New Year’s Resolutions 2021

Happy New Year! Wow, 2020 feels like it went by very quickly. Somehow it still feels like it’s March 12.

An assortment of furniture covered in plastic sheeting, in a room with bare white walls. Outside the windows, there is snow.
My year started with electricians rewiring my entire house.

I ended up doing a lot last year. It turns out that the thing I find most onerous about my job is simply the commute. Getting rid of it only gives me an extra 1.5 hours to my day, but somehow gives me 4 more hours of energy. I no longer feel like my day is over when I walk in the door at 5pm and I have to collapse in a stupor in front of YouTube until it’s time for bed.

I had two short stories published: “And She Rose in the Sky on a Pillar of Flame,” which was published in Fusion Fragment Issue #1 in March, and “A Bridge from Sea to Sky,” published in F&SF in the July/August issue.

A dark wood planter with a six foot tall trellis on the back. In front of it is a wooden chaise lounge with a brightly colored cushion.
I built the chaise lounge and the trellis out of wood left over from my deck demolition.

I did a LOT of projects around the house. I tore up my old wooden deck and laid a brick patio; extended my gardens and did some landscaping; painted every room in my house; built some patio furniture; refinished some other furniture; set up a 5 gallon and then a 20 gallon aquarium with a betta fish, four snails and three shrimp; carved a headboard; learned how to smock a pillow; learned how to crotchet (I did that one literally a few hours before midnight on Dec 31, coming in just under the wire). I finished the Turkish course on Duolingo and started learning Arabic.

A long rectangle carved in an intricate floral design, hanging on the wall over a bed.
It’s carved out of insulation foam.

These were last year’s resolutions:

  • Read 50 books – I read 51. I really got into audiobooks this year, because I can listen to them while I do other things around the house. I used to find them difficult to focus on, but I did a lot more physical projects like painting rooms and making art this year, which is perfect for audiobooks.
  • Finish 12 short stories – I did do 12, although I didn’t finish all of them. I did finish a first draft of 10 of them, though, which is quite good.
  • One story on submission at all times – I did manage this again, though partly that was helped by submitting to a couple markets early in the year that then took the rest of the year to respond. One of my submissions is now on day 300, as of today.
  • Finish novel revisions and start querying agents – I did this.
  • Start one regular physical activity – When quarantine started, I started talking walks every day that it wasn’t raining. I even did the Run Across America 50k challenge, where you walk or run 50 kilometers between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. I have cold-induced asthma that makes it very hard to spend much time outside when it’s below 45 degrees, but it turns out that masks help with that a lot. Who knew!
  • Blog about my various projects – I did not do this, but I thought about it. Does that count?
  • TWO PULL UPS – Well… no. I can do one and a half.
A bright blue betta fish draped over a rock with his face buried in gravel.
His name is Balığı and this is how he sleeps. Don’t worry, he’s fine.

Overall, that’s a pretty good showing. Now for this year’s resolutions:

  • Read 50 books – I think this should be pretty simple if I keep up with the audiobook thing.
  • Finish 20 short stories – My actual goal is to attempt writing a short story a week, but from past experience I know I won’t end up with 52 short stories. So I’m lowballing it and hoping to finish 20.
  • Finish 2 novellas – These are already in progress. I just need to finish them.
  • Send out 50 short story submissions – Last year was my least productive year in this regard, with 19 total story submissions. In the four years before that, I averaged about 30 per year. But I want to dramatically increase that this year.
  • Walk 750 miles – This one is kind of extreme, but it’s only about 2 miles a day. I know I won’t manage that every day, but I also can do more than 2 miles a day pretty easily, so that should work out. I’ll be happy if I reach 500, but I’m going to try to push myself to get 750.
  • Blog about my various projects – I went so far as to write a bunch of posts last year, but never published them because I felt no one would be interested. But I’d like to actually document them this year. (If you’re interested in my projects, I tend to post them on Instagram.)

Let’s hope that 2021 is a good year for a change.

New year, same me

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Happy New Year! Let’s make this year a good one.

To start: if you happen to be nominating for awards right now, my short story, “All Profound and Logical Minds,” is eligible as a short story published in 2018.

Last year was a particularly long one, and not just because it was the hell year that was 2018. No, last year was 15 months long because I started it in October of 2017, since 2017 had been such a hell year itself that I wanted to cut that one short.

On a personal front, the extra-long 2018 was marginally better than 2017. I bought a house, which I’m still happy about despite the traditional breaking-of-all-the-things that happens when you become a homeowner. In fact as we speak I’m waiting on some plumbers to come and fix my steam heat, which another plumber broke a year ago and which has been banging and howling ever since. Yes, it’s been a literal year of banging and howling pipes (save the months when it was warm enough not to turn on the heat), but the plumber who broke it insisted that “that’s just what steam heat sounds like” and that I was overreacting. Folks, if you can’t sleep on the second floor because it sounds like someone is standing in the basement banging on pipes with a wrench and blowing a whistle, that means there’s something wrong. But other than that, the house is wonderful and I’ve enjoyed every second of my time here.

