Thoughts On Things

Posted: December 27, 2012 by ajbrown in Random Thoughts, Uncategorized, Writing
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My daughter has a great smile and her laugh is contagious.

My son is a comedian/Batman/ninja turtle/Sonic the Hedgehog/Jedi Warrior/Lego Maniac ball of energy.

My wife is beautiful, my heart and my center. She grounds me.

***
Life is short.

Some may argue that point, but for most people, life is entirely too short. There are things we want to do–the bucket list, so to speak–that we have never been able to do. There are places we want to go that we have never been. There are things we want to accomplish with our lives that we haven’t had the chance to accomplish.

Why? Why haven’t we accomplished some of those things we want to? Money? Okay, I get that one. Time? Meh. That is a point that is mute for the most part. Do you watch television? Play video games? How about that great time sucker, Facebook? Do you surf the internet? There’s your time, slipping, slipping, slipping through your fingers.

We take for granted the time we do have. We don’t use it wisely enough. Sure, I understand watching television and playing on the computer and Facebook and videogames and a whole host of other things, but the truth is we don’t use our time wisely.

Wait. It’s not just about being more efficient with our use of the time given us, it’s also about motivation. How many of us are just plain lazy? Or maybe we’re too tired when we get off work. Maybe we’re a little–or a lot–of both.

I’m just going to sit here and drink one beer (or in my case, a Strawberry Kool-Aid) and watch one television show and then I’ll get up and go write or go do that thing I want to do. How often do we say, or at the very least, think that? That one drink turns into several and that one television show turns into three hours and by the time we realize it, it’s time to go to bed.

I guess I’ll just do it tomorrow.

Mmm-hmm.

Good intentions and all that jazz.

[[Side Note: Before I go any further, if you have children, they are–or should be–a dominant part of your life and I can understand if you don’t get to some things you would like to do. Still, making the time is an effort worth pursuing. End Side Note.]]

The truth is if you want to do something YOU have to pursue it. If you want to climb the mountain, you have to start at the bottom and work your way up. If you want to publish that great American novel, well you have to write it first and that starts with penning the first word.

I know this is cliché, but you only get out of life what you put into it. If your efforts are centered around doing very little, then life will give you very little in return. If your efforts are centered around what it is in it for me, then you miss out on the joys of giving and helping others. If your life is about work, work, work, sure you may have riches and material things. But life isn’t just about money and material things. The Rolling Stones made note of that in their song As Tears Go By.

Life is about living and happiness and worth. Remember that.

By worth, I mean self worth. How you view yourself. Your self worth is more valuable than what anyone can ever think about you. I’ve always been the type to say, you don’t like me? Your loss. I still feel that way. Again, I use a cliché here, but in order for most folks to find their worth, they must love themselves first. Love yourself. It’s the best thing you can do for you. If you love yourself, then you will have that to fall back on when people disappoint you (and they will disappoint you). You will always be able to bounce back when you love and believe in yourself.

I’ve strayed from my original thoughts, but that’s okay. I do that in real life, so why not in my stories and blogs? It is who I am. Honestly, I rarely know what it is I want to write about when I sit down, but I know that life is short.

Be all that you can be. In order to do that, you have to put forth some effort. Give it the old college try. Swing for the fences and all those other clichés. You have to be willing to live and push fear aside.

Part of those swinging for the fences attitudes are goals. No, this is not some New Year’s resolution thing, just thoughts.

Goal setting is literally focusing on something you wish to accomplish. Those things can be long term and short term. I find it easiest to set a long term goal with several short term goals as stepping stones toward the main objective. For instance:

I have a long term goal of submitting 52 stories to various publications in 2013. That may seem like a lot, but that is far beneath the 147 stories I submitted in 2010. How am I going to achieve this goal? Let me see. There are 52 weeks in a year, so it makes sense to set short term goals of one submission a week. So in seeking my 52 submissions in the calendar year of 2013, I have set for myself 53 goals to achieve it (yes it is 53: One for each week and the final goal of 52 for the year).

