2017: Goals and Small Steps

2017: Goals and Small Steps

I’m not a big one for New Year’s Resolutions. I think it’s partly because I’m always more depressed in winter, and usually ill as well, so I don’t have the energy to commit to stuff, but it’s partly that January never feels as much like a new start as September / the start of the academic year does. After all, I’m still stressing about the same essays and deadlines, so nothing has really changed. It’s easier to resolve to have better habits when there are genuine external changes, like there are at the start of a new academic year. 

And I am stressing. I have two weeks to write a first draft of my dissertation, to write my French coursework essay, and to do some translation for Old Irish — and I’m ill. This time it’s a nasty cold that’s teaming up with my neck issues to screw up my ears so that my balance and inner ear are totally messed up and standing up makes me so dizzy I’m scared of passing out and breaking my nose again. 

Plus I stopped taking my anti-depressants and the withdrawal isn’t helping. I did it as carefully as possible, gradually reducing my dose and all that, but it’s never a fun experience to come off medication. Frankly, it wasn’t a fun experience being on them, either, which is why I stopped. There’s something about having a resting heart rate of 112bpm that makes you think maybe these side effects aren’t worth the negligible effect they’re having on the issues they were actually prescribed for. 

Anyway. Point is, resolutions are not exactly my thing. I try and make changes at the new year — a few years back I came out on New Year’s Day, for example, which feels way longer ago than it actually was. But it’s not the best time of year for me and that’s been true every year since… I don’t know, maybe 2011? Illness gets in the way a lot. 

I’m starting this year from a very anxious position, mostly hoping the world doesn’t blow itself up in 2017 and reflecting on how terrible I feel at the thought of going back to Cambridge (not exactly an advert for the uni life). I try and come up with goals and aspirations, but as I mentioned in my last post, that’s easier said than done.

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far, though, that isn’t just ‘survive‘:

  1. I set myself a goal of 100 books for the Goodreads Reading Challenge. I did this last year and read 328, so it’s a bit arbitrary, but depending on health, reading is either hard or it’s all I do, so it’s worth setting myself a goal. 
  2. I started writing a new novel on New Year’s Eve that I hope I can finish before too long. I considered aiming to write every day until it’s done, but I’ve already failed at that by feeling too ill to be upright over the last couple of days, so I guess I’ll have to be more reasonable. Plus, I do have a lot of uni work to finish which sort of has to take precedence. 
  3. It would be good to actually finish second year this time. Originally I should have been graduating this summer but taking time out last year put paid to that, and while frankly I don’t feel even slightly better equipped to deal with the ridiculous Cambridge workload than I did a year ago, the thought of taking any longer about it (or giving up, when I’ve already spent this much time and energy trying) makes me feel even worse. So. Let’s hope this is the year I actually complete second year and start third, because I need this uni thing to be over already. 
  4. I’d like to blog more regularly in 2017, and hopefully improve my blog’s stats in the process. Last year, December was my second best month for views, after March (which was uncharacteristically popular for some reason). But I think that’s because Vikings started airing again and so a lot of people stumbled on that one post I wrote back in series two or whenever — it’s been read a lot the last couple of weeks. I should start writing about TV shows again; it’s a shame I’m always several months behind due to not having a TV license when I’m at uni. Sort of limits my ability to be topical. 
  5. I also want to maintain my book blog, and I’ve made some progress towards that by scheduling reviews for every Monday-Wednesday-Friday throughout January. Before I go back to uni I hope I can schedule them for February as well, or at least some of it, so that I don’t have to worry about it during term time.

I think that’s as far as I’ve got with goals, and aside from uni, they’re mostly more focused on the near future than the year as a whole. With luck, that’ll make them easier to achieve. 

And I’m no longer bothering to aim for things outside my control, like ‘find an agent’ or whatever. There’s no point. There are too many factors that have nothing to do with me or my actions, and I know that; I think this is where I went wrong in previous years. Smaller steps, like ‘actually query a novel for once’, make more sense.

For now, though, my goals are even smaller and focused on things like being able to climb the stairs without nearly fainting, or sit upright without feeling nauseous and dizzy. We’ll see how that goes. Maybe once this bout of illness passes I’ll feel able to be more positive and optimistic about what I can achieve. That’d be nice. 

How about you guys? Any resolutions or goals for the new year, or are you like me in finding them difficult? 

4 thoughts on “2017: Goals and Small Steps

  1. Nice set of resolutions you have there! I’ve only got one practical one: write every day. I may be a glacier, but if I keep moving consistently, I’ll get somewhere eventually, right?

    I re-instated the oyster line as my first act of 2017 writing. Off to a good start, I hope.

  2. Have you ever thought about just going ahead and self-publishing your stuff. You write a ton, right? Tradpub is a pain in the arse, and the success rate is ridiculously low. Even if some big publisher did pick you up, you’d have to mostly do your own marketing anyway. If you can find a market, and I think you probably can, you might think about going the Kindle Direct path.

    1. I’ve thought about it, but I don’t think it’s the path for me, especially with my YA fiction. (Which, as a genre, still depends more on paper books and wide distribution than a lot of others.) I self published three poetry collections because it seemed like the most sensible plan, as there’s no chance of taking a trad route as a newbie poet, and those are still available, but for fiction I don’t think it’s for me. Not least because I haven’t got any money for upfront costs like editors and cover designers and so wouldn’t be able to make it a quality product.

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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