This Year I Will…Oh, Not Again!

I’ve made resolutions every year for a long time and now, sitting here in bed at lunchtime on a Saturday, I can’t actually recall one I’ve kept. Not long term. Not for real. That’s the problem with New Years Resolutions though, isn’t it? Just a group of people standing still as the clock strikes twelve, the first day of a new year, the first day of a new you. And we feel inspired (and probably drunk). We feel invigorated. We feel like we can do anything. Flash forward a few weeks and those 20 resolutions are pretty far from your mind. And the thing is, the father into the year you get the less realistic your goals seem. The less impetus you have to actually complete or continue or work towards or start. To think the start of a new year is it, this is the one, this time I will is just dangerous. And kinda deflating.

2018 had some glorious moments. I went on more holidays than I ever have in a year before. I worked hard and I spent pretty much everything on exploring new places and trying new things. I don’t regret any of it. I saw beautiful, brilliant places and everywhere I went I fell in love. I was selected to attend the Penguin Random House WriteNow 2018 conference in Nottingham. I wasn’t prepared for the emotions that would be elicited, the passion and inspiration I would feel afterwards. I wasn’t prepared for the confidence it instilled in me whenever I look at my own work now. I wasn’t selected as a winner by PRH. But in my head I think I’ve won, something at least. I won the chance to hear real life publishers and editors and agents say to me “your book sounds so good” and “that’s the kind of book I love pitching to publishers” and “your writing is so wonderfully atmospheric”. These are all direct quotes. I have remembered them. I have written them down and inscribed them on my brain, I have cradled them and hugged them and pressed them close to my chest in moments of self-doubt and loneliness and fear. They have comforted me and driven me and inspired me. They have taught me not to give up, to stand strong, to finish this book and every book after it and to send them into the world. It was the best day of my rather short life so far. I imagine it will be the best day of my life for quite some time to come.

2018 also had some harrowing moments. I have felt adrift for a long time now. I think I’m in a bad place, and I’ve now made peace with the fact that I need to do something about it. I want to both tether myself to safety and float off into the clouds. I want to live bigger and brighter and freer and at the same time it’d be great if I could just stop. Just for a while. Just long enough to free myself of the fog that has engulfed me for longer than I care to admit to, longer, I fear, than I can remember. If the world could stop spinning for a minute or hour or day or week. If I could just stand still and stop for a month or a year, would it make it better? Would I emerge from hibernation a free woman? Would I know who I am, what I want, what I need? Or would I have wasted precious time just lying in the fog?

This year I’m not making resolutions. Not in the tradition sense. I don’t want more goals that I will never achieve hanging over my head. Instead, I have chosen an aim for the year, just one, and a list of objectives that will help me reach it. My aim is to end 2019 in a better place than when I started. I know, I know. So much for not being too ambitious, huh? How will I do this? By hopefully having more self control and motivation to complete some of the objectives than I ever had to complete resolutions.

Objectives for 2019

  1. To figure out who I am. Let’s start with the biggie, amirite? I want to spend more time learning who I am and what I want, and improving the parts of me I want to improve. I want to blog more, maybe start journalling, write more, do more art. Express myself spiritually. Maybe do some yoga or something. I want to exercise more and care more about what I put into my body. I want to learn to care for myself more than I do now. It’ll be a long slog. I don’t expect to be perfect on the 31st of December. But I want to be better. I want to feel better.
  2. To explore the world outside my home. 2018 was a great year for travel and experiences. This year I want  to continue to broaden my horizons and see new things. And not just travelling abroad – I want to see more of Edinburgh, my city, and of Scotland and the UK. I want to go to more book talks. I want to join a book club and an am-dram society and maybe a writing club. I want to go on long walks and listen to music and podcasts and audiobooks. I want to take a book with me wherever I go, and sit in new cafes and new parks and read. I want to visit all the museums and bookshops and galleries I can find, and soak myself in art and culture and shows and freedom. And I want to travel. Everywhere. Anywhere.  To establish a little corner of the world just for me.
  3. I want to be happy (or at least happier) in a job/career sense. I want to find a place where I don’t feel sick whenever I’m at work. Maybe it doesn’t have to be a forever career. Not yet. I’m only 23. I have time. But I spend so much of my life at work. I want to be somewhere I can enjoy rather than tolerate, somewhere that doesn’t make me sick with stress and anxiety and crushing sadness.
  4. I want to write more. Sounds simple for a writer. But in a more specific sense, I aim to have the WIP I took to WriteNow 2018 finished and READY TO SUBMIT TO AGENTS/PUBLISHERS by the one year anniversary of that day. So September. I have 3/4 of a year. I can do this. I also want to start writing other things. Short stories, some screenplays, little drabbles about my characters, fanfiction, everything. And I want to enter some writing competitions. Hone my skills. Make some moneys. Show myself that a career as a writer might actually be possible (hah, when I’m like 60  and have a body of work as long as 20 buses maybe). If I enter my work into things I have a shot at being published before the year is out. If I don’t enter anything, I do not. It’s just that simple really, isn’t it?

