Hello, everyone. I'm back from Christmas weekend hiatus! It was nice to have a few days away from everything and I was especially glad to not be trying to put posts together with the level of internet access I had where I was visiting. No wireless for my netbook, very little data signal on my phone, and a balky connection on the desktop PC made for a very 1990s internet experience. Fortunately, there was nothing I had to be doing, so I largely unplugged for those several days.
My phone was good for receiving/sending email, though, and I got some good news Christmas morning. Kazka Press has accepted my story "Credit Where Credit Is Due" in their December fiction contest. If all goes according to plan, it will be live on their site January 1st. I'll make sure to post a link here so anyone who wants to do so can go read it.
Given that I didn't pick back up with writing until late-July I've got to say that 2011 has been an absolutely phenomenal writing year for me. I've completed a couple dozen short stories, finished the first draft of a novel during NaNoWriMo, and made over 100 short fiction submissions to a wide variety of markets. Naturally, I'd like it if I had a few more acceptances to report, but I'm reasonably confident that 2012 will bring some more of them.
Along with feeling good about how 2011 has gone, there have been some days when I've said "Hey, why haven't I been doing this the last twenty years?" I've talked before about my sporadic writing history. In brief, I wrote a lot as a child, took my writing very seriously in 1990 and 1991 and then stopped. I picked it up every now and again -- I've got several stories I originally wrote in 2007 that I'm still circulating -- but my entire 1992-2010 output is probably smaller than my December 2011 output.
What really brought this home was a recent conversation where I was talking with my wife and daughters about how excited I was to have a couple of stories which appeared to be getting serious consideration at the pro-rate markets to which they were currently submitted. (Alas, one of those has since been rejected...) I mentioned to the girls that getting three pro sales allows one to join the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and that this is something I’d had as a goal since I was about the age my oldest daughter is now. To which she replied, "And yet, we've only heard about this the last few months" or words to that effect.
She's right. I'd let this dream sit essentially idle for nearly two decades. And I do regret that. I would venture to say that most people have regrets about things ranging from the trivial to the gigantic, and not just in our writing lives. So, how do we deal with these regrets?
As with so many things, avoiding the extremes is critical. Letting the regret overwhelm me, saying something like "If I had kept it up those two decades, maybe I could have got somewhere, but I put it off too long and, besides, I’ve got too many other things I should be doing now..." would only exacerbate the situation.
Similarly, failing to acknowledge the regret and learn something from it means that I will have failed to learn from mistakes and increases the chance I'll make new decisions in the future that I'll then end up regretting down the line. Instead, I've been trying to take those feelings and channel them into keeping forward momentum working on my writing.
This measured approach to dealing with our regrets can apply to goals in life besides our writing goals. I've also always wanted to travel to Europe, but have never done it. Yes, that may have been easier when I was in my twenties than it will be when I'm in my forties. But that doesn't mean that I need to regret past choices and give up on these goals and dreams.
If you've been letting yourself get weighed down with your regrets, take time to think about what lessons you can learn from them and use that information to propel yourself forward. You may be amazed at just what you can do.