New Year’s Resolutions 2014 – An Update

These make my life, and keeping resolutions, so much easier.

These make my life, and keeping resolutions, so much easier. Image courtesy of: mannahealthgroup.com

Welp, now that we are just under three months away from the new year, I figured it was time for an update on my resolutions (I resolved to give updates every quarter….that didn’t work out). But, I am happy that I’ve made quite a bit of progress on a bunch of my resolutions:

1. Read 5 classic books
I’ve read one! I read The Hobbit via audiobook (my new obsession). Pride and Prejudice is next on the list, methinks.

2. Read 5 books I already own
Ugh, I hate that I haven’t even started this yet. Nearly every day, I stare at the books I already own (many of which are on a shelf right next to my bed) and think, “I should read one. Maybe poetry. That won’t take long!” And then I go into the living room and pick up one of the newer books I have rented from the library.

Any suggestions on how to break my apparent lack of motivation to read books I own?

3. Read 10 books on my Goodreads “To Read” list
This one’s done as of September! I’m really happy about this. I’m actually on to the twelfth book on my “To Read” list. Sure, this list has grown by over 100 books this year, but I’m going to savor this small victory ūüôā

4. Read and review the ARCs (both digital and hard copy) that I’ve received in the past two years
Much like my resolution to read books I own, I haven’t finished books that I’ve received as ARCs. I’ve started one and am really into it. I just need to pick it back up…

5. Read the four Gospels
This one is started. I’m five chapters into Matthew, Luke, and John. Just have to keep chugging!

6. Send chapbook out to at least five different contests
This one is done! I finished in May. I believe the number of contests I’ve submitted to is up to ten or more at this point. They’ve all been rejections thus far, but I’m not giving up. I even revamped my chapbook this year, so hopefully that will help.

7. Spruce up my full-length poetry manuscript to send out to at least two fall book contests
This is in the works. I want to submit to a full-length prize that has a deadline of November 1. Going to submit something to that contest come hell or high water!

8. Acquire a full-time teaching gig
This is out of my control. From now on, I won’t make resolutions similar to these. All I can do is control how much I apply. I have certainly applied for several positions, but no dice. Again, not giving up!

9. Work on a piece of art every other week
This has actually gone fairly well! I’ve tried daily painting, drawing, doodling, and collage challenges. All of these have taught me that I don’t do well with daily challenges. I’m learning to work a bit more with my natural flow of creativity, which comes in spurts. While it doesn’t come every day, inspiration definitely comes at least every other week‚ÄĒusually more so! I’ve been trying to document my creativity on Flickr by taking pictures of when I do something creative. I’m behind on posting pics for the summer, but what I have so far can be found in this online album.

10. Blog at least twice a week
Welp, clearly this hasn’t gone well. I’m re-evaluating what I want to do with my blog. I want to keep it. I always have ideas that I’m excited to share, but I don’t make it a priority to sit down and write. Perhaps I should make a pledge to post once a week or twice every other week. I really don’t want to, but I’m not sure how else to stick with a posting schedule.

Bloggers, any ideas on how to stick to a semi-regular posting schedule?

11. Pay off one of my two major credit cards
This is also in the works. As I mentioned in my previous resolution post, I took out a low-interest loan and am slowly but surely paying it back. I think I’m going to count this as a win, even if I did “cheat” a bit on the paying off part.

If you have made some resolutions, how are they going?

If you’d like to keep up with my goal progress apart from my quarterly blog updates, check this page out. I update it when I’m making progress with my goals (particularly the reading ones).

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2014 Resolutions Update

Now that we’re a little more than a quarter of the way through the year, I figured it was time for an update on my 2014 resolutions. I’m kicking butt in some areas and lagging in others, but I suppose that’s to be expected. I’m not being as hard on myself as I was last year, which certainly helps. I mean, I’ve got a year…it’s natural for my focus on certain things to ebb and flow.

Anyhoo, here’s the update:

1. Read 5 classic books
Have not started this one yet. I have read Steinbeck’s “The Pearl” this year, but I didn’t put it on my classic book list. Le sigh…

2. Read 5 books I already own
Haven’t started this one either….

3. Read 10 books on my Goodreads ‚ÄúTo Read‚ÄĚ list
140213_001…because I’m focusing on my Goodreads list! Two down, eight more to go! (In case you are curious, my Goodreads book reading goal this year is 50 books total. As of the time¬†of this post, I’m eight behind but am determined to catch up!)

  1. Damn You, Autocorrect!¬†‚Äď Jillian Madison (January 2014)
  2. Cinder РMarissa Meyer (January 2014)

4. Read and review the ARCs (both digital and hard copy) that I’ve received in the past two years
Haven’t started on this one either (wow, I’m really not doing to well with my reading goals. Now I know what to focus on in the next three months).

5. Read the four Gospels
Is it awful I forgot I made this resolution? (Sorry, God!). Once again, another resolution to really focus on in the next few months.

6. Send chapbook out to at least five different contests
I’ve actually been pretty good with this one. I’ve sent my chapbook out to two contests so far. Last weekend, I went to a chapbook workshop to get feedback on¬†my book from professionals. They gave me some really good advice. My hope is to tweak my chapbook in the next week or two and send it to a few more contests. I’ve got a list of about five or six more to send to, so that’s my creative project for the rest of the month.

