Forgetting and Resetting Expectations
A personal plan for progress
I started the new year with great anticipation and excitement. I intended to change the course of my writing, art, and publishing efforts. I talked about doing it first. Making it the priority. I wanted to exercise, get in better shape, and have fun with my family. I left my old position for a new one with the library—giving up "advancement" in favor of focusing on interests and not managing people. Sound familiar? I'm sure some of you also set goals or expectations about the new year. How did it go?
The pandemic's grip loosened a bit, and people decided to ignore it more. The specter is still haunting us, still killing people, making people sick, but we also became more used to reinfections. People shucked off their masks and started going out, knowing the risk existed, but done with it.
Dean Wesley Smith wrote about the Time of Great Forgetting. The period from April until mid-to-end of July when goals evaporate.
"So the focus is on family (as it always should be), vacations, gardens, nice weather, and just GETTING OUT OF THE HOUSE," he says.
He says this year has been worse than previous years. More writers forgetting about writing, learning, and publishing. I'm sure that extends to other goals too. He suggests resetting around May 1st to focus and get through this time.
Good advice. I'll add that it isn't too late. That reset can take place now. Or July 1st. Now is a better time than later. It's a good time to think about what you really want, what's important, and what you plan to do to get what you want.
My chief goal at the start of the year? Build daily habits. I've succeeded with some of those.
Writing each day. It isn't always fiction, but my focus has been time with fingers on keys. I have a novel-in-progress, a story, and some other projects.
Learning. I set a goal to focus more on courses and workshops. Learning is crucial to growth and I wanted to give it time each day. I don't always work on a course every day, but definitely more often.
Share on Instagram. I enjoy creating images and sharing them on Instagram. It's another thing that I've been trying to do each day. Usually I manage it.
Exercise. Not always hitting this one. Still working on it. I bought a new FitBit and have been working at it.
Meditate. I'd let my daily meditation habit drop away, I've recently reinstated my practice. It helps.
Mostly, I think I've done fairly well with my daily habits. I've worked on other goals too that go along with this, including one that I've wanted to do for several years. You may have already seen the start of this new project.
DRIVE-BY STORIES: Imaginative Fantastic Short Short Stories
I registered the domain drivebystories.com years ago with the idea of sharing short short or flash fiction stories. I tried out a couple ideas, but never really got it off the ground. As I looked at my progress this year, this idea came back to me.
What if I did Drive-By Stories? A short short story (under 2,000 words, closer to 1,000 or less) each day. How would I do it? Could I do it? What about artwork? What form would it take?
Back in 1978 and 1984, Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg came out with a couple anthologies. 100 Great Science Fiction Short Short Stories and 100 Great Fantasy Short Short Stories.
Asimov wrote in the introduction to the first book, "Finally, in the short short story, everything is eliminated but the point. The short short story reduces itself to the point alone and presents that to you like a bare needle fired from a blowgun; a needle that can tickle or sting and leave its effect buried within you for a long time."
I've been a fan of the short short story for a long time. I've written a few, but the challenge I contemplated was a whole other scope. Publish a short short story each day. Not only write it, but put it out into the world. The equivalent of sticking the story up a page at a time in the bookstore window for passerbys to read, the way Harlan Ellison had done. Except many of those weren't this short.
What is the equivalent of the window today? Instagram Stories.
A story shows up for 24 hours and then goes away. Anyone interested could read the story right there on their phone. (Tip: Press and hold to stay on a page until you finish). Maybe the story works. Maybe it doesn't. It's good practice for me either way.
I liked the idea. I wanted to push it a bit more. Second part of the idea: Publish each story in READINARY for paid subscribers, so those supporting the work would have access to the archives in case they missed the story on Instagram.
I started doing that last week. I've shared four DRIVE-BY STORIES so far. As I worked out the processes, I started with stories I'd written when I first considered creating DRIVE-BY STORIES. I think I have most of those worked out at this point, with templates to create the page images.
I added one other idea to the whole plan—create and publish a collection of the stories when I reach 100 stories. This would be a book available in the usual e-book and print formats, like the ones Asimov and Greenberg created decades ago, except this one would be filled with my own stories. With that idea, I think I figured out the whole concept and plan.
I'll continue working on my other projects along with DRIVE-BY STORIES. It's going to be great fun. I'll probably miss a day at some point, but I'm going to try to keep it daily as much as possible. Follow me on Instagram or Facebook to catch them as they appear in my stories or become a paying READINARY subscriber to gain access to the archives as they grow.
Thanks for reading.
Best wishes, always, Ryan
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