2017: Goals for the Year of Kindness

I got a little lost in the final half of 2016. It was a strange six months and once my 22nd birthday came around on December 14th, I felt like I had switched not from one age to another but from one skin to another. One world to another. It’s been painful and joyous, cautious and impulsive. I don’t know where I am, or where to go, but I’m mapping this new landscape with a fervent curiosity. And I remembered this, and I remembered what I wanted it to be, and I’ve decided this blog can claim an island on my new world as long as it stays fruitful.

I need 2017 to be more than a number. I need it to be the year I come unstuck, find a little drive. I need it to be the year I discover the full meaning of kindness, to myself and others. Kindness is the word of 2017.

Also, I need it to be bookish, and writerly. Mine is a soul wrapped in words. Words keep me safe, keep the light shining, keep me alive. In 2016 I took a writing class, wrote here and there, took up poetry a little towards the end. I read some books, stopped tracking my reading, bought more poetry and more diverse tomes. 2016 was OK to my soul. My soul deserves more than that.

So, goals.

  • Writing #1: I don’t want to pin myself down with rigid goals like “write every day” or “write 3 times per week on these days at these times” but I’d like to experiment with levels of discipline and freedom, see what works for me. I’m starting by asking myself to sit and try to write (anything) for 20 minutes whenever I have a big chunk of free time.
  • Writing #2: Find a writing group or partner. Community, and maybe a little competition, has proven itself to be so motivating for me if everyone commits to it. Writing doesn’t have to be a solitary act all of the time.
  • Writing #3: 3 finished projects: 1 poetry collection (40-60 poems), 1 zine (may or may not sell copies), 1 novella or novel. A year is a long time. Even accomplishing one of these would be a huge step forward, but I decided to be bold.

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  • Reading #1: Get down to zero unread books. I’m throwing away all of my unread books except signed, gifted, series (that I want to continue with) or anything else that I really am excited to read. That should leave me with a manageable number. I’m so excited to have no unread books and for book-shopping to be a necessary and guilt-free thing again.
  • Reading #2: Share great books, stories & poetry. I never wanted this to be a review blog and I still don’t think I’ll head that way in the usual sense. But I would like to talk about the books, short stories & poems I think deserve more attention, in an unrated and thoughtful way. (Not that the usual type of reviews are bad – they’re just not what I like to write.)
  • Reading #3: Participate in a lot of things. Read-a-thons, read-a-longs, some buddy reads with friends. I’d like to add a little community to my reading life as well. Solitary reading is beautiful, but community reading is fun, and I want to find the right balance.

I also want to see more friends, spend money on experiences rather than things, and keep blogging here and on tumblr. Feel free to comment with your goals for 2017!

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#24in48 & the Joy of Immersion

Last weekend I read for 15 hours and 48 minutes.789 pages. Two whole books and 250 pages combined between another two.

I signed up for the 24in48 Readathon at the last minute, part desire to get out of reading a book a fortnight, part distraction from my upcoming travel plans and general uncertainty. It was great. I was elated, I was tired, I developed a splitting headache at one point. I’d forgotten the joy of being drunk and then hungover on stories.

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The four books I read during the readathon, plus a certain reading buddy.

Each rare period of immersion I go through reminds me of a handful of moments, vivid in my memory only because I did one thing, so intensely and for hours without stopping.

I remember reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, aged nine at most, tucked in a small, hard bed in a static caravan. I was on holiday with my gran, the nights were cold, our caravan that trip was in a deep ditch, which I exaggerate in my memory as a crater. I finished the book at 6am and staggered to my gran’s room, lying that I’d been trying but unable to sleep the whole night. I slept in her bed until 2pm the next afternoon. To this day, it’s the only time I’ve stayed up all night reading.

I remember staying up all night to finish a meticulous collage for art homework. I fell asleep in the next day’s maths lesson and the homework hadn’t been worth the effort at all. I remember the 8 hours every Sunday for a year I practised dancing, throwing flags, running gracefully. I remember the one night I stayed awake talking, kissing, learning what it is to be lost in another person.

I remember the year I won National Novel Writing Month, having given up in the second week. In the last two days of the November I wrote 24,000 words. I stopped only for the bathroom, a wash and to run my hands in ice cold water, holding off the pain for another sprint. I ate at my computer. I lost track of plot and skill, running on twitter dares. I don’t remember the characters or scenes. But I remember the friends and strangers cheering me on, the euphoria when I reached fifty thousand words with precious minutes to spare.

I remember, immersed in reading or writing or people, my own potential. My own capacity to surprise myself, to dedicate myself. I remember why I love the things I love.

I think I’ll take part in the next one.