And with this time of year, and my increasing frustration with feeling like I’m not performing as well as I want to at work, not mothering my children as well as I want to at home, and not fulfilling my creative needs ever, I’ve been thinking a little bit about goals.
I know, I know, talking about goals sounds kind of lame. So maybe we shouldn’t call them goals – basically, I’ve been trying to figure out how do I stop feeling like such a failure and start getting shit done. And what specific shit would I like to get done.
So, here are my steps to identify what shit I am going to push myself to accomplish in 2020:
Take a deep breath, and think about what areas of my life I want to see changes for in 2020. You can’t come up with goals if you don’t really know what you want. I already mentioned the areas of my life I want to see changes: employment, family/motherhood, and creative/writing.
Think through what, specifically, is causing unhappiness in these areas. You can’t come up with appropriate goals if you are not specific enough. From hereon out, I will solely be discussing my creative/writing goals, because, like, everyone hates their job and all mothers feel like most of their actions are just fodder for their child(ren)’s future therapy sessions. So hopefully, focusing on my goal that is more likely shared by you guys will make this post more interesting. If not, my bad, but, like – thanks for reading.
Think about the large long-term goal I want to achieve in 2020 (i.e., what do I want to brag about achieving). For me, I want to begin writing more. I’m not planning to write my novel this year, or get published, etc. I just want to formulate the habit of writing more frequently. (Maybe next year, I can focus on getting published, writing novel, etc.)
Think about an appropriate, achievable short-term goal I want to achieve throughout 2020 that will help me with my long-term goal. Note the use of the adjective achievable. There’s no point in setting a goal that sounds so difficult that it will feel infinitely easier to lie in bed and stare at the wall than even attempt them. Should your “shit-I’m-going-to-get-done” list push you? Absolutely. Should this list be so difficult that the likelihood you will achieve them is akin to winning the lottery? Probably not. At least, that doesn’t work for me. I want to write more – it would be nice to be writing daily, or almost daily by the end of the year. And I think the way to do that is to get more organized and focus on completing the stories that excite me in a more timely manner. To assist with this organizational need, I went to Barnes & Noble the other day and purchased a planner (thank you, 50% off on planners now that Xmas is over). My short-term goal is to write at least one short story each month. To do this, I am planning to write in the story I’m working on in my planner, and marking the dates that I write so I can force myself to visually see how far I am getting with this goal. Writing one short story each month will push me, and will help me to create that habit of writing nearly every day.
So that’s it! Obligatory New Year’s reflection on the shit I’m going to get done in 2020 accomplished. My other reflections on 2019 posts will probably wait until February through March, because everyone’s doing reflection posts, and so I think it would be boring to do it now. Also, there is other stuff I want to write about that excites me more, so I’m going to do that (assuming I can find time to write blog posts, since accountants are a smidge busy this time of year).
What about you guys? Have any goals in 2020? Share with me in the comments below! Remember, the more people you talk to about your goals, the more pressure you will induce in yourself to accomplish those goals.
With 2018 behind us, and resolutions shiny and new and still capable of being fulfilled before the next midnight party, I wanted to highlight the five-star books that I read in 2018. A common resolution is to read more, and in order to reach that goal, you need to set up a Goodreads account if you do not already have one (which has a function to set a reading goal for the year, and tracks the number of books read so long as you remember to input each one), and you need to have some good books to read. To assist with the latter, here are the books that I really liked that I read in 2018:
Slow Days, Fast Company: The World, the Flesh, and L.A.: Tales
Author: Eve Babitz
Genre: Literary Fiction
Deetz: Yes, I admit it. I tried Babitz because Belletrist picked her novel Sex and Rage as one of its’ monthly picks, and I have a bit of a girl-crush on Emma Roberts. Sex and Rage was perpetually checked out of the library, but Slow Days, Fast Company (“SDFC”) was on the shelf one day and I grabbed it. It was love at first read.
Babitz herself is a fascinating personage. A ’60s and ’70s L.A. It-Girl who once took a photo playing chess with Marcel Duchamp in the buff, she became a recluse after being in a car accident in ’97 that resulted in severe burns over a large part of her body. In addition to leading an interesting life, the short stories in SDFC prove that she had the literary talent to make reading her work an exercise that continues to be worthwhile. SDFC takes you to ’70s L.A. It makes you feel the magic and the scumminess and the fun and the craziness that Babitz lived. It made me want to visit L.A., and although I cannot currently afford a ticket to CA, these stories take me there figuratively via glorious, escapist read.
Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Deetz: Young love in Paris… doesn’t it sound wonderful? Well… Perkins writes a realistic novel about privileged, white teen Anna Oliphant, who is devastated to be uprooted from her home in Atlanta, Georgia, her senior year of high school to attend boarding school in Paris, France.
