I'm not a huge Trekkie, but there is a quote from Picard in TNG that hammered me hard when I first heard it, and has stuck with me ever since.
"I've become aware that there are fewer days ahead than there are behind."
I think I was all of 30 when I first heard it? I'm not sure. If it knocked my socks off then, imagine how it sits in my mind now, when I've lost close friends, been to a high school reunion and learned 11 of the kids I graduated with are gone, and I have more loved ones (too many of them) fighting cancer.
Mortality isn't a pop-up ad I can click off and ignore. Not these days. I know that creeping intensity will grow stronger as the years roll by. I've watched enough people I love get called up to play on The Great Gridiron In the Sky that my contract to play in that league could come at any moment.
Therefore, I'm working on making some changes in my life. I thought I'd share them with y'all.
CRUSH YOUR ENEMIES
First, my natural "crush your enemies" vibe, which I've had all my life, needs to calm the fuck down. For 30 years, I've been banging away at books, but also writing screenplays, trying to get my properties adapted, trying to get into graphic novels, making a small business that's far more than just writin' stories, and probably a dozen other things that I've pursued with intensity and, frankly, anger that is a byproduct of my competitive nature.
I'm getting my head around the fact that I have a fucking great life — I get to make shit up for a living. Granted, I worked my fingers to the bone and poured in countless hours to get here, but I am here. I will be focusing more on the rare opportunity I have, to sit down with a pot of coffee every morning, in the comfort of my little office, and throw words on the page to entertain your face. This is what I would do if I did not get paid for it. Rarified air, man.
So, I'm going to work on enjoying this shit way more. I'm changing my weekly writing goal from 15,000 words a week to 10,000. That's 2k/day on weekdays, 4-hour writing shifts. Very achievable for me. When I'm rolling, 500 words an hour is a relaxed writing pace that also allows time for research, studying writing styles, and business stuff that pops up and must be dealt with immediately.
SEE THEM DRIVEN BEFORE YOU
I'm literally in the worst shape of my life. It's bad, y'all. I might look like a skinny little thing to some of you, but I get tired going up two flights of steps. ARealGirl and I had to run to make an airline connection last week, and I thought I might keel over and die (and all I had was a heavy computer bag backpack!). For someone with my athletic background, my current shape is not only embarrassing to me, it's risking further health issues.
I've blown out my back twice, broken a rib, broken my thumb, fractured my sternum, and had a real, real bad hamstring pull, all in the last seven years or so. These injuries have led to a more sessile lifestyle. You know what I mean — sitting around and feeling sorry for myself instead of getting at it to get back in shape. I have become lazy. The time I would have spent going to the gym or running got cannibalized by writing and work stuff.
I need to get that exercise time back.
As you get older, your body doesn't heal as fast or recover as fast. I'm a horror writer, so the old "you don't have to be fast to escape a zombie horde, just faster than your friends" adage always comes to mind. Right now, the zombies will get us both — I'm probably the slow friend, and if I'm faster, I won't make it another 100 yards or so before I collapse and wheeze while the zombies finish off my pal and then come to get me anyway.
I'm like a 5-8 version of Fat Thor, in that the shape I am in now simply doesn't work for me. It's not about looking a certain way, it's about maximizing my health so I get as many good years as I can before those years are gone.
I need to make more time for exercise, and I need to get my discipline back to make those hours count.
AND HEAR THE LAMENTATION OF THEIR WOMEN
Okay, this one is a stretch. Let's say "hear the lamentation of their women" means "spend more time with family and friends." Deal? Good.
I have put in a fuck-ton of time to get where I am. As with all things in life, time is a form of currency. I put most of it into work, not as much into fam and friends. Those scales need to level out a bit, knowing full well I'll work and be creating shit until the day I die. Can't stop, won't stop. But, do I need to put in the hours I put in? Do I need to keep chasing after the next shiny thing? Do I need to say "just a few minutes more and I'll join you" over and over again?
Fewer days ahead than behind, y'all.
I'll be working on enjoying more family stuff. Getting to the beach with the pups. Hanging out with my gleaming Valkyrie of a wife. Making sure decades don't go by without visiting my nephews and nieces as they roll into their adult lives. Seeing my high school buddies with whom I have stayed close (Arm Chair Lodge, represent!).
As life rolls on, I'm more aware that these amazing delights aren't going to be on the menu forever. I got to start soaking them up while the soaking is good.
MUSIC, MUSIC, I HEAR MUSIC
If any of y'all are thinking, "well, stop fucking around with the band, you old fart, act your age," you can just kiss off into the sky. Rock and roll is in my blood. I love music, love writing and recording it, and adore playing live. There are other priorities before music (see above), but this shit makes me happy.
Being proficient at an instrument and being in a band takes time. A whole lotta precious time, to paraphrase George Harrison. I'm not willing to trade in these hours for more work, even though I love both things immensely.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU, JUNKIE?
Probably not a whole lot. I doubt you'll notice the changes. For now, anyway, because at some point I need to center my work hours on making new books and less on other things.
If I can meet my goals with this, it will mean more books for you guys. I'm not hitting that 15k/week goal because I'm too scattered, chasing too many things. Dropping it to 10k, I believe, will actually mean more publishing output.
For all of you who listen to the podcast, who watch the livestream, who hang out with me in so many ways, far, far more Junkies simply read or listen to the books when they come out. More books coming out = more happy Junkies.
Will the SIGLERinPLACE livestreams eventually end? Probably. Will the podcast eventually end? It's likely. When we hit the 20-year mark of Scott Sigler Audiobooks, we'll see where we are at.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Any thoughts on my ramblings? Have you gone through similar introspections with your own life and priorities? Are you a workaholic who wants to reduce? Are you too busy to even think about these things, or are you in a place where you have no option but to pour your life into obligations?
I'll work my new philosophy for awhile, then let you all know how it's progressing.
Fat Old King Scotty, signing out.