2017 Resolutions

1. Write and Submit.

What I want: I want to be a writer. I don’t need to make a living out of it—and I’m honestly not sure I could handle the stress (and lack of rigid schedule) that would come with doing so. But I still want to write stories, get better at it, and have a few of them published, if possible. I have a few short stories that really need to be submitted to places, and a few more that just need a revision or two before they’re ready to submit.

What I’m doing: My goal is to write 250 words/day. No increases in requirements after a month or anything, just write and be steady. Every day. I’m joining a new writing group at the beginning of the year, and I’m hoping that all of us can motivate each other to write, read, critique, and submit more, and stay on track with it.

2. Blog regularly.

What I want: A minimum of three posts per week, some ARC/release day reviews. Basically, I just want consistency. Also, this will force me to write more, and stay in the writing mood.

What I’m doing: As you’ve hopefully noticed, I’m now co-blogging with @conflictedesire, and this adds a lot of accountability. It also means that, most weeks, I don’t have to do all three posts myself. We’re aiming to split the reviews at one each, and have on of us do another “other” post on whatever seems relevant. This week, it’s this post.

3. Budget efficiently.

What I want: A regular budget that lets me know how much I can spend on things like keeping the URL for this blog (no longer at .wordpress.com), keep adding to my book collection, and have enough cards to enjoy playing Magic. I also plan to attend another few conventions in the coming year, and I’m hoping I can start saving money for the future…

What I’m doing: For starters, I’m working a full time job now. I’ve got a list of my expenses each month, and once I have a few other things settled, I’ll try to have set limits on what I spend on my hobbies each month. I’m kind of looking forward to handling all my finances, though it’s also quite terrifying.

4. Work on personal projects.

What I want: One or two personal programming projects that I keep working on and attempt to make something out of.

What I’m doing: I know what projects I want to do, and I have people to keep me accountable while working on them. One of them is a joint project with one of my best friends, and she’s going to make me stick to it. Another is more personal, but I’m excited about it, and hopefully I can use that to keep me going. We’ll see.

5. Travel a bit.

What I want: I really enjoyed going to WorldCon these past 2 years (I’ll hopefully have a 2016 WorldCon retrospective post up soon), and I’m hoping to branch out into some other cons this coming year, as well as attend another few events.

What I’m doing: I’m signed up for ICFA and JordanCon in March and April, respectively, with airfare and hotels booked. I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of new people at each of these conventions, and seeing some that I’ve met in the past. There’s also the release of Sanderson’s next Stormlight book sometime near the end of the year that I’m planning to take some time off to work at, which should get me out of the house in those later months (I’m not planning on doing WorldCon because it’s a bit too far away this coming year.). Fingers crossed that all of those work out for me.

6. Work out.

What I want: To be fit.

What I’m doing: My office has a gym in the basement, and I’ve filled out the paperwork to be able to use it. I sporadically started using the gym at my university last fall, and I hope that, now that school is over and things are hopefully more predictable/stable, I can be regular about going to the gym and working out.

7. Read regularly.

What I want: To read a lot more. 2016 was probably the worst reading year I’ve had since I learned how to read, and that’s really sad. I did do a significant amount of beta and gamma reading during the year, as well as preparatory rereads of other works so that I knew the continuity, and I didn’t really count these into my books read. They felt more like work, even though they’re books from authors whose work I absolutely LOVE, but I’m hoping to do more pleasure reading and get some new books read this next year. I also want to reduce my TBR.

What I’m doing: I have the blog to keep up with—a review every week—and that alone is some good motivation. In addition, i’m budgeting time every day to read, and hoping that, again, with a more regular work schedule, I can stick to this. I don’t want to set any hard and fast goals for the year, as I’m notoriously bad about tracking some of this stuff, but to do a review each week, I’ll say 52 books seems reasonable. I’m trying not to buy any new books unless A) I’m planning to read them immediately and B) I’ve “earned” them by net reduction of my TBR stack.