I also wish to write twelve stories in 2013. I know, that is not many at all, but considering my other goals for writing and considering my stories aren’t typically the under five thousand words variety, twelve will be a significant accomplishment (especially if you factor in that at least one of those will be a novel). So, how am I going to achieve that goal? Right: One story a month for twelve months will help me accomplish my objective of twelve stories for the calendar year. So, as you can see I currently have 66 goals that I wish to accomplish for 2013.

But wait, there is a 67th one in there already. Did you notice it? That’s right. I want to write at least one novel-length story. This goes into the major goal category, to which I now have three of them: 52 submissions, 12 short stories and a novel.

I would like to accomplish something I think is a little more difficult than all of those previous goals. 365 thousand words in one year. It’s daunting, but could be simple if I break it down into daily goals: 1000 words (or more) a day every day. Not too ambitious.

There was a stretch of several months where life, and more specifically, my job got in the way of doing much of anything when I was done at the end of each day. The one area that suffered because of the exhaustion (both physically and mentally) was my blog. One of my goals is to write 52 blogs (including interviews) for Type AJ Negative. You guessed it: that would be one a week. I also want to put the humor back into them. I feel like I became entirely too serious this year (the real world has a way of doing that to you).

Those are not the only things writing or personal-related that I want to accomplish this year. There is significantly more, but I wanted to focus on short term goals leading to the completion of long term objectives

More importantly, I want to achieve something this year. I want to feel like I have accomplished what I set out to do. To use yet another cliché, you can do anything when you set your mind to it. How seriously are you–am I–at setting your mind to do something?

What’s the thing I want to achieve this year (and every day for the rest of my life, for that matter)? I want to teach my children to value themselves, to value their time, to believe in their abilities, to reach for the stars and don’t settle for the tree tops. I want to teach them to use their imaginations, to broaden their way of thinking. In order to do that I have to reach for the stars as well, and not settle for the tree tops and set goals for myself.

I guess this turned into one of those New Year’s resolution blogs after all. Not my intention. But, as I mentioned earlier, I usually don’t know what I’m going to write when I sit down, so I’ll take it.

***

On Christmas Eve me and The Boy spent most of the day together. We went to the theater and watched Rise of the Guardians and then went to get something to eat. He went to McDonalds. I chose Taco Bell. Not that I really wanted that, but it was right next to the McDonalds and since it was pouring down rain I didn’t want to drive anywhere else.

As we sat in the Taco Bell waiting for my food, I grabbed The Boy’s head and noogied him. Then I acted surprised, like I had found something mysterious in his hair.

“Oh no,” I said.

“What?” He responded.

“There’s something wrong with your hair.”

“What?”

“I need to shave it off.”

He pulled away from me, hands out in front of him and waving frantically. “No, no, no. You can’t do that.”

“Why?”

He gave me a look of, what? Indignation? Yeah, that was it. He looked at me as if I should know the answer to that question. Then he said, and I’m not sure how serious he was, “Because I’m too beautiful.”

There is no conceit in my family. The Boy got it all.

Until our paths cross again, my friends…

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Comments
  1. Thanks for sharing, AJ. Thanks for the Rolling Stones shout-out and for offering some perspective on life. I spent 20 years only dreaming of being a writer and author. Now that I am finally doing it while in my middle age, I am guilty of giving up nearly everything while I chase it. I rarely watch television and golf maybe twice a year now. On the other hand, very soon my 18 and 14 year old sons will be out of the house and I will wonder when the hell that happened!!
    I endevor to stop and hang out with my family much more in 2013 than I have been doing these past few years of being more author than husband and father.
    Thanks, man. Happy New Year to you and yours.

    -Jimmy
    http://jamesgarciajr.blogspot.com/

  2. ajbrown says:

    James, for me it’s finding a balance between the two. Take for instance today. I got up early, spent a couple hours writing. Then I spent the entire afternoon with my son, until about an hour ago–around 8:30 in the evening. I took my shower and now I will spend the next hour or so working on writing related things.

    I want my family to know I love them and that I will do for them, but I have to make time for myself, even if it is just half an hour to just crash. Most of the time I do this by not watching television or a movie. It is a small sacrifice to make so I can be both a good husband and father and a writer–none of which I think I do a very good job of sometimes. But I try and that’s what we have to do: always strive to do better, but first we must try…

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