I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I’ve never been that type of person. This year, instead, I challenged myself to a few goals.
The first is to read 65 books. At the time, it seemed a reasonable goal. I love to read, and I read as much as I can. So really, how hard could it be to read 5.5 books a month?
Well, harder than I imagined. It’s almost the end of January and I’ve only finished five titles. Less than one month in and I’m already lagging behind. Of course, I could cram in a short read tomorrow and still meet my monthly goal, but that seems sneaky and a bit compulsive, doesn’t it?
Hopefully I’ll catch up in February.
Another challenge is to spend less time on social media. Yes, yes, I know: Social media is critical for an author’s success, blah, blah, blah.
Yet, it’s also a huge time suck. Spending a couple of hours on Facebook or Twitter, linking to this and that and, OMG, I just have to read that, does nothing to help me to finish my next novel. In fact, it leaves me feeling so rushed, stressed and anxious that it’s difficult to settle back down and focus on my writing.
I’m not advocating that any of us turn away from social media. It’s a valuable tool. It connects us to others. It forges bonds and friendships. I’ve met some fantastic people via my online life, people who have enriched and expanded my outlook in diverse and wonderful ways.
But it’s too easy to use social media as a crutch, and an excuse. It’s easier to read about someone else’s writing struggles than to sit down, face the unknown and struggle yourself.
So I’m vowing to spend less time online and more time reading. And writing. So far, I’ve discovered a few great books that touched me deep inside, moved me to tears and made me want to be a better writer.
Ask Him Why, by Catherine Ryan Hyde
The Foretelling, by Alice Hoffman (So odd, and so good)
Help for the Haunted, by John Searles
Girl Runner, by Carrie Snyder (OMG, fantastic)
The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver (love)
What I’m reading now:
Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater
The Love of a Good Woman, by Alice Munro
**Special note: Check out Kevin Brennan’s in-depth and ambitious blog series “Gatecrash,” detailing the role of literary fiction and creativity in self-publishing trends. Read the first part here.