novels do.

    So I’ll be trying to keep in mind authors like Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Frederick Brown, George Alec Effinger, and Robert Sheckley who wrote short fiction for the bulk of their careers and produced some damned fine stories.

    1. Misha, I’ve heard the opposite, novels were for writers who can’t do short fiction. I’m going to be trying to finish at least one story a month. My goal is 5k a week, and since I tend to write novelette and novella length, it’s doable.

      Good luck with your short stories. I look forward to reading some.

  4. Made a resolution many, many, many years(decades?) ago. No more New Year resolutions. Kept it very well thank you. I now set goals and things to do. Last year didn’t get many completed, and I picked up a bunch of stuff in the middle.
    Goals for this year is to keep writing at my output that I managed to maintain last year. Publish some of my stuff and get it out there. Figure out what can be sent to magazines and start the send, rejection, send again treadmill. If I am lucky I may make enough for a couple cups of coffee this year. 🙂

  5. Not gain any more weight if I can help it (allowing for medical monkey-wrenches). Finish the WIP and get at least one more novel written this year. Get serious about setting apart Day Job Time and Writing Time so I’m not tempted to allow one to spill into the other. Read two titles from my TBR pile.

    As for the rest? I plan on going to the gym tomorrow, assuming I can squeeze in past all the people absolutely determined to start the new year by exercising and getting back in shape. 🙂

    1. I have resolved to get fat, sleep less, and make less money. It makes it all the more satisfying when I break *those* resolutions. *grin*

  6. I resolve to not kill any idiots this year. 😉

    (Yes, it can be hard not to do so. 👿 )

  7. 8:30AM in one of the only parts of North America not frozen harder than a witch’s heart. Happy New Year, all.

    Ever notice that when Midnight strikes and the Big Ball drops in NYC (or wherever they have it in your time zone) and everybody yells and the crackers go off… nothing changed? Everything is 100% continuous and exactly the same.

    Perhaps its a measure of my Oddness, but that has always bothered me. Every single milestone out there, birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, New Years, they’re all fake. Made up. They don’t -do- anything. This is very disturbing. Something is supposed to HAPPEN when its a new year, dammit!

    1. I celebrated the solstices in Alaska, because it is the tipping point of the change – and while the change is not immediate, it is happening all around. It doesn’t take very long in Fairbanks to watch the day go by on winter solstice, but when the sun touches the horizon and you open the flask of boiling coffee that you shuffled out with to watch the sun rise, toss the dregs in the air and watch them float away in a fine mist of ice crystals, it’s with the solid assurance that tomorrow will be longer, and the sun is now coming back.

      Midsummer – summer solstice (and I don’t care what the official dates from the seasons are; they’re about as untied to reality as the “noon is when the sun is overhead” rule is above the arctic circle) – is a celebration of summer, but also a sharp reminder that half the year is gone, and even as the sun comes back out over the mountains at 4am while you’re still partying, the breeze has a bite of snow off the glaciers, the new day will be shorter than the last, and winter is coming… What have you gotten done?

    2. 8:30AM in one of the only parts of North America not frozen harder than a witch’s heart. Happy New Year, all.

      I just knew there would be some mention of Hillary.

      1. It is possible, barely, that she is kept undead by necromancy, and this cold-snap is them charging her up.

  8. Get back to writing, actually finish the book I’m working on (without my characters hijacking it on me again), etc.

    I should have a desk again with in the next week or so. (Haven’t had one since the tree came though the house in October.)

  9. Today is another day. I have some long term projects I’ve been working towards for weeks or months. I had a little useful progress yesterday. Today? I ought to get some things done.

    Resolutions? Those are merely a set of goals set, measured and adjusted over a year’s time scale. I’m currently challenged managing goals over a much short time frame. I think I need to improve that from the bottom up, along with project management, time management, etc…

  10. I’m going to have to toss a red flag to the officials on at least one of your resolutions. I refuse to believe that you have already spent more time on Facebook in 2018 than you did in all of 2017. Unless you’re one of the least Facebook-addicted people out there, that one is still in play.

    I don’t have New Year’s Resolutions precisely, but I do find it as good a time as any to pause and take stock. Every New Year’s Eve, I write two emails, one to past-me saying how I did in the past year, and one to future-me, expressing my thoughts of where I think I should be going. I find it helpful, especially looking back. When I’m in the middle of everything, it’s too easy to lose track and assume I’m not doing anything right. Actually listing the accomplishments makes me realize just what I have done.

    I want this to be the year that I try to launch a writing career. Plan is to write 3-4 novels this year with the idea that by the end of it, I will have something worth polishing and putting up for sale.

  11. This year, I resolve to finish 4 stories. Even if they’re execrable, I need the practice at actually finishing what I write. Peter will probably publish at least 4 novels, but hey, we’re at totally different places on that path.

    My other goals for the year include losing 35 pounds, to arrive at NeverMind, and deadlifting my bodyweight (That’ll be more challenging if I don’t make the first goal!)

    Oh, and learning to fly gliders. I can do powered airplanes, but flying without a motor takes more skill, timing, situational awareness of wind and weather, and precision. It’ll be good for me!

    1. The thing about gliders that has always bothered me is: no do-overs. Applying power and going around because you didn’t line her up right, I view that as a nice safety feature in a machine that hurtles through the air at immense speeds.