 

I want to leave it there. I’m not going to overwhelm myself. And I’ll try not to beat myself up if it gets to the end of February and then March and then April and I’m still sad and stuck and struggling. It’s a process. It’s a long one. But by focusing on the one thing I want (to be happy) and the four general steps (okay, four general leaps) I can take to get there, maybe I’ll end this year in a bit of a better place. Even marginally. That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day. Whether you stick to resolutions or not, don’t get yourself down. All that matters is we’ve all survived another year, and fingers crossed when we look back we can still see some good for the bad.

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So Resolutions, Huh?

Like I said in my new years resolutions post – you can find it here – I’m pretty bad at keeping on track. I thought I might have an easier time staying on the straight and narrow if I checked in with myself occasionally to see how things are going. This probably isn’t going to be a monthly thing, but I’ll try to check in regularly and see if it helps. Feel free to use the comments as your own checking in page! How are you getting along? Have you broken any resolutions? Changed any? Are you smashing through them like the gods/goddesses you are? Let’s chat in the comments, and spur each other on!

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Good Food Recs: Treehouse Cafe, Edinburgh

So you guys know that I’ve lived in Edinburgh for going on 4 years now. In a city as big and diverse as this, there’s so many cool independent places to go and eat. Last week I had brunch at the Treehouse Cafe on Leven Street, Edinburgh. It’s up next to Bruntsfield Links, and it does REALLY GOOD PANCAKES.

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2018 Goals and Resolutions

Happy New Year! And yes, I’m aware that it’s pretty beyond the new year now, but I was in Valencia and this is the first time I’ve sat down this year! 2018! I sometimes find New Years Resolutions to be a waste of time. Who actually sticks to them, eh? Certainly not me. But there are things I want to do this year and I’m (hopefully) a bit more determined to see them through. I’ve also kept these resolutions as a note on my phone, and may write them into my 2018 day planner/diary so that I’m reminded of them more often. There’s no point in a resolution if you forget about it until November and then say “ahh well, too late now”!

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Why Am I Always So Behind on Goodreads?

My Goodreads profile is always a long way behind my actual reading. I like my short Goodreads reviews to compliment my more in depth reviews here on my blog, which means I tend to write them at the same time. But…I’ll be the first to admit that I’m pretty useless at keeping up. I even have a column on my reading spreadsheet reminding me to write reviews, but I still manage to fall behind. It’s just not that easy to write a long, detailed review when life gets in the way, and that means I don’t update my Goodreads either. I’ve been having some struggles recently (and not so recently) that have thrown me way off base, and I’m struggling to know what to do next. I still read but my reading is marred by reality’s ugly head, and having the time and mental energy to review has seemed impossible. While I can think all to well about what I want to say, when it comes down to actually getting it done and dusted I seem stuck. And that blows. A lot.

Just today I moved 6 books from my current list to my read list. I still haven’t reviewed them, but my head seems clearer today than it has in a long time so maybe I can blast some out and get back on track. Just putting a rating and “review to follow” on my books has allowed me to shift them off the current list, and it means I’m catching up to my Goodreads target again. Now I just need to start writing before I actually forget what I thought of the books. For this very reason, I keep rough notes on my phone as I read, so that I can build on them more, but still, it can be hard to remember weeks later what you planned on saying.

We all have our ups and downs, and for the most part reading helps me through mine. I like to review my books so that, later on, I can look back and remember why I enjoyed it (or didn’t), so that I can see whether it’s worth it to reread. It would be nice if my reviews introduced people to books they’d never read too, though reading is so subjective and I always think that it’s better to read and form your own opinion on a book instead of avoiding it because others didn’t like it (or worse, feeling as though you have to enjoy it just because everyone else thinks it’s the best book in the world). Most of the time, writing a review is just part of the reading process to me. It helps me slow down and consider what I’ve just read, rather than running from one book to the next without breath, without remembering what I’ve read or how it made me feel. In these times though, when life itself seems such a chore, reviewing can seem almost impossible. I’m trying though. I hope it picks up. I hope I can get some done before the next wave hits. And maybe this time I won’t fall so far behind.