7. Spruce up my full-length poetry manuscript to send out to at least two fall book contests
Even when I wrote this one down, I knew I wouldn’t get to it until the summer. By the time of my next update (late June/early July), I’m hoping to have at least started the sprucing up process.

8. Acquire a full-time teaching gig
I think this one is turning into the “publish a chapbook” goal from least year. By this I mean that I can’t possibly control whether I get a full-time teaching position or not. I can only apply and interview. I’m OK with this. I have been doing my part. I’ve applied to a few positions and have had one interview so far. I count that as a win.

My attempt at sketching a mug. I'm hoping to sketch a little bit every day.

My attempt at sketching a mug. I’m hoping to sketch a little bit every day for the rest of the year.

9. Work on a piece of art every other week
I’m also happy to say that I’ve been doing really well with this one also. Last year, I felt like I had to paint something on canvas, but I’ve broadened my idea of what “a piece of art” is. I’ve worked on videos, sketches, and poetry as well (I’ve even done some MS Paint drawing). I think broadening my definition of art has really helped me be consistent with this goal because I’m not limited to using one medium.

10. Blog at least twice a week
I’ve tried, I really have. Lately it’s been tough for me to post something that isn’t part of a series on my blog. The semester is almost at an end, so I’m going to try to get better with writing posts that are not parts of a series as well as scheduling posts. (I’m a little ahead of the game on this one. As of the time of this post, I’ve got three posts scheduled. Woot woot!)

11. Pay off one of my two major credit cards
I’ve technically accomplished this. By technically, I mean I took out a low-interest personal loan to pay off my two major credit cards. So, both of my accounts say nothing is owed, but I still owe the money. So…partial win? On the upside, I won’t owe nearly as much interest on the loan, so baying back this debt will be much easier and faster (hopefully!).

If you’d like to keep up with my goal progress apart from my quarterly blog updates, check this page out. I update it when I’m making progress with my goals¬†(particularly the¬†reading ones).

What resolutions are you working on? Which ones are you doing great with and which need a little more attention?

Looking Ahead: My 2014 New Year’s Resolutions

Fireworks

‘Tis a new year, hence new goals. ¬†As mentioned in my 2013 resolutions wrap-up post, last year’s goals, more than anything, served to show me what is really important in my life. As a result, I’ve tweaked the focus of my resolutions and broke them up into two categories: Reading Goals and Creative/Lifestyle Goals. Here’s hoping this new format keeps me focused this year.

Reading Goals

1. Read 5 classic books
I’ve recently realized that there are a lot of “classic” books that I was never assigned in high school or college. I’d like to catch up on reading I feel I’ve missed out on.

The cover of the first edition of Adventures o...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The term “classic” can mean many things, and there are tons of classic book lists out there (seriously, just google it). I’ve come up with my own list to pick from, which is sort of an amalgamation of those I found online:

A Tale of Two Cities РCharles Dickens
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn РMark Twain
Alice in Wonderland РLewis Carroll
Catch 22 РJoseph Heller
Catcher in the Rye РJ. D. Salinger
Diary of a Young Girl РAnne Frank
Dracula РBram Stoker
East of Eden РJohn Steinbeck
Fahrenheit 451 РRay Bradbury
My Antonia РWilla Cather
Picture of Dorian Gray РOscar Wilde
Pride and Prejudice РJane Austen
Robinson Crusoe РDaniel Defoe
Secret Garden РFrances Hodgson Burnett
Sherlock Holmes РSir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Call of the Wild РJack London
The Crucible РArthur Miller
The Good Earth РPearl S. Buck
The Grapes of Wrath РJohn Steinbeck
The Great Gatsby РF. Scott Fitzgerald
The Hobbit РJ. R. R. Tolkien
The Fellowship of the Ring РJ. R. R. Tolkien
The Two Towers РJ. R. R. Tolkien
The Return of the King РJ. R. R. Tolkien
The Invisible Man РRalph Ellison
The Old Man and the Sea РErnest Hemingway
The Sound and the Fury РWilliam Faulkner
The Three Musketeers РAlexandre Dumas
The Trial РFranz Kafka
Their Eyes Were Watching God РZora Neale Hurston
Uncle Tom’s Cabin¬†– Harriet Tubman
Wuthering Heights РEmily Bronte

2. Read 5 books I already own

I totally failed at this very achievable goal last year. As an attempt at redemption, I’m giving it another go this year. ¬†I posted all the books for this goal last year, so instead of posting them again, here’s a list of some books I added to my shelves in 2013:

Cover of "The Endarkenment (Pitt Poetry S...

Cover of The Endarkenment (Pitt Poetry Series)

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened РAllie Brosh
Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
Herland – Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Endarkenment РJeffrey McDaniel
We – Yevgeny Zamyatin

3. Read 10 books on my “To Read” list on Goodreads

This particular list has grown quite a bit in the last year. I have 450 books on my Goodreads “To Read” list. I came so close to finishing this goal last year so, much like the previous goal, I want to try it again.

