September 2020: You Probably Won’t Remember

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In the early part of the year, these recaps were mostly written in (somewhat) real-time, meaning in close proximity to the month that just ended. Such is not the case here, where September’s breakdown is being written in the latter half of December. I mention this partially for transparency, but more so because it’s interesting what remains a highlight and what fades into oblivion after some 75+ odd days have passed since the month in question has concluded.

The answer: almost everything fades. That goes for bad things as well as good. Only the absolute most memorable things tend to stick out, with the exception of some random quirks, like that random rom-com you watched on cable seven years ago that wasn’t particularly noteworthy but nonetheless has stuck with you for reasons unbeknownst to anyone. Memory is a funny beast in that way.

While some random things stick, most of them fade, which is good, because otherwise we would be crushed under the weight of the past. Forgetting, contrary to negative connotations that come with it, is an extremely useful filter. The benefits of forgetfulness, somewhat ironically, are forgotten in an age where we can document everything via text, audio, and video. It seems to go unquestioned that we should catalog and store as much information as possible for posterity, given that we have the technological means to do so.

But the truth is, most things are best forgotten. Not because these moments are positive or negative, just because they don’t matter all that much, at least from a memory perspective. Yes, today’s workout matters, but me remembering¬†it does not, which is a key distinction. Many things that matter are also stepping stones, wherein if you obsess too much over a single cobble, you get caught looking at your feet rather than the forward horizon. If we obsess over the little things, then it’s hard to see the big picture or appreciate the truly magnificent moments.

This is why I delete and throw out almost everything, even when the ostensible cost of storing digital or physical objects is close to zero in this day and age. There is a time cost to organization that is overlooked, however; navigating your physical and digital belongings becomes more cumbersome as they proliferate. But usually the cost is less temporal or financial than emotional: by documenting everything, you become encumbered by the past.

In fact, that’s why I’m writing this recap later. Reflection in small doses is critical to exposing weaknesses in your skills and thought process, but in kilogram-sized chunks this practice trends toward rumination, which is poison for progress.

Nonetheless, trying to recall September more than two months down the line has proved interesting, if only for one reason: I can’t remember shit.

Which is not to say nothing happened, only that so many things have happened since that most of them have faded.

What Did Happen?

I had to look at some notes and payments to piece together what I did. Basically more of the same: ads for clients, ads for my own books. Doing the work, selling books. But one thing from September was worth highlighting: a Kindle Countdown Deal I ran for my own titles in the early part of the month.

Everything went wrong here. Hilariously so, in that the book page wasn’t loading correctly at the start, conversion looked jacked up, I couldn’t run ads on Facebook UK because there was a glitch blocking Amazon links there, and Amazon didn’t put the series into the same series page (they were in two separate trilogies) due to metadata differences in the files.

I can recall this vaguely (some details more than others), but all would be forgotten without notes. Truth be told, the only reason I have the notes is for courses; these problems, despite losing money on the promo, are trivial in the long run. But this is exactly the type of promo that would have some people screaming in Facebook Groups about how KCDs suck, or Facebook sucks, or ads don’t work, or any other long list of completely trivial complaints.

Some things work. Some things don’t. If you obsess over what doesn’t, it can consume you. The old adage about jealousy comes to mind: it’s like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. Except here, replace jealousy with bitterness. Even if your complaints are justified, the end result is unchangeable. Obsessing over it only hurts your progress.

And that’s the main point here, I suppose: September went fine. I just remembered that I had to delay the launch of the course, too, because Facebook was so glitchy that running ads was an extremely hit or miss proposition. I think ads were continually getting shut down on the accounts I was running due to said glitches. Which was not a tremendously productive use of time, but it was something that needed to get done in the moment. And it had no long-term effects.

Because none of this matters. This is the type of bullshit that scuttles careers and that authors spend an immense of time complaining about on Facebook groups, to their spouses, or to their author friends. We all get stuck in this mode at some point, so I’m not pointing fingers, merely highlighting that it’s a complete waste of time. Move on to the next thing. I’m not bringing word of enlightenment down from my perch on guru mountain, enriching everyone with information that they don’t know already. You already know this. The trick is to recognize when you’re stuck in the swamp of rumination, and then exit immediately by doing actual stuff.

The only reason I started letting the past fade in 2020 is simple: I had no other option. This year, there’s always been another launch, another promo, another course video, another thing to do right after the last task wrapped up. Quick analysis to break down the salient points was an option. Rumination wasn’t.

The takeaway is not “overload yourself with work so you’re constantly in motion.” It’s to extract the useful lessons (if any) from the previous project, and then to do the next thing. Even if what you just did was amazing, this can be problematic if you sit still for too long, basking in the afterglow. Give yourself a beat to celebrate, then move on. Whether you’re killing it right now or struggling, the truth is the same for all of us: we have to keep evolving and learning.

Or, if you prefer that old proverb about the lion and gazelle: it doesn’t matter which animal you are. The lion has to chase the gazelle. The gazelle has to run to escape the lion. Hunter or hunted, they must get up each day and start running to survive.

SEPTEMBER KPIs

  • TOTAL WORDS: 0 fiction words
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