Provincetown
A beautiful June day in P-town

In October, I was diagnosed with ADHD and started taking Adderall, which had the immediate and unexpected side effect of causing me to start reading books again. Up through high school, I read nonstop, but that changed in college and my reading has been slow and sporadic since then. I read, but mostly I would abandon books partway through. Most of my fiction consumption came through podcasts like Escape Pod and Pseudopod, which I could listen to on my commute.

I started Adderall on October 10th. Starting that day and going through December 31, I read 22 books. That works out to a book roughly every three and a half days, but actually I know that I took a week or two off of reading in November while I was doing Nanowrimo. This has been so refreshing. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to read again.

Hands/feet

So without further ado, let’s look at last year’s goals and see how we did:

  • Write a novel during at least one of the two Nanowrimos that 2018 is projected to have, assuming 2018 doesn’t go poorly and there’s another schedule change—Sort of! I wrote the first half of a novel this past Nanowrimo. It’s a good start and I’m excited about it, so I’ll count this as a win.
  • Finish 5 short stories—Not quite. I finished three short stories and got halfway through two more. Close but no cigar. Though I’m happy with the three I finished.
  • Compose more music. Say 5 more songs, just to quantify it.—I started to say that I hadn’t composed anything in the last 15 months, but actually it looks like I uploaded 2 songs to my Soundcloud back in February.
  • Get a Y membership and start taking classes again—I did get a Y membership and I even took a 5am spin class for a while. Then I stopped. But that still counts.
  • Start rock climbing again, once I start getting active.—I did for a few weeks. Then I stopped. But that also counts.
  • Start jogging again.—Nope.
  • A SINGLE PULL UP.—Nope.
  • Make sure to have at least one story out on submission at all times—I believe I did accomplish this.  I don’t think there was any length of time in 2018 that I didn’t have at least one story out on sub. I did sell a reprint to Glittership in February.

I’m pretty happy with what I achieved. Sure, I didn’t get all of them, and some of them only passed on a technicality, but I did make an effort towards most of them, so I’ll take it.

This year’s goals:

  • Read 50 books. I just set this as my Goodreads goal. I’ve already read two books this year. (Technically I started one of them on Dec 31 but I finished it Jan 1 so that counts).
  • Finish 5 short stories. This can include the two that I started in 2018.
  • At least one short story on submission at all times. Might as well keep up with this.
  • Finish a novel. Whether this means the one I started in 2018 or a new one, I want a finished first draft.
  • Start one regular physical activity (such as jogging, rock climbing, an exercise class, or something new) that I stick with at least once per week for at least six months. No more winning on a technicality for this one.
  • A SINGLE PULL UP. Maybe this year is the year.

Resolutions and eligibility

Wait, am I eligible for anything this year? I am! Here is the incredibly short list of my award-eligible work:

“Smooth Stones and Empty Bones,” F&SF Jan/Feb 2016. This story was just listed in the Tangent Online Recommended Reading List for 2016.

Also, as this is my first year of being published, I am now eligible to be nominated for the John W. Campbell Award. If you were wondering.

Meanwhile: resolutions!

Continue reading “Resolutions and eligibility”

A fresh start

Our traditional New Year's Eve sushi extravaganza.
Our traditional New Year’s Eve sushi.

I survived the end of December, although just barely. I got ridiculously sick on Christmas Eve and decided to spread the cheer by giving the cold to all of my friends and family.

My New Year’s resolutions are, like every year, about writing. This time I’m being a little more concrete with my goals. The three things I’d like to do in the new year are:

  • Write more
  • Walk more
  • Art more

To make this more tangible, I’ve made it my goal to do at least one of these things each day before I sink back into video games. I can either put a small amount of effort towards all three (a couple sketches, some brainstorming, and an exercise class), put a moderate amount towards two of them (make my 10,000 step daily goal and also write about 2,000 words), or put a great deal of effort towards one (run a 5k, do a binge writing session of 5,000+ words, or do a whole illustration). I think this is a more sustainable way of doing it, at least for myself. Having a variety of choices will take away that feeling of being stuck in a rut.

A while back my friend Méabh mentioned a writing and dieting plan that said you could eat as many calories as the number of words you’d written that day. Works well for people who want to write 1,500-2,500 words a day, but isn’t that healthy if it strays too far out of that range. I thought that another way of doing it would be to pick a number (say 12,000) and give myself the goal of reaching that number through number of steps walked, number of words written, or a combination of the two. The more I walk, the less I have to write, and vice versa. So far this year I’ve done very well with keeping my combo count at or over 12,000 but it’s only January 7th, so we’ll see.

Anyone else have any concrete plans for doing better in the new year? How long do you expect to last at it?