A Personal Note – What I accomplished in 2011
Now, for something completely different…
This is a personal post. It is not about writing (really) or self-publishing. It is not about my books (much) or anyone else’s. It is a short, personal indulgence. Feel free to ignore it.
I knew 2011 would be a transitional year for me. In 2010, I decided that 31 January 2011 would be when I left my thirty-year career in military acquisition and logistics. I would have about two weeks more than I needed to qualify for an early retirement then. I say I decided in 2010, but the January 2012 date was my target long before that. In a way, I started planning it thirty years ago. Military logistics was not my career of choice. I had no career of choice, other than a vague dream of being a fiction writer–someday. The U.S. Army called me after I took the Civil Service exam when I was in graduate school, and they made me an offer too good, or at least lucrative, to refuse. I did well, eventually becoming a supervisor, and I was good enough at the job, I did not dread each new day at the office. I wanted to leave anyway. It still was not what I wanted to do. In 2010, I determined I could retire and still pay the mortgage. (So far, so good.)
As the date neared, my coworkers “knew” I would change my mind, or at least return as a contractor. I was too young to retire. They did not see me as the type who could relax and do nothing other than putter around the house, which is what retirement implied to them. They were right and they were wrong. I never reconsidered my decision to retire, but I never found much time to putter afterward either.
The first thing I did was remodel my kitchen. Actually, I designed it and hired a contractor to do the work, knowing I lacked the required tools and skills. It took about three months. While the various carpenters, plumbers, and tile workers tore down and reconstructed my kitchen, I sat in my home office working on the two books I began seven years earlier but never found enough time to complete. I finally did. This was my first major accomplishment. (The kitchen turned out nice as well.)
My second accomplishment was to self-publish them. That was a last minute decision. I originally planned to try to find an agent and get a contract with a traditional publisher. A number of things I read suggested it would be better to self-publish though, so I never sent out the lovely query letter I had drafted. Instead, I published. I realized later that I did this too soon, but it is an accomplishment nonetheless because I learned from it and I have gained a small following as a result.
My third accomplishment was to create a social media presence. This website is the biggest part of that. I find I am enjoying it more than I thought I would. I am also finding it is more work than I thought it would be. After I get it into a form I am happy with, I think it will take less of my time. I also have a Twitter account, and Facebook, and Google+. The only one I check often is Twitter. Still, this modest presence is more than I had in January so it qualifies.
The third thing I consider an accomplishment is completing the first draft of my third book. The one thing my premature publishing error did that I consider positive, is to make me feel I could start a new book. This one is more of a Young Adult novel than the previous two, with a younger protagonist and single point of view. I think it is a good story, a bit more traditional than the others are, but I think it will be a fun read once I have it in a publishable form.
I also planted a garden. The tomatoes should be ripe in another month, I think. I am not sure about the peppers. It looks like there are only three of them but I am sure they will be delicious. The only things I have sampled from my garden so far are lettuce, parsley, and basil. Since this is my first attempt at growing food, I consider it an accomplishment as well.
That’s what I did in 2011. I’m hoping for greater things in 2012.