At the end of the year I try to sit down and write out how I did last year, and what I plan to do over the next year. I focus on professional, financial, spiritual, and physical goals. I take an honest look back on the year, and try to make reachable goals.
Now, I'm not about to bore you to death going over my personal goals and non-fiction books I've read over 2016 and what they've taught me, (although, Jon Krakauer's Missoula: Rape And The Justice System in a College Town was amazing, so was Living with Seal by Jesse Itzler) but I would like to share a few writing goals and observations and a few highlights of 2016.
The biggest lesson I learned with Who Is Olivia Green is that I'm not a good salesman, and I need to work on that. Several blog posts are specific to me not being a hustler. I think I solved that the other day though.
A former co-worker of mine passed away unexpectedly last week. His funeral was Saturday and I was volunteered/voluntold that I was going to speak on behalf of the Sheriffs Office I work for. I wasn't too upset about that, I don't mind public speaking, but as Saturday grew closer I started getting nervous. He was African American and the culture here in Georgia is different, even now. I knew most of the white people were going to be former co-workers, in our Class A uniforms, like me. When we arrived at the church and I saw how many people I was about to speak in front of, I got real nervous.
The ushers sat us down and the church was slowly filling up. I was about to address anywhere between three and four hundred black people, while in uniform as a representative of the Sheriffs Office. I thought a lot about how I would have felt if there wasn't this huge divide in the country right now, but that is a post for another day.
While I knew we were all there to celebrate a life, a friend, as the service started I could feel my heart racing and my palms sweating. I joked with my a few of my co-workers, asking if they wanted to be a lieutenant for the day. They didn't.
As I really started getting anxious I thought back to an old college roommate, Tommy. He played baseball for Georgia Southern, and was so good he was drafted after his junior year. He could hit a damn baseball. I think he had 28 homeruns his junior year. One night he had come out to watch our intermural softball game. I was playing in the outfield and this guy hit a towering pop-fly right at me. I had that nervous feeling as that ball came to me, the feeling that made me start whispering to myself, "Don't drop it, don't drop it."
Later, over beers at our house I was joking with Tommy and told him how nervous I got under the ball. He shook his head and said something I've never forgot, even 20 years later. "No, you can't get nervous. You have to want the fly-ball to come to you because you know you can catch it. You have to ask for those balls, because you know you are going to make the out. You have to want the at-bat, because you know you can hit. You have to want those situations. You can't be scared of them."
That's why Tommy went on to play professional baseball.
So, in the church I started to tell myself that I wanted to speak. I started telling myself that I was asked to represent the Sheriffs Office because I'm a good representation. I started looking at the microphone and told myself to cherish the moment when I get up there.
When it was my turn I stood up and confidently told a great story about working with Ronnie Hynson, and had the entire church laughing, then clapping when I finished. The guys I worked with who were sitting behind me all patted my back when I sat down. When we finished several of them told me they thought I did a great job.
I don't know if I've ever told Tommy how much that small conversation meant to me many years ago. But it's some great advice that I've been applying ever since.
So what the hell does this have to do with writing books?
Later, as I was feeling all proud about overcoming my anxiety, it hit me. I can apply that same life lesson to selling books.
I love to write. I have two books almost ready to be published, then I plan to write the follow up to Who Is Olivia Green. I'm confident in my writing. I know I can propel a reader, and come up with a good plot and good characters. Where I failed in 2016 was my marketing and selling my writing. I got nervous and pretty much cowered when I had chances to really get my book out there and try and sell it.
It's time for me to publish a book and look forward to marketing and selling it. I need to want the part I'm not good at. I need to want to become a bit of a hustler. And when I do, I need to enjoy it.
I need to want the fly-ball to head my way.
So that's it, that is my only writing goal of 2017. I'm proud of what I've done, and where Who Is Olivia Green went. I heard today that a bartender in Lewes, Delaware was anxiously waiting for the sequel. It's in my mind, and hopefully will be put to paper soon.
And while I'm so proud of my writing accomplishments of 2016, there is one thing that will define the year for me. Well not one thing, but one person.
Her name is Christina. And she is stunningly beautiful.
I met her this summer and I'm already at a point where I couldn't imagine a life without her. It's funny how things work out. I was divorced in 2007 and have dated and been in several relationships over the last ten years. Some good ones that ended amicably, some bad ones that made me fear for my life.
In those ten years I've never met a woman like Christina.
I could go on and on about her beautiful dark brown eyes, her confident walk where she bounces on the balls of her feet, the cute way she dances before a run when she puts her headphones in and doesn't think anyone is looking, her amazing smile, her amazing laugh, how cute she is when she falls to sleep on the sofa, how I catch her looking at me when I'm sleeping sometimes, how smart she is, how caring she is, her amazing dimples, and the way I feel when I get to hold her.
I guess I did go on and on.
This last year was pretty great for a lot of reasons. There were some hard times, like losing my grandmother. But there were some good times.
My book was published and is still selling.
I got a lot of great feedback and support about my writing.
I need to become a better salesman, but I'm ready to do that now. I'm ready to ask for those moments.
And, I met the most amazing woman in the world. She's asleep one floor above me right now. I can't wait to join her. She is the love I've been searching for.
2017, I'm ready.
(Happy Birthday Dad! I know you don't read this but mom does, so Happy bday! Card is in the mail! Good thing you are out of town this week, might not have made it on time! Anyway, glad you are here for another trip around the sun, looking forward to many more. I love you, Dad.)