My Big Decade: The first 4 years

Big Decade years

I’ve been on this Earth a bit over 64 years. Four years ago, I launched a Big Decade of goal-oriented daily obsession. I’ve run 11 Big Years since. Were they worthwhile?

As discussed a few days ago, my four grandiose writing-related Big Years packed a punch but were not unqualified successes. In contrast, as trumpeted yesterday, the three very different Big Years that targeted my body rather than my mind succeeded brilliantly.

At age 60, I envisaged some nutty cultural blitzes. “Read a book every day, Andres,” I promised, for example. Well, I’ve only tried one such Big Year, listening to a rock music every day over 2017. Although that habit hasn’t maintained much momentum, the Big Year was a hoot and hugely enriching. That said, I can’t see myself trying any other cultural extravaganzas for the next couple of year at least.

Something I did not imagine in 2015 was the idea of doing some interesting study each day, but I’ve tried the concept twice in recent years, with satisfying results. In 2018, my Tractor Big Year saw me committed to researching, each and every day, the vista of self publishing. Two mystery novels in late 2018 and early this year were the heart-warming result. And this year my Wings Big Year, covering the generalities of birds, has given my knowledge a fillip it wouldn’t otherwise have had. I don’t think 2020 will see any such “new knowledge” Big Year, but surely I’ll try something else in future years.

Weirdly, my 2018 Stillness Year, which involved only ten minutes a day of Headspace-app-based meditation, was a spectacular triumph. Who would have thought allocating so little daily time would add so much? Enriching my days with tiny stabs at something new will probably be a feature of the next six years.

Overall, the Big Decade idea rocks! I’ve worked harder, stayed healthier, learnt more, and added variety. Bring on the next six years, I say.

2017’s Big Years: Sayonara

Farewell to a trio of obsessions (and when I say obsession, I mean day on day, everyday, not quite mania but sometimes damned close):

Writing Big Year – you drove me mad and I let you down and you didn’t “work,” but I can’t gainsay the many huge gains I made over the year. I’ll learn from you and turns 2017’s disappointments into 2018’s successes.

Fitness Big Year – you were tough to uphold (man, did I bitch and moan!) and I recast you a few times, but I’m now half a cyclist on top of being a jogger, my fitness is improved (whatever that means), and I’m addicted to daily workouts. My gratitude to you, old friend.

Rock Music Big Year –  your daily aural treat was sublime, and if you haven’t rekindled my old fixation on life-saving toons, something nascent smoulders inside me now. Bless you (and I wish I could repeat you in 2018).


Writing Big Year: What were its (huge) flaws?

Family aside, 2017’s core was the Writing Big Year, which I defined on January 1 as full morning concentration (with various regulations and processes) and, far more important, finishing a draft of the book. Well, the Big Year concept – daily service to an obsession – doesn’t work for a project that carries any uncertainty at all, let alone the bottomless unknowns of my book attempt.

Within weeks the completion goal revealed itself as make-believe. After a series of rewrites of the Writing Big Year, I changed tack a little (note that I was working very hard and most productively) and then more, and in the middle of the year switched to exercising first thing in my mornings, before realizing that was stupid, etc., etc., etc. I paid lip service to the Writing Big Year until late in the year, and then abandoned all hope.

Look, the initial goal was aspirational, motivating enough that 2017 was a terrific writing year for me. My friends and family wouldn’t agree, but I’m making fine progress. It’s just that it would have been better to align the work with the “do it daily” discipline.

2018 will learn from 2017.


Writing Big Year: A brighter day dawns ahead?

Oh, I strove this year but, as someone close to me observed last night, “you’ve mastered the art of writing a book impossibly slowly.” The Writing Big Year, which was meant to provide structure and underpin a proper “plan,” sped me up but not enough. Bleak moments abounded.

But the night lifts and a sweet day unfurls, and the name of that day is 2018. This time next year I’ll toast success!

Writing Big Year: Bemused

This bemuses me no end. Because he’s been shortlisted five times but never taken final prize, Flanagan formally boycotts the Miles Franklin. Writing is writing, and reading is reading, and a writer wins an award because a certain group of readers admires his/her book. Surely luck will always play a large part, i.e. the precise group of readers doing the judging. On the other hand, I don’t intend to waste any more emotional energy fussing over this. It’s his choice and so be it.