Yes, going to Paris sounds like a dream for a lot of us – but Anna doesn’t speak any French, and was looking forward to one more year with the friends and family with whom she had grown up for one more year before the natural separations of college occurred, anyway. Anna is also a teenager upon whom this school was foisted by her father, a bestselling novelist who is super flaky and who has separated from her mother.
If you are not dead-set against reading YA, and you have not read it yet, you should read this novel — the characters are realistic, the romance is both believable and swoon-worthy, and the setting is fantastic.
Author: Libba Bray
Deetz: The beginning of a series, The Diviners is told from the various viewpoints of young people around New York City with various divination abilities. This first novel primarily follows Evie O’Neill, an adorable aspiring flapper who is exiled to NYC after wreaking havoc at a party in her small hometown through use of her ability to know things about people that have not been verbally disclosed. Since she is supposed to remain on the down-low, she decides to investigate a series of murders the police have requested her uncle’s help on, because fuck safety and common sense, I guess.
Evie’s a bit ridiculous, but she’s also plucky and fun. The serial killer is legitimately terrifying, in that shit-I-better-watch-some-Disney-princess-movies-or-leave-the-lights-on-when-I-sleep way. And in addition to being a good individual read, Bray is obviously setting up a series that could continue to be great (the other books in the series are on my TBR list, but I do plan to continue reading the series, which I rarely do anymore).
Author: Sarah Dessen
Deetz: Sydney has always felt invisible, in comparison to her older brother, the charismatic bundle of trouble who goes a little too far one night and irrevocably alters his life and the lives of those who are close to him. Peyton’s incarceration does not lessen this trait; if anything, it enhances it, to the point that Sydney feels unsafe but cannot find a way to express her feelings in a way that will be heard.
Also, there’s pizza and romance sprinkled in.
Dessen has a way of writing realistic teenagers that is thoroughly enjoyable, and this novel is one of her best (or at least one of my favorites).
Author: Stephen King
Deetz: Stephen King gets a lot of shit, and a lot of people seem to think liking his work is akin to eating toenails — but I think those people are wrong. Whether you like his work or not, King knows how to write. His plots are sometimes absolutely fucking crazy (a car that comes to life?!), but surprisingly, the stories manage to work. His characters are so real, you have to double check that the chill running down your spine isn’t because they have sprung out of the book and are breathing down the back of your neck. But the best part are the small details that are embedded in his writing, that really drive home the setting. For example, I realized that the 21-year-old drinking age was relatively new from reading The Dead Zone. I generally like King’s work, and Misery is one of my favorites.
Bestselling author Paul Sheldon has just completed his best novel yet, and is returning from his self-imposed isolation in Colorado in a snow-storm while drinking champagne straight from the bottle. When this ill-advised celebratory behavior results in a horrific car accident, Mr. Sheldon finds himself waking in the bed of his #1 fan, who has saved his life. For now, at least…
If you have not read this novel yet, I think you should.
My Lovely Wife
Author: Samantha Downing
Deetz: A marriage begins with young love and the belief, or at least, the hope, that this love is strong enough to keep the two birds together for the long haul. However, time passes, and routines emerge, along with the possibility that those beautiful feelings will begin to fade and potentially even disappear.
How do you keep the spark alive?
For this couple, the answer is murder. Told from the point of view of the husband, this novel is full of some fairly predictable twists and turns (although there was one twist I expected that never materialized…), but still manages to be a helluva ride. Who cares if the ending is predictable when it’s so much fun getting there?
Author: Dave Eggers
Deetz: Imagine you got your dream job… only to realize that your dream job may be stripping everyone, including you, of your fundamental rights? This novel grapples with ye olde internet, and the transparency that social media allows, and sometimes enforces. I really enjoyed this novel, which is one of the crrepier ones I read this year.
*cough cough* Also, don’t judge it by the atrocity of a movie they adapted from it featuring Emma Watson. *cough cough*
Beginnings, Middles, and Ends
Author: Nancy Kress
Deetz: This book is not for everyone. But if you are a writer, and ever get stuck while writing or editing a story, this book is a great reference. Broken out into three sections, this book delves into what makes a good beginning, middle, and end. It also, perhaps more importantly, suggests concrete approaches to take to make these sections work better. I read this book cover-to-cover, as more of an educational exercise, but the sections are broken out in an easy format that would allow a writer to double check a specific section or attack a specific issue with ease.
Breakfast of Champions
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Genre: Literary Fiction
Deetz: My first Vonnegut, this book cleverly satirizes American culture. I devoured this novel, like a tasty piece of pizza after a particularly fun bout of drinking. The writing is clever, yet simple. Vonnegut even includes illustrations. The book seems designed to appear easy – it is easy to read, and appears that it must have flown from Vonnegut’s pen effortlessly. The reality is that it takes a lot of talent and finesse to create something that appears to effortless. But regardless of whether or not you want to take the time to appreciate Vonnegut’s talent, it is a great read that you will enjoy either way.
Do you have a great read that is not listed above that can be kept in mind for those of us looking for what to read next?