Holidays Book Haul

Every year since I started university I come home for Christmas but this year was special because I got to come back for a whole month!! A month of free food, no exams or uni work and constant DOGS! Utter bliss. I managed to see so many friends (and in fact a friend from Edinburgh came to spend a few days with me and my folks over Christmas which was nice) and I bought some books. In the sales. Because I have very little self control (read literally none whatsoever). I only bought 6 though! So maybe I’m getting better in my ripe old age?

(All book cover images were taken from google because my camera was being mean to me.)

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2017 Literary Goals

2016 has been a trying year. Much has happened in my personal life (and in the wider world) and sadly the majority of it has been bad. It’s hard to carry on with the things you love when you can think of nothing other than the bad stuff going on (or it’s hard for me anyway). Unfortunately I didn’t read much in 2016 and, even worse, I didn’t track any of my reading so I don’t really know what I did and whether I read what I wanted to. 2017, hopefully, will be different. And so, with this in mind, I made some goals for the coming year. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep up with them! Here’s to next year, hopefully it’s better than last year.

Goal #1 – Listen to at least 6 audio books. 

I’ve had an audible account for a while now and I’m racking up the audio books, but I haven’t actually listened to any for a while. I used to listen to them at the gym but then I discovered some amazing podcasts and they pretty much took over my life. I’d like to get back into listening to audio books, and hopefully one every two months will be a more than achievable goal.

Goal #2 – Keep up with reviews.

Reviews aren’t just fun for me, they’re actually pretty helpful. I like to read but unless I become obsessed with a book it can be hard for me to remember everything that happens and what I like and dislike. If I write it all down in a review I can look back on it in the future and know what I did and did not enjoy. I also know that reading reviews can be helpful for others when they’re deciding whether to pick up a book and I love being able to guide people into finding books they love. Hopefully I’ll be doing far more reviews this coming year so watch out for them!

Goal #3 – Start a spreadsheet to track my reading and read a wider variety.

Like I said before, I didn’t track my reading at all this past year and so I really have no idea what I read. In 2017 I may go a tiiiiiny bit overboard in the opposite direction – I’ve created a huge spreadsheet to document my reading. It has around 26 columns from title, author and date published all the way through to various forms of representation. I’m tracking a lot. It may end up being too much, and maybe half my columns will lie unused for most of the year, but I think it’s important to me to try and get all of this information down. It also ties in to the goal of wider reading. I want to read a wider variety of authors and characters (not just straight white teens written by straight white adults), I want to read more genres and get out of my comfort zone, and I really want to read more non fiction. Hopefully by charting all of this information I can really see whether I’m being more diverse and, if not, I can change things up so that I am.

Goal #4 – Participate in the POPSUGAR 2017 Reading Challenge AND the Book Riot 2017 Read Harder Challenge. 

I’ve never really done a reading challenge like this before, but I figure it may help me expand my reading a bit (and so ties in nicely with my previous goal). I probably won’t be able to read a separate book for each part of each challenge, but hopefully I will for most of them! I’m aiming to complete the Book Riot challenge fully, and complete the main section of the POPSUGAR one. I may not get onto the “Advanced” section for POPSUGAR but here’s hoping! If you guys are interested in these challenges you can find the Book Riot challenge here and the POPSUGAR challenge here.

Goal #5 – Read (at some point this year) THESE specific books.

I usually don’t make lists of books I “HAVE” to read within a certain month/year because it puts pressure on to just “get it done” and then I might not enjoy them as much as I would usually. There are certain books I really want to read this year so I really hope I’ll find time for them at some point in 2017. They are:

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – yes I still haven’t read it (not my fault, my copy was delivered to my parents home not my flat and this is the first time I’ve been back to my family home this year) but I need to. I. Need. To.

The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman – I started this book a while back but I never finished it and now I’ve forgotten most of it. Hopefully at some point this year I can restart it and actually finish it this time!

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – Jodi came to do a talk about this book in Edinburgh and my flatmate and I went along. It was brilliant! She had great insight and her talk was beautiful. I can’t wait to get the chance to read this one.

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser // Bad Food Britain by Joanna Blythman // The Shape We’re In by Sarah Boseley – these all fit under the same category really, but they’re all factual books about the food industry that I’m really interested to read and see how accurate and unbiased they are. I haven’t really read much about the food/diet industry but it’s a field that does interest me so hopefully I’ll get my teeth into these three this year.

Do you guys have any reading goals for 2017? Mine aren’t very specific (apart from the last one) but hopefully I’ll get back into reading for pleasure and interest this year and it’ll be a great year! Here’s hoping, eh?