Intentional New Year

by Alexandra Sokoloff

Rabbit rabbit – to JT and everyone else.  (Click through if you have no idea what I’m talking about.  And please think about starting off the year virtuously by donating to Wikipedia while you’re over there – they’re asking for just $5).

Hmm, wow, I get to blog on New Year’s Day.  That’s a lot of pressure!  Or not.  Maybe everyone will love me if I just speak very softly and in words of fewer than two syllables.

First of all, can I just say (for more than just myself, I know) –

THANK GOD IT’S 2011.

I wish everyone here at Murderati, and all our families and friends – and while I’m at it every sentient being on the planet – a joyful, ecstatically fulfilling, and transcendent year.

Okay, so the timing of this clearly means I was actually meant to do some actual resolutions.   But let’s say intentions, instead, because that word is more focusing for me and doesn’t remind me so much of dieting. 

What – (that is suitable for public posting) – do I really desire for this year, in the obvious main areas of my life?

Living:  Be more conscious. 

Of everything – but what I mean by conscious is paying attention to what my life is telling me, and the Universe is telling me.   On good days I believe that the Universe is speaking to us all the time, even or especially on the bad days, and that the most fulfilling way of living is to listen for that guidance and be as much in the flow as we can be.  Unfortunately, most days I forget all that entirely as I get caught up in all the stuff, you know, the STUFF, and if you forget it too many days in a row you tend to start not believing it.   So I will pay attention to the synchronicities, and those small, insistent pushes, and those overtly symbolic dreams that scream at you in multileveled Technicolor  Stay away from that one you idiot or if you live you will regret it every day of the rest of your life  – and do my best to live every day as if I really have a purpose in life and even more importantly – that life has a purpose for me.

Relationships:  Hmm, all right, without going into detail…

Love everyone more – but with better boundaries.  Look to recognize the god/dess in everyone.   As for the rest, sorry, but I did say only what was fit to post publicly.

Dancing:  Dance more.  Period. 

I’m just a better person when I dance every day.  It makes everything better.

Teaching:  Keep growing as a teacher, finding new ways to inspire people to tell the best stories they can.

But also, be more integrated about living my writing in my teaching and my teaching in my writing.  I think what I mean by this is – there’s no reason to compartmentalize.  It’s all part of the same process.   You only really teach by doing.

Writing

Hmm.  

Yes, this is my living, but I’ve got to say it’s terrifying to think of how many books I’ve committed to write this year.  Scary doesn’t begin to describe it – I must have been insane.   Actually, I think we’ve already established this.   But it’s too late to panic, now – I am just going to have to take it one day at a time, and learn how to not fight the process. Writing is always going to be exhausting: I like how Joe Landsdale puts it:  “You never really rest; the synapses are firing all the time.”  But I am starting – starting – to believe I can be more gentle with myself about it and get just as much done, probably more.  Or better.   I have an inner slave driver that needs to get over itself.  I’m going to be more aware of when that self-punishing impulse in me starts to take over and just not let that happen.  I hope.

My writing intention is to write better books. 

Right – but how?  I think it has to do with committing even more to each story and the process – to recognize fear when it comes up and instead of pulling back and doing things to distract myself, treat the fear as a signpost that I’m on to something important and treat it as an opportunity to go deeper.   Again, this seems to be about being more conscious.

Career:   Well, not like you can separate this from writing, but –

At Bouchercon in San Francisco this – I mean last! – year, I was in the bar – I mean lobby – bitching to Our Rob and Marcus Sakey:  “I need to do something DIFFERENT.”  And Marcus said, “Honey, we’re all there.”

Hearing him say that was a huge reality check, because I realized he’s right in every way.  In fact, that’s always going to be the state of a writer’s career, or any artist’s.  We are always going to feel like we need to do something different – which means not just different, but also doing it differently.  And in fact we HAVE to always be doing something different, and differently.   It’s a good thing.

What I want to keep for every day of this year was the total inspiration I felt at Bouchercon – my sense of awe and pride about being able to live and work in the incredible worldwide community of mystery and thriller writers, to be constantly inspired and encouraged and often blown away by the creative risks my colleagues are taking, and to learn from their skill and commitment and passion to bring more depth and power to my own stories.   Lee Child says: “As crime writers we are all constantly building the genre with the work we do.”   My intention is to be more conscious that I am helping to build the genre, and to do my part with the work I do this year.   I think if I stay focused on that, the career will take care of itself.

