It's that time of year again. Time to reflect on all you accomplished last year and congratulate yourself for having done so well. Time to reflect on all you meant to accomplish but didn't and berate yourself for not doing better while pledging to improve (again). Time to reflect on all you didn't accomplish and wring your hands over all the self-improvement tasks you failed out.
Or alternatively, a time not to worry about any of that and realize that if you're really going to improve upon yourself, it takes more than one night's promises and it helps to set realistic goals. This last bit can be especially tricky as a writer. Even if you don't belong to some sort of writer's group or website, you have probably walked into a bookstore in the past year and picked up something that prompted a jealous reaction. A "why has she/he made it when I haven't yet?" kind of thing. Even when you know why, and know full well it's mostly about persistence and a small smattering of talent.
For the most part, I don't begrudge anyone their success. My failing lies more along the line of somehow charting my own success alongside theirs. This, I have come to realize, is unfair. I don't work at the same pace as other people. I do not have the same amount of drive and ambition as other people. I have enough, I think, so long as I do not put myself on some sort of artificial and unrealistic schedule just because someone else did it in that amount of time.
And looking back on 2010, I did pretty well. Not as well as I would have liked, perhaps, but well enough. I finished another book. I started querying the one before that, even if there's been no acceptances yet. (I even got a partial request. That's all I've gotten so far, other than fodder for the lament of common courtesy. How hard is it to just send a simple form email, after all?) I subbed out some things, again, no acceptances, but they went out. Did I do as much as I could have? Honestly, probably not. Did I do as much as some other people? Definitely not.
Did I do more than I did the year before? Absolutely.
Is that enough of a benchmark? Absolutely.
Can I do better? Sure I can. (Yes, I could have said "absolutely" there. But you were expecting that.)
But on the other hand, if I match those goals this year, then I think 2011 will have been a pretty good year. There are other things going on in my life besides writing (heresy though that may seem to some people I know) and all in all, 2010 was a good year. Not great, but good.
And that's good enough for me.