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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Book Review: The Escape Book by Ivan Tapia

The Escape Book, I Tapia

Source: Goodreads

I had a bit of a struggle rating this book if truth be told. I couldn’t decide on my final rating for a while just because I had very conflicting views on the book. On the one hand, it was a lot of fun to complete, and I did enjoy the puzzles and the general novelty of an escape room in book form. On the cover it says it’s the “first book based on the puzzle of escape rooms” and I’m excited that this is now a thing. On the other hand, the writing wasn’t the best and the content of the book tended to jerk you out of tension of the situation. Please keep reading for my review and, as always, I’ve added the review to Goodreads so please add me there.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Escape Book by Ivan Tapia”

Book Review: Firebird by Elizabeth Wein

Firebird, E Wein

Source: Goodreads

So I’m back! And I’m reading again! To ease myself into the new year and the three (THREE?!?) reading challenges I’m attempting, I went with a new novella from one of my favourite authors, Elizabeth Wein. I’m a bit of a WW2…kick? Lately? I really enjoyed this book. I also left my review on Goodreads, and feel free to add me there! Keep reading for my review and please don’t forget to leave a comment with your thoughts on the book or recommending any other similar books/authors!  Continue reading “Book Review: Firebird by Elizabeth Wein”

Update on my Reading and Writing Challenges 2015

Hey everyone. It’s roughly halfway through the year so I thought I’d update you all on my Reading and Writing goals. You can find the original post here.

I’m doing okay on the reading challenge. I’ve completed several of them (although I have yet to write reviews for most) and I have ideas for what I want to read for the others. I’ll get there. I still have half a year left.

As for the writing challenges…well. I haven’t written for at least half an hour every day – but I am determined to start, so hopefully I will be able to tick this one off. I started Camp NaNo but failed horribly. I am determined to do better on the actual NaNo in November though. Let’s see, shall we? I changed the “finish the first drafts of two books” goal to finish the first drafts of a book and a screenplay. I haven’t managed either yet BUT hopefully if I start writing every single day and kick ass in November then I will complete this one. There’s still hope!! And as for writing more fanfiction…I actually haven’t written any this year (although I have read a ton). I have a few ideas for fanfics though so I’ll definitely have written at least a few stories by the time the year is up.

So overall I’m not where I wanted to be in my goals so far, but I think that as long as I step up my game from now on, I can still complete most, if not all, of these goals. Wish me luck!

Camp Nano – How Badly did I Fail?

Well, I did better than last time that’s for sure. But still. I didn’t realise just how little time I would have to dedicate to it. I need to start practising making writing a part of everyday life and not a “whenever I get the chance” thing. But anyway.

My goal was 30,000 words across both of my projects (my novel and my screenplay). You can find my previous Camp post, detailing what my projects are about here. I wrote…4,612 words. Yeah. Not quite there, huh? My philosophy of “it’ll be fine, there’s nothing to distract me” didn’t quite work out. I’m going to work on incorporating writing into my daily routine for at least half an hour each day from now on.

Camp didn’t work out for me this time, but I’m not put off. The people in my cabin have been lovely and everyone is very supportive of each other. I’ll definitely be entering NaNoWriMo again this November – I’ve already got a couple of ideas floating around for novels. Hopefully I’ll finish rough drafts of these two projects this year too. Fingers crossed and all that. Just…maybe don’t hold your breaths, yeah?

Camp NaNoWriMo July 2015

Hey everyone! Well, Camp NaNo has begun today and I’m really excited to actually finish this time. I entered Camp in May of this year, and also the proper NaNo last November and failed miserably at both. Third time lucky! In case you haven’t heard of it, NaNoWriMo takes place in November when you are challenged to write a 50,000 word novel. Camp is slightly more lax in that you can choose your own word count. I chose 50k in May but 30k this time – hopefully I can exceed it and not get disheartened like last time! Unlike May and November, I don’t have university this month and I don’t have any upcoming exams, which means that, aside from moving into my new flat, I don’t have anything to distract me from writing. In this post, I’m going to explain a little about my projects this month, and I’m also going to do a couple of follow up posts so you can see how I’m getting on. If you’re doing Camp this month and are blogging about it, please leave a link in the comments. And my Camp name is A J Maslin – follow me if you want! You can look on the Camp about page or the FAQ page for more info. Here’s a link to my profile.

You’re supposed to do one project, but this month I’m going to be working on two. The first is a novel, and the second is a script/screenplay for a television series. I’m going to put both together for my word count.

My novel is the novel I entered into NaNo last November and didn’t even start, and the novel I was going to work on at Camp in May but got overshadowed by my exams. So this is the third chance for Last Train to the End of the World (working title). It’s about a spy, Calum, and an assassin, Bella, who have an unfortunate meeting on a train while both on assignment. Well, unfortunate for one of them. While Calum survives the incident with little more than a dislocated shoulder and a severely bruised ego, Bella isn’t quite so lucky. But when Calum steals a locket from her body, he discovers it’s not just a pretty pendent, and while later sifting through reams of paperwork in an attempt to find out who she is working for, he finds some disturbing information.

He thought he knew which side he was on, but it’s a lot more complicated than that. The Allies and the Enemies have just signed a tenuous peace treaty, and one side is already looking to break it. The question Calum must face is…which side? He assumes Bella’s identity as a notoriously successful and anonymous assassin, and heads off to discover the truth about the war that’s been constantly threatening his country since before his parents were born. But as he sinks deeper into his lies and this stranger’s life, he worries that he’s losing his grip on the reality he fights for. But the most terrifying thing of all? He’s not sure that he can bring himself to care.

Last Train is an adventure story about a spy who isn’t sure which side he should be on. It follows him from the first seeds of doubt to his final confrontation, and all the while he struggles, not just with the pressures of a looming war, but with creeping feelings he’s not sure how to handle.

Naked Fridays/The Secret Lives of the Young and Wild (working titles) is a screenplay for a television show in a similar vein to Sex and the City meets Girls. It follows six housemates who live in the city of Edinburgh. They all have vastly different jobs but all are determined to rise to the top. They are young, budding professionals, and they can’t wait for the day when they can buy a house and stop having to borrow underwear off each other because they don’t have the money to fix the washing machine. Until that day though, they all hide a secret. While they might be almost-professionals by day, they run a sex dungeon in their basement every Friday night, where they work as dominatrixes. They manage to keep their lives separate by heavily utilising code names and masks, but there’s lot’s of close calls ahead of them as they attempt to navigate city life as 20-somethings with many secrets in their closets. The first season will begin will the arrival of the newest housemate in Edinburgh, and follow their journeys, both separate and as a group, throughout the year.