I wish everyone here whatever is that inspiration for you.

So, um, anyone conscious out there who wants to share some intentions? 

Alex

Oh, almost forgot – starting kind of today, but really more like Monday, I’m doing a New Year jump-start online writing workshop, 2 weeks for just $15 (we’re running 2 days over to accommodate hangovers.  I mean, the holiday.)   Come get motivated!  

Details and registration here.

33 thoughts on “Intentional New Year

  1. Karen in Ohio

    Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit, since it's 1/1/11.

    And since this year in the Chinese horoscope is a Metal Rabbit year, which is supposed to be one of uncommon prosperity. Let's hold that thought, shall we? Did you know 2011 is also a prime number?

    My intention this year is to finally get off the bubble and write. I'm heading over to sign up, Alex. Thank you for the opportunity to get a kickstart!

    Happy new year to all the 'Rati. May you have uncommon prosperity in the coming year, as well as good health and warm love. Cheers!

  2. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Karen, I didn't know that about 1/1/11. Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit is right! Love the metal rabbit and uncommon prosperity, bring it on!

    And I'm so glad you'll be joining the workshop – it's the people who make it, every single time.

  3. Grace

    Happy New Year to all Rati on National Hangover Day! Thanks for the great blog on the first day.! The bar you set is high – only way to go. Thanks for all the wonderful posts – I love this site!

  4. Dao

    Happy New Year to you and Murderati! I've learned so much from this site and recommended it to virtually every writer I know.

    Also, I registered for your class. I took the one with PASIC in November but NaNoWriMo got in the way. This time, I am going to learn as much as I can. I really enjoy reading your blog entries here and at The Dark Salon. You are a wonderful teacher.

  5. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Grace/Diane – thank YOU! I love this community. Happy New Year.

    Dao, thanks, and I'm thrilled that you're reenlisting. I have so often signed up for online classes that I couldn't participate in, but you do when you can, when you can, right? It's somehow easier to follow through this time of year, though.

  6. Kaye Barley

    I'm just popping in ever so gently, ever so quietly to wish you all a Happy New Year.

    Wonderful Post, Alex! I'm with you – Thank God it's 2011. 2010 presented me with challenges I need to put behind me and focus on living and being more conscious (you wrote my thoughts for me, Alex).

    Let's hear it for Metal Rabbit Year – uncommon prosperity for us all sounds lovely.

    rabbit, rabbit, rabbit.

  7. JT Ellison

    Happy New Year, and Bunny Rabbits Cubed!

    Alex, I'm with you on intentions, and many of yours are mine as well. 2010 was a good year, and I hope 2011 is brilliant for everyone!

  8. Rob Gregory Browne

    Alex, I'm with you on the too many books to write front. I think during these hard economic times, seeing the publishers slash mid-listers right and left, it only makes sense to take as much work as you can possibly get, because who knows where we'll all be two years from now?

    No resolutions for me. Just more work.

    Happy New Year!

  9. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Bunny rabbits cubed back atcha JT.

    On the news this morning the top five NYs resolutions are:

    Lose weight
    Exercise more
    Stop smoking
    Save money
    Eat better

    All of which are fine, but it's not the same as INTENTIONS.

  10. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Happy New Year Everyone!
    My resolutions are very much like your resolutions, Alex, except for the dancing part. Which I will replace with getting back into music. Getting my saxophone reconditioned and beginning the process of practicing again, so I can meet up with other musicians and do some jamming. And then bring my kids into the world of jamming – one plays piano and the other violin, and they're just at the point where they can start to appreciate communicating with other musicians.

  11. PK the Bookeemonster

    Intentions:
    Extreme self care of myself and my surroundings from which all else will follow.

    Short term: enjoy the rest of the weekend.

    Happy New Year!

  12. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Steve, how great to be able to talk with your kids through music, that's just awesome.

    PK, I only wish I had your level of self-awareness. That sounds like just the ticket.

  13. pari noskin taichert

    Love the idea of intentions; that's a useful view of it.

    I think my main intention this year is to embrace and nurture my imagination wherever it may want to go. For so long, I've reined it in . . . forced it into particular directions. I hope this year is one of discovery and remembering how glorious an unexpected thought or idea can be!

