Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Successful Failure - a Year in Review

(Note: It's pretty damn late right now. I've got an early morning ahead of me tomorrow, but I've been putting off this post for WAY too long. I guess tonight's the night...)

So as 2011 wound down, I was looking back on my resolutions from last year, thinking about resolutions for the new year and generally checking my progress against my goals.

Basically, I was beating myself up. :)

Y'see, I didn't get a single damn thing I resolved done last year. To be honest, I can't remember half of my goals, and I can't be bothered going back and looking them up. There was some stuff about getting my back catalog in print, finishing new work, hell, I don't know. The important thing is, I'm one of those people sets goals and makes them happen. And in 2011... I didn't.

So there I sat, Brooding in my Vast and Forbidding Mansion (I'd had the parapets cleaned for just that purpose), when my brain had the nerve to actually wander back over the last year:

*One of my books spent a little time on an AmazonUK bestseller list. It didn't last, but I'll never forget the feeling of seeing my name sandwiched between titles by Kathy Reichs and Patricia Cornwall. Freakin' awesome!

*An earthquake destroyed my city. I mean, loss-of-life, no-more-heritage-buildings, downtown-is-rubble, drinking-bottled-water-and-pooing-in-a-trench-in-the-yard, seriously destroyed.

*That earthquake destroyed my business. The foundation cracked, water and sewage and silt came up, the building sits vacant to this day.

*I opened a new shop, painting and decorating and hauling furniture, helping dig my friends and neighbors out of their own flooding problems, writing at night and tattooing from home to help fund the reopening. And I did it all with a broken right hand.

*I spoke at schools who had to share campuses because their own buildings had been destroyed, and in churches where the rec center was the only thing that survived.

*Through 9500 aftershocks, repeated loss of basic services and the constant presence of liquifaction, a noxious mud that dries on sunny days and becomes a noxious windblown grit, I built my business back better than it ever had been.

*I got to go back to New Orleans, where among other things, I met some of the best friends a blogger can have. :)

*And this year I had somewhere to go for Christmas. No doubt a relief to everyone who received one of my drunken insane texts last year...

Well, I don't have to tell you, freshly cleaned parapet or not, looking at it that way sure put a dent in my Brooding. Which was just as well: I was having guests around for Mai Tais, Margaritas and naked Twister. It's been like this ever since I hung a disco ball in the Vast and Forbidding Mansion. It's hard to get a decent Brood on when someone's always trying to paint mustaches on the gargoyles...

So, yeah, I failed at my goals. But I'm not unhappy with my progress. The year was horrible, absolutely horrible. And it was also great.

It was a successful failure! :)

PS. I guess my resolutions weren't total failures: I did in fact finish a rough draft called Mayhem. It's marinating a bit before I start editing...


Charles Gramlich said...

One of the things that come out of these kinds of experiences is not realized often until years later. The detail and fodder and settings for stories is immense. I'm sorry you had such a rough year. I know it will pay off in many ways in years to come. And of course I'm looking forward to whatever new writing you put out.

Angie said...

I think that, considering the liferolls the universe threw at you, you did pretty damn well last year. Go you, seriously! [hugz]


Steve Malley said...

Awwww, thanks guys! :)

Maybe it was the late hour or the rusty bloggening or something, but I feel like I might've missed my point: my year was *nothing* like I meant, and a lot of Big Stuff happened, but it was somehow still my best year in AGES!!! :D

Angie said...

Well, good. That's how I see it too, so I'm glad you agree. :)


Unknown said...

Pleased to see you last comment and hope that 2012 brings good things.

Steve Malley said...

Thank you Liz! Me too! :)

RK Sterling said...

Sounds like awesome happened in the midst of awful and I'm happy for you.

Now give the maid a day off.

Sphinx Ink said...

Glad to see you posting again (says she who hasn't posted on her own blog in many months....) Meeting you in person was one of the good things in MY year. I regret that we didn't take a group photo with you! I'm glad 2011 wasn't as bad as you thought after all, and I hope 2012 will be far better. Do come visit us in New Orleans again. Keep writing. You have a great creative talent.

cs harris said...

Definitely one of those situations where a new, unchosen, but critically important set of priorities replaces the old ones that suddenly don't seem nearly so important. What an amazing year you've had. Hard to believe it's been a year now since the earthquake (well, I guess it's a year and a day, now!) We get so little news here about what is happening with the city, it's frustrating.

And I echo Sphinx Ink--I can't believe no one thought to take a picture!

Steve Malley said...

Kate, my Small Army of Little French Maids receive regular days off. Permitted leisure activities include pillow fights, giggling and locking me out of my own Vast and Forbidding Mansion...

Sphinx, Candy-- we'll get another photo opportunity soon! :)