So there you have it. Those are my big goals for the year… I’ve not been the most successful about sticking to all of my goals in the past, so we’ll have to see how it goes this year. I’m optimistic, but not overly so. I hope.

Discussion Post: Some Thoughts on Reading

I’m currently participating in Faye’s Cosmere Readalong, and I absolutely love it. As you should know, Sanderson is my favorite author, ever. One of my favorite works of his is actually one of his shorter pieces, The Emperor’s Soul. It comes in at around 164 pages, and it’s firmly in the Novella category. It actually won the Hugo last year (2013) for best novella, a prize I think it deserved.

But I’m not here to talk about The Emperor’s Soul, though I will have a review up when I have a bit more time. [I have a handful of books I need to review. Hopefully I’ll catch up really soon.] I’m here to talk about how I read it–and how I enjoy reading books.

I have read the Emperor’s Soul three times now, and every time, I have read it in a single sitting, a single unbroken reading period, with only the briefest of breaks. It’s easy enough to do this with The Emperor’s Soul–it takes me under 2 hours. I read this way whenever I can. Last summer, I was suffering from a nasty fit of depression and I wanted a way out of this world. My way out was to read books, immersing myself in the lives of fictional characters and their worlds, living and breathing their air. I read a ridiculous number of books–I’m not even sure how many. But I had a few weeks where I was stuck at home with nothing I wanted to do, and I read. I made it through The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear combined in three days. I think I made it through Sanderson’s Alcatraz series in 2 days. (4 books, about 50,000 words each.) I re-read The Way of Kings in a little over a day. This wasn’t just over that one summer, either. Several years back, at the release of the last Harry Potter book, I was at the store at midnight, picked up my copy, went come, and read it cover to cover, pulling one of my first all-nighters. I did something similar with the releases of A Memory of Light and Steelheart. This is how I read, whenever I have the choice.

And I was not skimming these books, either. I was reading every word, absorbing and immersing myself as fully as I could. Last summer was, while still the worst I have ever felt in my life, at the same time an incredible experience. I loved being able to read books for hours on end, without caring about anything else, without having to ever get up and spend a few hours doing schoolwork, or deal with other distractions.

Not everyone reads this way. Some people will speed-read. I’ve never understood that idea, honestly. They’re not getting the full enjoyment of the book, the full content. They aren’t savoring all of the words and the intricacies that can pop up, even on a re-read. I caught a gyorn in my Emperor’s Soul reread that I didn’t see the first two times, and it was a neat easter-egg. [I spotted the main Elantris one on my first read–it’s much more obvious. If you don’t understand what I just said, go read Sanderson’s work. It’s amazing.] I don’t want to miss a single detail. Authors spend time painstakingly deciding exactly what to show us and what to avoid, cutting and trimming. Every word they publish is meant to be there, and I’ve never understood those who would skip over words just to finish more quickly.

Unfortunately, recently, I’ve not even been able to read any books in a single–or even small handful–of sittings recently. I’ve almost exclusively been restricted to reading a handful of pages every night, a chapter or two, and then getting back to the book the next day. I’ve found that this really does lessen my enjoyment–my sense of immersion–in the books I’ve been reading. I know that I’ve been reading some absolutely incredible books, and a handful of not so good ones, but I really feel as if I’ve lacked that sense of immersion. I’m still reading what feels like a book a week, though I may be going a little bit slower than that–or faster, on the best books, the ones where I’m willing to literally lose that precious hour of sleep to find out what happens next.

I’m not sure what to do about it, honestly. I will not resort to speed-reading in order to read the books more quickly, and there’s no way I’m going to just wait until I have time to read an entire book in 2-3 days. I know that a lot of my blogger friends are also busy people–how do you deal with this problem? Do you just get used to reading the books in smaller chunks, or do you have strategies for making more time to read them? Do any of you have a time turner or some bendalloy I can borrow? I want to know!