      Remember friends, 30 miles an hour doesn’t sound like much… until you start sliding down the road on your jeans approaching something solid. That’s when you really come to a full appreciation of speed. >:D

      1. A lot of gliders were used in WWII. Their pilots mostly got a raw deal, at least the US ones.

          1. Grandfather (dad’s) was landed about two weeks after D-Day. So he saw a lot of the glider wrecks walking forward to the front. His reaction when he found out that I was starting gliding lessons was, “ARE YOU INSANE!?” 😀

    2. Old joke from glider pilots.
      “What’s the propellor for on a powered plane?”
      “It’s to keep the pilot cool, because when it stops spinning. He starts sweating”
      Having had my gliders license at one point all I can say is that it’s a blast. More skill and ability to fly then with powered license. Axiom was that it was easier for a glider pilot to learn to glide then the other way around. A powered pilot has so many skills and muscle memory reactions to unlearn versus going the other way.

      1. I can vouch that for a power-plane driver to learn gliders takes a fair bit of suspending what you think should be done. Granted, I only did aero-tow (hauled aloft by an airplane with a motor) and not winch or car-tow, so some things were not quite as strange.

        1. Oh, I got the majority of my launches by winch. What a rush. 30 seconds from ground to free flight and for the majority of the launch you are between 30 and 45 degrees angle. 🙂
          Winch launching was a lot cheaper then air tow launches. Something like two bucks versus fifteen at the time (mid 80’s).
          Should do a blog post about it and include pictures of my log book to boot.

  12. True, but on the other hand, flying a 70-odd year old airplane, I spend a lot of time looking for emergency landing sites. (It’s a thing pilots are always taught to do, but the guys flying glass panel cockpits and leather-seated go-fast machines don’t seem to do as much of it.) And in this part of the world, well, it’s like G-d make Oklahoma and North Texas to be all good landing spots, and chock full of convenient roads for a team to come get you, so you don’t have to hike for two weeks or await a search & rescue party. And I have some off-airport landing experience, so it’s not a new concept to me.

    Frankly, the driving there and back is more worrisome. In the air, you can get lots of separation from traffic – on the road, everyboy’s squeezed together with very little separation and only a shoulder for dodging. You can’t even climb at full power or dive to get away…

    1. > rescue party

      The US astronauts came down in water. Soviet cosmonauts landed on the ground. We eventually found out that the cosmonauts were carrying rifles up into orbit. That apparently started when one landed in a remote area. With wolves.

      I wondered why they couldn’t just stay in the capsule with the door shut until the recovery team arrived. Maybe the answer to that is on the web somewhere now…

      1. Consider that if our program had come down on the ground. We might have gotten sued for coming down on someone’s field or something. Soviet government could just make someone accept the wrecked field, but they probably aimed for an empty place anyway. But where in that empty place do you land? How far is the rescue crew? How long do they take? They probably had to assume that there was an unpredictable chance of landing where the capsule didn’t have enough to keep them fed and warm while they waited for someone to show up.

        Where at sea, we could have a ship in the area, and move it with the tracking updates. That lets us minimize the expected time to recovery.

  13. I’ve done New Year’s Ambitions since I was in high school (a million years ago). Last night over a glass of Real Cider I was writing down some for this year, starting with what I want to complete on my writing/publishing by the end of January.

    It tired me out so much I closed the laptop and started cleaning the house (and after a year of DIY projects, oy, does it need cleaned).

  14. I’ve decided on just one Resolution this year, and that is to make SOMETHING creative every week. A woodturning, a piece of jewelry, a Sunday Vignette, a pumpkin pie. At least one SOMETHING. I figure at the end of this year I will have 52 SOMETHINGS to contemplate (minus of course the ones I ate.) That will be a vast improvement in creative productivity over my past few years.

    The greatest obstacle I face is that there would be no dire consequences of not meeting this goal. There would also be no to-be-devoutly-desired benefits of meeting it (except being able to eat pumpkin pie for breakfast occasionally.) Unlike some of my woodturning friends (and some of you authors here) I am not internally driven to make things. I just enjoy it, when I get around to doing it.

    So how does one motivate oneself to stay on pace, when the rewards are minimal, the punishments non-existent, and no one else really cares?

    Regardless, I wish a HAPPY NEW YEAR! to all of you and may you find your goals reachable.

  15. I gave my self a New Years scold. “Really, Pam! You know you need to go back to Low Carb! Your brain works better. Your allergies are better. You even sometimes manage to lose weight. Think of your knees, and step away from the . . . Are you listening to me? M&Ms are NOT LOW CARB AND YOU DON’T GET A FREE PASS JUST BECAUSE IT’S COLD!!!!

    1. M&M’s aren’t good for you.

      Reese’s Peanut-Butter Cups are a different matter. 😉

      1. That one profile the article had to be made up by a troll, or has to be the most messed-up person in existence. Either way, I would not go to that person for advice on anything.

        1. Sometimes trolls have good advice. Publishers would not be in financial trouble if they were selling to diverse audiences like homophobes. For this reason, every book should be censored so it does not include material offensive to persons of homophobe identity.

      2. Pansexual and asexual? That would seem to me to be claiming to be both A and Not A, and there by be impossible in any form of logical discussion.. then again I’ve yet to see sensitivity reader discussed with anything resembling logic.

        1. They don’t like logic. I’ve actively gotten ‘reason/logic is a patriarchal construct’ thus they don’t use it. This was around the Gamergate days; then they got really, really upset when it was pointed out that they lose any ability to dictate ‘what is reasonable.’

          1. No, it just means they won’t be getting that ability peacefully, or honestly. They just have to deceive and threaten to get the power to dictate.

  16. I’m resolving to increase my income significantly. Unfortunately, i won’t be really writing fiction per se.

    1. Did y’all notice the ‘About Us’ section in the form below is not quite filled out?

  17. Excellent resolution. I just looked at my half-done projects … They seem to multiply like rabbits. I need to skewer them and get them roasting again.

  18. This year I resolve to FINISH at least the first book in the current two book pick up sticks WIP. I shall be attempting a short story a week, but that is not a resolution. (ON the other hand I just found my notebook with short story ideas, so it may have just gotten easier.)

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