  14. billie

    Happy new year!

    I had this image as I read your post of you doing a big mutiny thing and putting that inner slavedriver to good use by making him/her write a couple of the novels you've committed to for this year. πŸ™‚

    That should shut him/her up while you work peacefully on another of the books.

    I am seriously thinking of the class – my only hesitation is that I am already over-committed time-wise, but heck, when has that ever stopped me?

    I think I've formulated my intention for this year – it's to *get more comfortable* with letting my days and my "things to do" be the flow that they are. I don't have much trouble at this point allowing myself to follow the flow, to do what calls to me in the moment, but even while I'm flowing and loving it, I do have a tendency to reproach myself later. The fact is, I get a lot done when I follow the flow, and at the end of the day, whether I go that route or enslave myself to the to do list, I never will get *every* thing done.

  15. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Alafair, totally admirable. Good luck with it.

    Pari, it sounds so simple to embrace the unexpected, right? But it's a commitment. We are creatures of habit and routine, even in our thought patterns.

  16. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Billie, you've nailed it exactly – I can do the flow but almost always reproach myself later. That's the slavedriver (who doesn't get its hands dirty, just wields the whip).

    I'm working on it!

  17. KDJames

    Happy New Year, Alex! I don't make resolutions at the New Year, but it seems I always have intentions of one kind or another. Wishing the best of luck to you with yours — I remain awed by your ambition and energy. [Everyone who hasn't taken Alex's class should sign up. Really, there aren't enough superlatives to describe it.]

    Two of the "intentions" I've been working on for a while now are to spend less time dreaming/thinking and more time doing. Also to stop worrying/caring so much what other people might think of me and the things I say and write. It's a tough balance for me: appreciating (and needing) the audience reaction once I'm done writing, being too aware of a possible audience while I'm writing. As always, the seasoned voices over here are so helpful, an invaluable resource.

    Does anyone else have a mental image of little metal rabbits prospering and procreating with uncommon fervor and spending the next twelve months running amok all over the Murderati blog?

  18. ZoΓ« Sharp

    Hi Alex

    Happy New Year to you and all at Murderati.

    My only intentions for this year are to keep doing the best I can, and to improve my contentment levels. If I'm happier with myself, as PK so nicely put it, all else will follow.

  19. Catherine

    Oh what KD said….my uber intention, which I'm the midst of enacting….yeah acting more…pulling forward the inner nike swish and just …well you know.

    Today as in about 5 minutes forward from now I'll be on the road to organise a cheap bed to lift the mattress I've been sleeping on here at my youngest daughter's place. I'm starting my masters this year in Information System Library Science and while I'm up for some online learning…(I will be looking for another of your workshops in the next month or two)…but I'll be staying in the city for about 3 days for some face time study too. My intention is to glory in the small things and revel daily.

    Based on an utterance amongst my coffee buddies a month or two back this is a pretty quick turn around in acting on my intentions. I mentioned that I thought I'd be pretty happy doing a half city/country existence. A few things happened and my daughter needed a little injection of funds on a weekly basis, but not a around the clock house mate. Et voila. IKEA visit looms and I'll be subletting next week.

    In regards to focus. A couple of months ago I bought a series of 3X3 inch canvases with scrabble letters on them. My intention was to put them up where I write, F_O_C_U_S….

    When I went to the store they were one letter short and swore to me that they would have that letter delivered the next week. So I invested in the four with the intention of fulfilling the fifth quickly. Well it's a month later now and I'm still left with F_O_C_U.

    Which makes me laugh more at the universes twisty ways.

    Happy New Year Alex.

  20. Allen

    Happy New Year to ALL.
    "We will open the book. The pages of the book are blank. We will put words on the pages ourselves.
    The book is called OPPORTUNITY and its first chapter is New Year's Day "

  21. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Surprised to hear you spend any time at all thinking of what other people think of you, Katherine – you seem to me to just get out there and do it.

    Metal rabbits procreating just sounds painful. Not in a good way.

  22. Reine

    Happy New Year everyone. I'm recovering from a day with men watching their team lose the Rose Bowl and hoping the mesquite trees survive P-Wog's love of BBQ. Time for a drink.

  23. KDJames

    I'm no different than any other writer, Alex. A neurotic bundle of insecurities wrapped in a thin fragile layer of arrogant confidence.

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