My New Year's Resolutions
I am a reviewer.
But, first and foremost, I'm a reader. As the second week of 2012 comes to a close, I sit here thinking about the choices I've made in these past two weeks, and how sometimes I don't know when to slow the hell down.
You see, I'm one of those that makes New Year's resolutions. I never used to be like that, but soon after I started writing reviews for the world to read, I realized that in order to make a name for myself and the site, I'd have to come up with a plan to optimize my time. By doing that, I would have more time to use towards reading, writing and maintaining the site. That was August of 2009.
Now, I sit here reflecting on these new resolutions for 2012, and just how far I've come since New Years Day of 2010. You see, it was then that I came up with the crazy idea to read 100 (one hundred) novels in a year. Whether I reviewed them all was a different matter. At the time I was so ambitious and ready to take on the world, that I told myself that that was exactly what I would do: I'd read 100 books and write a review for every last damn one of them, even if it killed me. Even if it meant I had no social life in 2010. I also set a goal of finding a way to optimize my time, that way I could reach my goal.
The idea came to me, after having visited horror author Brian Keene's year-end Top 10 Books of *insert year here*. In that post he mentioned that on average he managed to read 100 books or more in a year. Sometimes he fell short, but more often than not, he managed to click over, or far surpass his goal. That struck me hard. As a 19 year old who wanted nothing more than to write for a living (a dream and goal that is still with me to this day, more than ever I might add), I took those words too heart. Probably too far, if you ask me. So, I made it my New Year's resolution.
Like most people with the ambition and the drive to accomplish their New Year's resolutions, I didn't exactly make it to the end of my goal. I'd like to say that I blew it out of the freakin' water, but that would be lying, and as my momma always says: “liars go to Hell.” And seeing as I'm not very fond of Hell, I'll try not to stray too far from the truth. That year, I read 67 titles in the span of 365 days. I was working part-time, and going to school the other half of the time. Not too shabby, but it wasn't close enough.
As 2010 bled into 2011, I aimed for the same goal: read 100 novels in a year. I told myself that even if I didn't hit 100, as long as I clicked over 68 titles, I'd be happy with myself. I did better than 68, but not by much. Last year, I only managed to read a meager six titles more than the previous year. I had been working up until August, and finished school for the Spring semester before taking the Summer and Fall semesters off. I took on a new position with a company, but I still had plenty of time on my hands.
So now, with 2011 finally under wraps, I can officially say that it was another year I failed my goal. Another year where I didn't review everything that I could. The last few months of 2011, I found myself speeding through book after book, but never managed to find time to write reviews for them. I can sit here and say that I did my best, but who am I kidding? I had time. And plenty of it. I wasn't happy with myself, and I'm still not. But such is life.
It was several weeks before the end of '11, and I knew that I had blown my goal. So, I sat down and started work on a strategy for the new year. I swore to myself up and down that this year would be different that the past two. They say that the third time's the charm, and even though my OCD would argue with that, I decided to take that adage to heart. This year would be the year that I didn't do just a little better than last, no. 2012 would be the year that I would blow the past two years out of the water.
At the very least, I'd hit 100 titles read in 2012. My strategy to do this was simple: I would read a short story a day, for a year. As much as I'd like to credit this idea to myself, I can't. One evening, a little before I sat down to come up with a strategy for the new year, I had an interesting conversation with fellow writer Nicole Cushing. Throughout the evening she talked about reading a short story a day. I didn't think much of it at first, but several days later, after recounting that evening to my girlfriend over the phone, something about the concept struck my fancy. So I stored it for later analysis.
A short story a day. Five to forty-five minutes of my day where I did nothing but devote my attention to a couple of thousand words. And when they ended, I would reach my daily goal. It was genius. Not only would reading a short story a day for an entire year help me with understanding the structure and concept of writing a short story, but if done right, could very well be the catalyst I needed for surpassing my yearly New Year's resolution of reading a 100 books in a year.
“Well a short story collection/anthology isn't a novel,” you might say. Yes, you're right, but most of the anthologies and collections that litter the shelves of brick and mortar bookstores these days are as long, if not longer than your traditional 80,000 word novel. So technically they could count. And if you still want to argue about it, tough. It's my New Year's resolution, and not yours. I make the rules, thank you very much.
I told all of that to tell you this: As of the close of the second week of the year, I'll have managed to have read 14 titles, -- seven to eight of which I plan on reviewing on Sci-Fi Guys -- before the end of January. (And yes I was smiling smugly as I typed that. Hell, I'm still smiling.) Three of those titles will be short story anthologies/collections. The other eleven will be a combination of novels, novellas, trade paperback comics, and non-fiction selections.
I recently managed to recount this to a dear out of town friend of mine, who after listening tentatively replied: “Sounds like you finally managed to beat your system/goals.”
I laughed, clapped him on the shoulder, and said: “No, I finally figured out how to manage my time.”
“Well, I guess we'll see if you reach your goals or not.” He said.
I smiled, and explained to him that I'd be keeping track of everything that I read in 2012, including individual short stories, not just personally, but publicly as well, on my personal blog The Bloody Pen (insert shameless plug here: www.thebloodypen.blogspot.com/).
“So, if I fall off the wagon, or get lazy you'll now. Just think, it'll give you more reason to call me!”
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