At the beginning of 2011 I sat down with a blinking cursor and a file named What am I doing with my life? I broke things down into headings like “Poetry” and “Theatre” and subheadings like “Where I’m at” and “What I want” and “What I’m going to do”. I was pretty lost a year ago and genuinely needed to sit down with something that could have fallen out of a culty little self help manual in order to get things sorted.
I looked at the bulleted lists quite regularly for the first couple of months, but as 2011 picked up speed I started to forget about it. I don’t thhink I’ve double-clicked it since June. So I opened it up yesterday, and was astonished to see how well it had worked. Last year went pretty well for me, and it felt a lot like one lucky break after another — but it seems that I did shape it from the beginning.
I wrote poetry regularly, and started to get it published, alongside running a really successful loca events series and Minifest in August. I made multiple theatre projects that satisfied my directorial interests. I found freelance work to keep me in the black and busy enough, but not so busy I couldn’t play plenty of games. I helped run our amazing social and arts centre, The Forest. I started work on a book and EP. A bunch of other stuff happened, and most of it’s there in that plan. How strange!
So today I sat down to do it again, and it feels a bit like trying to do a difficult second album. There’s nothing fresh about the file this year. It’s laden with the expectations of last year’s successes. With the idea that I have to build, progress, move forward. My theatre’s got to get bigger audiences and more recoognition. My poetry’s got to get in better journals. I want more and better contracts. I want to push myself further and better. I’ve found ways of managing myself and my interests that seem to work for me — but now, rather than being exciting, rather than feeling like a game or a treasure hunt, those same management methods are under pressure to pull it off again.
I’m a bit scared that it won’t work a second time round. That the pressure of trying to push harder will buckle me. However much I tried to plan, or maybe because I tried to plan, last year was exhiliratingg, and everything was new. I’ve typed up the file again for this year, but can’t help feeling that, if this year is going to be as good, or better, I’ve got to do something different. Any suggestions?