I confess that I'm a bit of a hypocrite - because I've been reading posts about everyone's goals for the new year and I roll my eyes. I'm sure it's documented somewhere that most new year resolutions fall off by February.
And here I am. A sheep. In Wolfe's clothing. Ha ha.
I guess that I'm doing this obligatory post mostly for my own satisfaction - this blog gets some hits, but I don't have the followers or comments here that I've had elsewhere. For now. I'm going to work on that.
When I kept a review blog a year or two ago, there was slightly more traffic and/or watchers - though I suspect that this was a function of "You watch my blog and I'll watch yours." Still. One of the things I did at the beginning of the month was to "mark all as read" in my google reader, and I've been keeping up ever since. Eventually, I'll get around to actually commenting, and (theoretically) that will bring more traffic.
Why? Because it's more interesting to post when people respond.
Reading Goals: Mondays, I'm going to post my reading journal. My goal is a fiction book a week, and one non-fiction book per month. Last year, I read several authors that were new to me, and I want to continue this trend, as well as returning to authors whose skill is much greater than mine, such as Jacqueline Carey, Guy Gavriel Kay and George R. R. Martin. I also want to balance male and female authors. There's something to be gained, as a male author, by reading a female's voice.
In fiction, I am going to return to epic fantasy and historical fantasy as my primary reading efforts - with urban fantasy for my leisure/entertainment reading (meaning: Going to finish up the Southern Vampire Mysteries series, and continue with Patricia Briggs and Carrie Vaughn). I'm going for a ratio of 3 epic fantasy per historical and urban fantasies read.
Last year I didn't keep stats for my reading - this year I'm going to keep records, so that I can look back and see how well I did. Why? Reading is part of an author's job. Seeing what others do right, do wrong, do differently, do exceptionally well. The enjoyment I find in reading a well-crafted tale inspires me and my muse towards my own material.
Writing Goals: "Catalyst" is about 40% revised and edited and sitting at about 135k words. There are some fatty sections that need to be trimmed to appeal to the current market. There are some parts that need to be added as well. Ideally, I suspect I should aim for 110k words, but my goal is 125k. Adding in a few antagonist(s) POV chapters, I believe, will support that word count.
Beyond that? Two short stories that fall in the same timeline as "Catalyst", that I need to write for the canon of the world events and tribal foundations. They are mostly notes on pages at this point, though I have the stories in my head. After those are written, I'd like to put down at least 50,000 words towards the next full length project. Ideally, twice that.
Professionally, "Catalyst" to be ready for submission by summertime, giving me a few months by which to hone my query letter and continue research on suitable agents. Not likely a process I will be detailing too much here.
Lastly, the availability of online writing workshops and their relative drop in price has made me reconsider them. I'd like to attend at least one class here, or attend one or two workshops online, before the end of the year. The benefits are countless - but first and foremost, I need to have a finished manuscript.
My financial and domestic situation has never fully balanced out since becoming unemployed in summer 2009. I've worked sporadically in 2010/2011, but nothing special (or permanent), as it turns out. Ultimately, staying with friends and struggling to make ends meet goes a long way towards distracting me from creativity - so this is something I've got to take some time and get on top of. Essentially, I have to choose to pursue writing as my career and find a job that will support that - or pursue my career and go back to writing as a secondary venture. What I'm doing now is neither, and it's not working. I need my own place, my own workspace, and a sense of sanctuary.
Last week, I started working out at a gym. You might be surprised to learn that I'm out of shape, because I'm rather slender. I gained a lot of weight when I was unemployed - and it all went to my midsection. Also, I haven't pursued any serious fitness regimen in over a decade, so I've not only gained some fat, but I've lost what muscle I did have.
Turns out I function better when I get up super early in the morning, work out and get on with the day. That's not terribly surprising, after all - more like a "duh" moment. But it feels good, and I'm in need of it.
Which means I have to quit smoking. I actually like smoking... there's something useful about getting up from the computer, stepping outside, gazing at the surroundings... I have done my best thinking while smoking. But it's also stupid to run 2 miles on a treadmill and then smoke afterwards. Really, really stupid. I just turned 40 last year, and ... yes, it's time to quit. Today, I try the nicotine patch. We'll see how it goes.
It's a funny thing, gaining weight and balancing nutrition with Crohn's Disease. Working out (and quitting smoking) makes you eat more - but Crohn's is not kind to absorption, and the biggest problem I've had with quitting in the past is being able to process all the extra food that I want to eat. I'm hoping that balancing this out with more physical activity will give my body something to do with the extra food, rather than it just irritating my intestines. The other side of that issue is that, due to bad nutrient absorption, all that working out is wasted and muscles don't get what they need to heal. I'm happy to have gained weight, but I need to make this program work so that I can convert it into muscle from fat.
Lastly, this year, I'm happy. I got a little angsted towards the end of 2011, between personal challenges and things not working out the way I would have liked. Not only was it a bummer towards my creativity, but it made me angry and depressed and all sorts of feelings that I decided that I didn't like. You pretty much reach a point where you have to decide what you're going to do - keep doing what you're doing, or do something different. With the New Year came the perfect timing and excuse to get back on track.
All things considered, life is good. Getting better. I just had to remember that.
Reading journal, writing journal - mostly for me, to see if what I think I'm doing actually has any basis in reality. Also, because I want to compare my progress to the book review blogs I read (morbid curiosity). (Also, also) I think I will track sf/f, historical fantasies and documentaries that I watch - I find myself connecting pieces of puzzles with certain stories told with documentaries covering something similar, etc. You'll see, or rather, I'll see how that works out. Har.
Reviewing - I will still do the occasional review for Librarything, whenever I get chosen there. Beyond that, I'm not inclined to review current works/authors - plenty of folks doing that, and they're much better than me. However, for non-fiction and for older works (Marquis de Sade is on my TBR pile), I will likely write up something more comprehensive - though it still won't be a review.
I have ideas for features, and it will really just be a matter of seeing if I have the time to implement them. I like the idea of divulging some of Zherlios' canon, revealing some of the worldbuilding tidbits here and there - with the possible issue of some factoids changing over time as I do more research. I notice that certain issues spring up on author/reviewer/sff blogs that I may pipe in with my 2 cents worth. (The latest one is moral ambiguity in fiction, which is a rehashed argument from a year ago.)
I like the idea of exploring fantasy tropes, and pursuing the idea I started a couple of years ago. Though, I'm not certain if this doesn't fall in with worldbuilding/canon. Going to play this by ear, too.
Magic the Gathering: I've done little more than collect a ton of cards as a hobby, but Dark Ascension is coming out at the end of the month, and the one MTG post I wrote last year has more hits than anything else I've written.
Problem with certain topics is that you pretty much can't discuss anything that someone else hasn't already covered and with likely more skill. Technically, that shouldn't matter.
Ultimately, though, this blog remains a playground for thoughts and ideas and a place to share. The goal is simply to generate more discussions and be more consistent with content. We'll go from there.
Big ass post. Damn. I gotta work on that, too.
What are your goals in 2012?