Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Wrapping Up 2013, Looking Forward 2014

Last year I said "I'm going to exercise my willpower more". Hahahahaha. I'm going to scrap the format of the last few year end posts and just type away a bit. This year was mostly eaten away by a three month summer trip around Ireland, England and Portugal, book-ended by two busy semesters (the first overloaded with school work, the second overloaded with paid work). Once again I did not meet my reading goal - I consistently seem to fall around 10 books short, so instead of making my goal 75 again for this year perhaps I should make it 65! I read 67 books in 2013, quite a drop from last year's 90 or 92 (my GoodReads 2012 shelf says 92). I had adjusted my goal for 2013 to 75 to account for the summer, during which I did actually read six or seven books. This year the slacking came in the fall, when I had to re-devote myself to work and school.

I accomplished my one niche reading goal of 10 Tolkien books this year. I was going to say I fudged this a bit by including three movie books on the list (though they were beautiful and informative reads) but then I recalled I counted The Lord of the Rings as three separate books in 2012 so it's even! Artist and Illustrator, A Reader's Companion, and Tolkien and the Great War were the best of the bunch this year. On a related note, I've been participating quite a bit in the Desolation of Smaug thread in the Tolkien group on Goodreads (I 'accidentally' wrote a 2 000 word post on my thoughts about the movie). This year I will aim for 10 books again, with the intention of perhaps tackling the HoME as related to LotR, The Silmarillion and more scholarly books.

Best reads of 2013: Nothing as spectacular as in 2012, I think (no new all-time faves), but some really really good ones include The Good Father by Noah Hawley, Building Imaginary Worlds by Mark J.P. Wolf, The Ocean at the End of Lane by Neil Gaiman (oops, this is definitely a new all-time favourite, haha). Good ones include Ireland by Frank Delaney (I read a handful of general/local Irish books over the summer), A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, and A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty.

This is the bit where I usually write about my goals for the upcoming year. I don't know how I feel about goals. They don't really make any difference in my life (this I am realising after four years of blogging about yearly goals!!). I need to dig a bit deeper and figure out how I might be able to make the changes I want to make but can't be motivated to do so. I think the biggest struggle is that I'm very okay with my life right now. I don't have to change anything and I will still be healthy, happy and comfortable. I know, intellectually, that I will be even healthier, happier and more comfortable if I pursue some of the changes I want to make. But how do I enact those changes? I've decided to try out charlieissocoollike's (Charlie McDonnell) trick of not breaking the chain (designed by Karen Kavett). I've printed off one calendar for writing and one for meditating/maintaining daily morning routine. This could be the sort of simple thing that keeps me motivated. After years of ambitions that fail after just a few months, I like to think I'm finally at the end of my rope and I can kick those failures back this year. I'll be graduating university this year, ready to start my own life in the big world. I think that'll be a major factor in how I go about making these changes. Another difficulty is how I don't have a consistent lifestyle throughout the year (i.e. I'll go travelling for three months in the middle). I need to figure out how to adapt the changes to my lifestyle changes...Well, enough about the challenges of change. Here's what I'd like to this year (note the similarities to previous years):
  • Read 75 books (including more non-fiction, books I own but haven't read, books released in 2013 and 2014, books that have been on the TBR for a long time)
  • Write for 20 minutes daily (ideally [a number of words], either fresh or rewritten)
  • Meditate daily (as part of morning/bedtime rituals - did this for a few months in 2011, never felt better, somehow could not convince myself to ever do it again, see above for possible reasoning)
  • Some smaller goals: Make family dinner once a week, vacuum once a week...maybe I'll think of more later
I also don't know how I feel about blogging anymore. I started using Tumblr and Goodreads in the fall of 2011 and while my use of these platforms didn't really harm my blogging habits any more than if I hadn't been using those platforms in 2012, I did migrate quite a bit more towards them in 2013. However, when I do post my thoughts on either of those websites, I really consider what I'm writing and I think because of this careful consideration my personal writing has improved over the past year. If you browse the 'my thoughts' tag on my Tumblr or my short reviews on Goodreads, you'll see I haven't stopped documenting my thoughts; I've just been shaping them into a form appropriate for a much different medium. I used to think if I ever started doing that  that it would be a bad thing, those bits of writing wouldn't be as valuable as if I had formed them into a fat, formatted blog post but I no longer think that way. So, my dilemma now is how to proceed. Do I let this blog fall to wayside or do I revive it? If I do revive it, I think it will need to be in a different form that what I've been doing the past few years. It's not longer sustainable or unfortunately that interesting or valuable for me. I'm not sure I even want to document my writing anymore - I can use track changes in Word when it really matters and I don't want to talk about writing anymore, I want to do it. I think I've finally reached the end of my rope with my writing habits and

In conclusion: I don't know what's going to happen with this blog in 2014. I'm not making a TBR page or providing any semblance of a schedule. There are other things I want to give priority to in my life. Let's see where this leaves Falling Letters. This whole post may sound a bit dreary, but I'm actually feeling more optimistic than ever because I'm not giving myself false hope and I'm trying to consider my situation realistically, in order to make real changes. Here's to 2014!

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