Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Resolutions (aka NYRs)

This time every year, people start thinking about their New Year's Resolutions (aka NYRs).  Some seriously ponder the idea and try to come up with deep, introspective thoughts about how they can improve their personal well being, and others simple recycle the same old list from the previous year.  And a LOT of people fall off the wagon and give up before February 1 rolls around.

I believe that the typical understanding of NYRs have people predisposed to fail, since it's practically impossible to maintain a whole bunch of life changes simultaneously.  I take a different approach to NYRs - I look at them as goals to work on over the following year and accomplish by December 31 of the new year.  So instead of saying, "I'm going to eat healthy and work out 60 minutes every day," I could say, "I'm going to lose 60# by December 31."  Then I'd look at my end goal and break it down into more realistic, manageable chunks.  That way, if you fall off the wagon on February 1, no big deal - you can just get back on it the next day!

You can't handle EVERY NYR this way, but it certainly helps with some of them.

Like everyone else, I've been thinking about my NYRs.  Here are a few that I've come up with:
  1. Publish at least 52 blog posts by December 31, 2012 (that's at least 1/week).  I don't think that all (or even most) of these posts will be about writing, or books, or grad school.  I honestly don't think that process is interesting enough to write about that frequently, at least not to me.  And if I come up with more posts than that, then great - but I don't want to over-commit and predispose myself to failure.
  2. Finish the first draft of my novel.  Which novel, I didn't specify - I'm crafty that way.  I thought about saying, "Write every day," but again, I think that leaves me predestined to fail.
  3. Submit at least six different stories to twelve different journals.  I thought about saying, "Sell at least X stories," but again this might condemn me to failure, only because my success in that would depend on forces outside myself.  NYRs are about the self, not external validation.
  4. Be more punctual.  I'm always tardy, and that's disrespectful of other people in my life and makes me look unorganized.  This is the one item that can't be quantified as of December 31 - I'll just have to do better!
What NYRs do you have lined up for 2012?  For another interesting blog post on resolutions, see the Time Management Ninja.  I love his blog.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Beware The Hawk

No, not me ... I'm talking about my friend A.J. O'Connell, who I had the privilege of meeting at the 2011 AWP Conference.  She's not a hawk, and you don't have to be wary of her.  She's quite nice, actually.  She recently finished her MFA at Fairfield University, and she has an ebook coming out in January titled Beware the Hawk.  It's a novella about ... well, I can't describe it since I haven't read it yet, but she talks about it here.

I'm really excited for her and can't wait to read her book, and I hope that you will/are too!  You can learn more about A.J. by reading her blog, The Garrett, or following her Twitter feed, @ann_oconnell.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Book Review: The Last Town on Earth

The Last Town on Earth
Author: Thomas Mullen
Paperback: 432 pages
Published: July 31, 2007

The Last Town on Earth tells the story of a secluded mill town in the Pacific northwest, and the ensuing events when the town decides to quarantine itself against the Spanish flu pandemic of 1917-1918.  Mullen does a wonderful job of weaving the three archetypal conflicts: man vs. man, man vs. the machine (society), and man vs. nature.  He does so in an unexpected way, with a wide cast of well-developed characters.  The story initially revolves around Philip, the adopted son on the mill's owner, but it becomes quickly apparent that while he continues as the main protagonist, this is not just his story; the town is really the main character, and all the people that play a role here are the supporting cast.  Ultimately, Mullen does leave a few plot lines unresolved, but for the most part this is a finely written, engaging book.  I couldn't put it down.