Seize the day and be awesome right now

So, we had that Mayan apocalypse scare on December 21st. You know what it reminded me of? New Year’s Eve.

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Turns out that Auld Lang Syne is actually a summoning spell.

No, what I mean is that everyone was joking about how they’d spend their “last day”, or what they’d do on December 22nd if the world continued to turn. A few folks actually planned how they would survive The End Of The World. Basically, we were all prompted to think about our finite lives and our day-to-day choices. It’s the same acute sense of time passage and goals that prompts people to make New Year’s resolutions. Start that diet, quit that bad habit, volunteer for that charity.

Why do we do this? Why do so many people wait for a big landmark or an averted crisis before they even consider changing their ways? Every moment of every day, we are free-willed beings who can make decisions and take action. I guess it’s just easy to get bogged down in the mundane details of all those moments and days. And it’s easy to be creatures of habit who don’t change our comfortable routines — unless an unavoidable calendar date ruins the routine for us. And sometimes our goals are overwhelming, because they’re expensive or difficult or beyond our immediate grasp. These are seemingly good reasons to wait until New Year’s (or the apocalypse). Seemingly good reasons.

But we’re always mortal beings working on a timer. We’re always sentient, and able to question the world around us. And sometimes, even if the odds are against you, you just need to try anyway. Nothing will get done without a first step.

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For years now, I’ve quipped that I don’t make New Year’s resolutions; I just resolve to be awesome every day of the year. And I mean what I say. If I genuinely want something, I don’t vaguely suppose that I’ll New Year’s resolve to do it. I’ve just never seen the point of putting off thought like that.

The day I decided to self-publish Remedy was August 23rd, 2010. That was the biggest day of resolution in my life so far. I was on a bus headed away from New York City, after a lunch meeting with an Actual Publishing Person. And despite my giddiness at being acknowledged in such a way, I had still been dismissively told to make my Stories of Aligare “more like Redwall” as well as “more like A Song of Ice And Fire”. I’m assuming those pieces of advice were meant to be taken separately, because if you think the stories of Aligare are too weird to sell in Barnes & Noble, then, well, you sure won’t like the sales prospects of mouse incest.

At any rate, an accredited expert had just informed me that my chances of a traditional publishing contract were infinitesimally low, because my work was not normal enough to be worth reading. But that’s okay — I had been pursuing traditional publishing just as a first attempt. Now, it was late 2010 and the Kindle was still new. Ebooks and print-on-demand were still a tiny niche. The vast majority of sources still said that only losers and failures stoop to self-publishing.

But there I was in the sunlit seat of a Greyhound bus, deciding to publish myself. The tools weren’t highly regarded but I did have those tools at my disposal. In that moment, I guess it would have been easy to fear the changing future. It would have been easy to say, “I’ll just wait a few years and see.” In my position, I’m sure a lot of people would have chosen to wait. They would have put their manuscript in the metaphorical drawer and thought maybe. Maybe this ebook thing will be just a passing fad. Maybe it’s too risky.

Skeleton-Drinking-Beer-Coffee-Art-Sculpture-Skull-Starbucks

But again, that’s not how I do things. I was frustrated with how my efforts had been going, and there was no indication that gathering more Dear Writer rejection letters would help me. Heck, this particular Greyhound bus even had Wifi, something I had never encountered before. Why not get started that very moment? So I did. I updated my blog, bookmarked a few advice blogs on self-publishing, and began rewriting Remedy’s first chapter. I had officially begun. Sometimes just the fact that you’ve taken one step is enough encouragement to take another.

I published Remedy on February 14th, 2011. That first effort certainly wasn’t perfect. There are a lot of small things I’d change if I could go back in time. But in general, I regret nothing. And I don’t think waiting 4 months to make it a New Year’s resolution would have helped me in any particular way. It would have been 4 months I could have told Peregrine’s story in, and didn’t.

So in general, I think everyone should do some of that carpe diem we’re always quoting. You know, if there’s no good reason not to. If the only real obstacle is intimidation. There’s always room to do some research, lay some groundwork or just make a trial run. It’s not like the world will end if you do.



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