Heck of a year, huh?
Of course, in reality, all the events we’re worrying about are on-going, but the psychological effect of crossing the calendrical boundary and entering 2021 is real, and it’s valuable.
There was a meme going around which summed it up pretty well – Don’t assume 2021 will be better, force it to be better with kindness and effort.
On my end, things have, naturally, slowed down for the holidays, so with some luck, January will be about building up speed and stamina once more. But it’s also been a chance to look back at the past year.
Two of the most valuable things I’ve done in 2020 have been paying attention to how I work – sitting down and figuring out what I’m actually doing and trying to achieve – and getting to grips with actual daily writing, moving past outlines to prose.
I’ve missed this kind of writing, and doing it has lead me to learn that I need to value what I actually achieve as opposed to what I think I should be achieving. Having high standards for yourself is generally thought to be a good thing, but when you ignore the value in what you do purely because you’re not reaching those standards? It’s a bad thing.
The trick isn’t to lower your standards – it’s to see that what you’ve achieved is still worthwhile. People sometimes say ‘aim for the moon and you’ll still land among the stars’, stuff like that, but if you want the moon, and you miss the moon, it is very easy to view anything other than the moon as a valueless failure. And failure shouldn’t be valueless.
Sure, maybe you learned something in the failing – but you probably also did something great, if you can look at it from the right perspective.
Maybe it’s great because you did better than the last time you tried, maybe it’s great because detached from your ambition it’s a cool piece of art or a cool experiment. It is rare that something is a flat out waste of time, that kind of total failure is actually pretty rare. There’s probably some small silver lining to the situation, and even if you can’t see it at the time, it’s okay to trust it’s there.
2020 has, for many people, been a year of bad things and suffering. But there are silver linings – people have worked really hard, in huge numbers, to reduce human suffering. Major scientific advances have been made and applied to coping with the pandemic. Protestors found strong voices.
None of this erases or undoes the difficulty, doesn’t mean we should ignore the suffering, the being parted from people we love and the fear produced by events this year. But all those negatives? They don’t undo the good, no matter how slim that good is.
I hope, as the year starts, that you all find good things in your lives, and that you find ways to make those good things – big or small – matter to yourselves and those around you.
As ever, thank you all so much for your support, and I look forward to trying to bring a ton of good stuff into the world this year.