What a busy year, 2013.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a year this busy, both professionally and personally, and even though today is the last day of the year, it’s just as busy.

A deadline has come and gone—no, two deadlines have come and gone—and I’m still working. What is it about the new year that energizes me, and why does that energy wane every fall, starting in mid-September, until I limp into December behind, frazzled, apologizing, sleeping too much, exercising too little (read: not at all), eating crap (the three American food groups: processed sugar, fat, and sodium, exclusively), watching too much TV, reading too little, writing hardly at all?

And tomorrow is January 1, 2014 and I can already feel the energy building. The projects I’m behind on have stopped feeling like death traps and have taken on a new excitement, so I can’t wait to dig in and get them done—not just get them done, but make them great.

This new year thing is a strangely powerful force.

Going back a few years I’ve made various resolutions here at Fantasy Author’s Handbook, and the next year’s resolutions tend to start with all the resolutions I failed to adhere to from the previous year. But this blog has helped me to create a personal and professional history I’ve really never had before. That was an unintended but interesting and informative by-product of this whole exercise, that I’ve been trying to make some sense of, interpret in some useful way, for the past couple months.

And that revelation, that sense of a high-energy start to the year and a low energy slide into home is the most obvious. That leaves me with two solutions: fight it or embrace it.

In 2014, can I figure out how to maintain a full energy level and full work load for all twelve months? Or should I accept that October, November, and December are going to be a half-workload quarter and plan accordingly?

My natural inclination is toward the former, but I’m going to give myself the first, high-energy quarter of 2014 to think that over. Maybe a little acceptance can go a long way.

So that leaves me with one resolution for 2014: No blown deadlines.


That’s weird for me to type that. I was always the guy who never blew a deadline. Not since the great 70-hour write fest of 1990 when I had so hopelessly blown a deadline for a freelance role-playing game thing I ended up having to write it in one sitting.

It is true, by the way, that if you go too long without sleep you start to get a little . . . psychotic.

And I was younger then. As I creep up on fifty, my body has learned to just shut down, regardless of my conscious brain’s desires.

So I need to get back to who I was after that horrible blown deadline: the guy who remembered how bad that was and vowed never to blow another deadline ever again.

This one, even more so that losing weight and yadda yadda yadda, is a matter of professional life and death.

So hi, 2014, you’re coming right on schedule, and from now on, I’ll be doing the same.


—Philip Athans

About Philip Athans

Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Writing Monsters. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, (https://fantasyhandbook.wordpress.com/) is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilAthans.
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  1. Best of luck Phil. I am excited to see what 2014 brings.

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