4. Read and review the ARCs (both digital and hard copy) that I’ve received in the past two years

I keep requesting ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) of books, and publishing houses continue to graciously give me free copies. And I have yet to crack one open and review it. I’m actually pretty ashamed of this fact, so I want to play catch up by reading and reviewing all of the ARCs I’ve received since I first began requesting them two years ago.

Eve and Adam – Michael Grand and Katherine Applegate
Zealot – Reza Aslan
Trying to Be Cool – Leo Braudy
The Diviners – Libba Bray
Back to Christmas – Dennis Canfield
The Tragedy of Fidel Castro – Joao Cerqueira
Dukkha, the Suffering: An Eye for an Eye – Loren Christensen
Empty Mansions – Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.
Matters Familiar – E. G. Frabricant
Love & Math – Edward Frenkel
After Visiting Friends – Michael Hainey
Hunted – Elizabeth Heiter
The Psychology of Twilight – (Eds.) E. David Klonsky, Alexis Black, and Leah Wilson
The Devil You Know – K. H. Koehler
Defy – Sara B. Larson
I Love My Slow Cooker – Beverly leBlanc
Sugar Hill: Where the Sun Rose Over Harlem – Terry Baker Mulligan
Doing Harm – Kelly Parsons
Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey – (Ed.) Lori Perkins
The Last Stratiote – LeAnn Neal Reilly
Lost at Sea – Jon Ronson
With or Without You – Domenica Ruta
The Shadow Society – Marie Rutkoski
A Conspiracy of Alchemists – Liesel Schwarz
Love Water Memory – Jennie Shortridge
Hokey Pokey – Jerry Spinelli
Son of a Gun – Justin St. Germain
Growing in Wisdom and Love: Tibetan Buddhist Sources for Christian Meditation – Susan Stabile
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There – Catherynne M. Valente
You Got to be Kidding! – Joe Wenke

5. Read the four Gospels

I’m really bad at reading the Bible. This goal is my attempt to bring spirituality into my resolutions by incorporating something I already love to do: read. I think the Gospels are a good place to start since they are a manageable amount of content to cover in one year. Plus, I think the research nerd in me will love diving into lexicons and concordances in conjunction with the readings.

Creative/Lifestyle Goals

Line art representation of a Quill

Line art representation of a Quill (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

6. Spruce up my full-length poetry manuscript to send out to at least two fall book contests

The two years of my MFA led up to this manuscript, and I think it’s time I dusted it off and took it for a spin. I haven’t sent out my full-length collection since 2011 because I didn’t think it was ready. If I don’t work on it, the book never will be.

My writing has changed quite a bit since I graduated three years ago, and I’d like my collection to reflect that. I’m not looking for my book to be earth-shattering or print ready. I just want it to be a collection of poems I’m proud to put out into the world. I’m giving myself until the fall to send it out because that means I’ll have the summer to work on it. This time frame also gives me enough time to save up submission fee money.

Lastly, I didn’t want to overwhelm myself with contest entries, so I gave myself the very low-key goal of submitting to two fall book-length manuscript contests. The more concrete and realistic the goal, the more likely I am not to be overwhelmed.

7. Send my chapbook out to at least five contests

This is a tweaked goal from last year. I wanted to publish a chapbook last year, but then realized there’s no way I can predict that. I can make publishing a chapbook a goal for years and never cross it off because I can’t control whether my book gets picked up or not. However, I can control how much I submit the chapbook. As a result, I’m going to give myself a number and stick to it. ¬†This number, much like the previous goal, is very low-key and manageable. And, hey, if my chapbook gets picked up this year, even better!

8. Acquire a full-time teaching gig

This goal is a more “grownup,” practical one. I’d like a full-time job that allows me to be creative and have free time. Teaching is great for that. Last year, I sent out quite a few teaching applications. I hope to reap the fruits of these efforts this year.

9. Work on a piece of art every other week

 

English: Paint brushes Deutsch: Pinsel

English: Paint brushes Deutsch: Pinsel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This goal is another tweaked repeat of last year. I tried to work on art each week, which proved to be a bit too hard. Art is still very important to me, and I want to make time for it, so I’m setting a more realistic goal for myself. Hopefully, the amount of time I dedicate to art will increase as the year progresses and I learn to manage my time better.

Note: “Piece of art” here is defined in very broad terms. I’d like to work on a project related to the arts (poetry, painting, mixed media, jewelry, sewing, video, etc.) once a week.

10. Blog at least twice a week

I’ll do it this year, I really will! ¬†I know I may fall off the wagon a few times, but I hope to post twice a week more often than not.

11. Pay off one of my two major credit cards

Here’s another “grownup” goal. ¬†Being in less debt will make me happy, so I’m setting a goal for it, even though it isn’t as exciting as getting my hands dirty with paint or ink.

 

One thing I know I will constantly be reminding myself of in 2014 is that while goals are nice, the journey is just as important. I also tend to be super hard on myself sometimes. So, as I mentioned in my teaching post, I’ll also be practicing being kind to myself. Be kind to yourself too in 2014.

What’s one resolution you’re making in 2014?