Reflections of the Past, Resolutions for the Future

Wow, what a year!

2014 was packed full for me, of both the good and the bad, but thankfully mostly good. My biggest achievement was earning a Bachelor’s degree in English at the University of New Hampshire, and I am extremely proud of myself for accomplishing that. I am so happy that part of my life is over – going to school full time is difficult while working and being a father of two small children. Part of me yearns to go back, though. Not just to earn a Master’s degree, but to sit in a room and talk books and writing with other like-minded people, to share my stories with them and to read theirs, to receive feedback and give my own thoughts and opinions. I miss that sense of community. Perhaps I should join a club…

The rest of the year flew by with the wind. Summer was over before I knew it, Halloween and Thanksgiving came and went, and Christmas was upon us almost before we had the decorations up. Now they are all taken down and today is the last day of 2014. Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow is a new year. And with every new year comes the time to reflect on the past and create resolutions for the future.

My goals for this year were only partially met, and I am not upset about it. Not too much, anyway. This year gave me a good bearing on what I can accomplish, and now I can set better goals for next year.

My first goal for this year was to read at least twenty-four books. I thought I would struggle with this one, but I passed it with ease around June or July. My final tally was: 51 books, 3 plays, and 28 short stories and novellas. Of the 51 books, 7 were non-fiction and 6 were collections of shorter works. It was an amazing and inspiring year of reading. I read great books and crappy books, long books and short books, old books and new books. I read books that I had never heard of and books that sat on my t-read list until they were covered in time-dust. I read fantasy and science fiction, horror and mystery and thriller, even some romance. I tried not to limit myself too much. The most important thing is that I learned something from every book. Some books had hidden jewels or inspirational passages, some had influential ideas or masterful architecture, and others taught me what not to do.

Next year, I am going to push myself a little harder. My goal is to read 55 books, 12 plays, and 25 short stories and novellas. I want to dust off a few more that are on the to-read list as well as explore with new authors and genres. I also want to read Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series again. I was too young when I read them the first time and want to read them with my more experienced writer’s mind. As for the plays, I started reading Shakespeare this year from the beginning. I am jumping past the Histories for now, but plan to read them in order of when they occurred in history (instead of when he wrote them). Hopefully I can surpass this goal again.

My next goal was for writing, and I did horribly, though I can’t say I’m not proud of what I did accomplish. My goal of 1,000 words a day was crushed into oblivion. I have come to the realization that I will not accomplish this until I can start selling stories and quit my part-time job. I also need a private writing space where I can be alone without interruption, which is also not possible because I need to watch over my hardly-napping two-year old. Sometimes the TV can babysit, but other times she just wants Daddy, and it’s extremely difficult to deny a princess. I also didn’t meet my one short story a month goal. I only wrote 9, but that is still the most I’ve ever done in one year. I can see my writing getting better with each story, though, and that is good enough for me.

This time I am lowering my goal to 500 words per day, or 3,000 per week. I still want to push myself to do more than that whenever I can, but I want to make sue I can set aside time to do at least 500. I still want to do one short story per month, and of course my ultimate priority is to get published. This year will be the year I accomplish that. I had set aside the novel earlier in the year so that I could focus on the short stories, but I have recently starting working on it again and plan to finish it by the end of 2015.

My final goal for this year was to lose some weight. And I did. Not as much as I had hoped but I finally broke free of the 190-195 plateau a little over a month ago. I hit 188 the other day, and now that the big eating holidays are over, I think I can shed a few more. I really want to fit into that pin-striped suit again!

And now is the time when we say goodbye to 2014 and hello to 2015. I hope your year was as fruitful as mine, and good luck with all your resolutions for next year!

Cheers!

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Progress Report

At the beginning of the year, I told myself I would keep up on this blog–at least once a month, preferably once a week–just to keep myself actively engaged in writing. But then, towards the end of my final semester in college, I took a break to focus more on my schoolwork, most of which I barely managed to complete on time. And when the semester ended, and I was finally finished with school and earned myself a degree, I thought about returning to the blogosphere to maintain that one post a week that I had somehow managed to keep up for the first four months of the year. At the same time, though, I started using all my writing time for fiction, and I decided that was a much better idea. The blog could wait.

And it did. I found it’s still here, just the same as it was before. Imagine that.

Now that summer is almost over, I have taken a few moments to reflect on the past few months, and reviewing my New Years Resolutions, I decided to give a little update. A lot has happened.

My main resolution was to write. My goal was to become published; at least one short story out there for the world to read if they choose. I also wanted to maintain an average of about 1,000 words per day, write at least one short story per month, and work on the novel on the side. Unfortunately, none of that has happened. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working hard. I have accomplished more this year than I have any other year in my past, and I am extremely happy with that. I don’t even think I’ve averaged 500 words a day, but I have completed nine short stories this year, and seven of those have been brought into being since school ended in mid-May. For the most part, I have been following a routine, which is good because I know it’s important. I feel a little burnt out, though, and for the past month I have been writing a lot less. I cut my writing time in half, managing only 100-200 words most days, just so I can spend more time with my kids before my son goes back to school. I feel that is the best decision, even if it hurts my writing. I still make sure I write SOMETHING every day, though, and that I am content with, for now. Next year is a whole new story, especially if I can get published this year. I do feel my writing keeps getting better and better, and that is not just my ego talking. I have learned a great deal by reading and writing a lot, not to mention the advice from other writers.

My reading objective is doing much better. I have been following the #readeverywhere advice, and I have been reading everywhere. I had originally planned to read 25 books this year, thinking that was a lot. It’s not. I’ve already hit 29. Five of those were non-fiction, and another five were collections of short stories. I have also read twelve separate short stories (from magazines or books or whatever). Now that I’ve seen how much I can actually read when I try, I will definitely bump that number up to 50 next year. I am maintaining a list of everything I read, even rating each book and story, and I plan on posting it at the end of the year, instead of writing a review like I had starting doing. That was just too much, and was taking away from my writing time.

My other resolution was to lose a few pounds, and I am happy to say I have succeeded. 12 pounds have been shed, and I see more going away in the future. At least until Thanksgiving and Christmas come around. But I have been more active lately, and have been eating and drinking less. I feel great. That’s the important thing.

So overall, I would say I have succeeded quite a bit so far this year. Though my writing is lacking a bit, I have still accomplished more than ever. It would be unwise for me to complain about that. There’s always room for improvement, though, and that I plan on doing.