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Posted by on Jan 1, 2014 in Personal | 1 comment

Happy 2014… and what I want from it

Here we are into a new year already – at least where I live (for many of my readers it is still some hours away).

2013 was an unusual one for me in many ways. It wasn’t what I’d call a bad year. Nothing went terribly wrong; in fact, it was an exceptionally productive year in which many things went well for me. Among the (many, many) highlights were the publication of The Transhumanist Reader, ed. Max More and Natasha Vita-More, to which I contributed a solid chapter that sets out my position on transhumanism, and the publication, late in the year, of 50 Great Myths About Atheism, co-authored by myself and Udo Schuklenk.

And of course Humanity Enhanced has now appeared from MIT Press, as per my previous post.

There were many other publications in 2013, and many more are in the pipeline for 2014 after work on them last year (stay tuned for more on that).

As the year went on, however, I found myself over-extended… so much so that by the last weeks of the year I was physically and mentally exhausted, and probably not very pleasant to deal with. It’s become plain to me that I need to do a bit less in 2014. Part of the problem was simply that so much of my work just happened to reach culmination point in 2013, which meant that I was deeply involved all year on several big projects at any one time, as well as with all the smaller things that came up. For much of the year I had three difficult books on the go simultaneously, all at different stages of development: 50 Great Myths About Atheism, Humanity Enhanced: Genetic Choice and the Challenge for Liberal Democracies, and Intelligence Unbound: The Future of Uploaded and Machine Minds (the book that I’ve been editing with Damien Broderick, due for publication later in 2014).

At this stage of my life, the books I’m involved in are going to be my highest priority – second only to the welfare of my family and loved ones, and my relationships with them – which will mean some scaling back with other things over the next few years. I already have a lot of my time and energy committed for 2014, and it will include getting some book proposals together, as well as promotion of the books that have just appeared, plus the work involved in getting Intelligence Unbound through the pipeline. I can’t see 2014 being very much less busy than 2013 was, but I do intend to find a bit more time when I’m not overwhelmed with work and can perhaps get some fun moments and tranquil moments with people whom I personally care about. There wasn’t a lot of that in 2013. I’m going to have to adopt more an attitude that things take as long as they take, rather than necessarily working around the clock to get things done quickly and squeeze even more in. We’ll see how that goes.

One aspect that will be different is that I had responsibility as chairman of the board of the Hunter Writers Centre for the first few months of 2013 – having stepped up at a difficult period of transition for that organisation. I feel that I did a solid job in that role, however interim it was, and I’ve managed to pass on the responsibility to what I hope and trust will be safe hands. I won’t be in a hurry to take on organisational responsibilities like that in the near future, as it can become very intense and time consuming to do this properly.

In all, 2014 will require at least some scaling back from me in what I think I can do – and some change in attitude. So that’s the nearest thing to a new year’s resolution from me. I still expect to be getting work done on several books that I’m involved in to different extents (apart from anything else, there’s getting Intelligence Unbound through the pipeline), and I’m sure you’ll be seeing plenty of announcements from me. I expect that 2014 will, once again, be productive. But I’m hoping for a year that’s just a bit less frenetic, a bit less all work and no play, a bit more tranquil a bit more often.

And you?

  • http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

    I’ve been thinking about how to do 2014 differently, Russell, and I cannot come up with much. More exercise, fewer calories, more podcasts, fewer video games, more time with the kids (while they are still fun), less time tracking or interacting with the latest damnable internet kerfuffle. I’m talking about slight changes though, no more than 25-45% in any given category.