Reading in 2018

In the past, I’ve sat down the first week of the year, looked over how many books I read the year before, and made a guess for how many books I thought I could read in the year ahead. Typically, that meant adding ten to the previous year’s goal. Each year, I met (or exceeded) my goal, each year adding more books.

Not this year.

The tipping point was in trying to hit my goal for 2017 (spoiler: I did). One of the last books I read in 2017 was Sanderson’s new book, a 1200+ page book. That’s when it struck me how arbitrary it was to try and read a number of books. Why make reading a competition? Committing to a number of books only makes sense if everything you read is roughly the same length. But if you read three books that are around 300 pages, and one book at 1300 pages, is it any wonder it took you longer to read four books? To some extent, the frame of mind of reaching a goal skews how and what you read. You could stop reading that book that failed to catch your interests after the first 100 pages…but if you just power your way through it, at least you can count it on your list (doesn’t actually happen that often, but often enough). So I made a decision.

2018, then, will be a year of reading for the fun of reading.

My first reading goal for 2018 is independent of the number of books, but instead based on the types of books I want to read. I’d like this year to be a fair mix of books feeding both my imagination and my general knowledge. I’ve done this in the past to some success, and I’d like 2018 to be a year dedicated to it: for every fiction book I read, I plan to read a nonfiction book. The nonfiction doesn’t have to be a history book, or a science book; the only qualification is that it has to be nonfiction.

My second reading goal of 2018 is for the fiction books, I’d like to take a good stab at reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. Years and years ago, I read the first book, and tried to read a few of the follow up books. I was lost, confused, nothing made sense, and there were no wikis or guides at the time to help make sense of things. Something’s changed since then, though. This last month, I reread the first book, Gardens of the Moon, and it all just clicked. I got it, it all made sense,  I understood it.  Next on my fiction list is book two.

My third reading goal is to enjoy it.

In fact, I have a list already forming of the books I’d like to read in the coming months. This list doesn’t stretch far, and leaves a lot of room for additions, but it’s a stab at some books I’d like to read.

  • The Witch of Lime Street (nf) – Houdini, Doyle, and Spritualism
  • Deadhouse Gates (f) – Malazan
  • The Professor and the Madman (nf) – The story of the OED
  • Memories of Ice (f) – Malazan
  • Killing the Flower Moon (nf) – Forming of the FBI
  • The Gathering Storm (nf) – Churchill’s first volume on WW2

At an average of a week or two per book (roughly), that should last me into February. I read 51 books in 2017. Who cares how many I read in 2018?

 

The state of the writer at the close of 2017

This post is about writing in 2017. I want to make that clear, because writing aside, 2017 was a pretty great year for me. The family prospered, we’re happy, well taken care of, and all in all in a good place right now.

But for writing, 2017 sucked in many, many ways.

I had high hopes for the year. In 2016, I played with self publishing a novel, and for what I put into it, had some pretty good returns. Such is hubris. In 2017, I put a book out that I thought was good; it was copyedited, it was cleaned, it was a story I enjoyed telling. I lined up advertising, promoted the book, etc.

It flopped, and it was pretty disheartening. Since that release, it’s been a real struggle to be motivated. We all know the stories of so-and-so who was met with repeated failures before they succeeded. It takes perseverance to keep going, and in 2017 I learned that I might not have it. Or maybe I do? We’re three days into 2018, and I do have a project I’m working on. No point in saying more than that at this point, but I haven’t given up the ghost just yet.

On the short story front, not much to be said. A story I sold in 2016 saw print this year, but otherwise it’s been a string of rejections. This doesn’t surprise me too much – the short stories I was sending out were, for the most part, written years before. Since I started focussing on longer length fiction, I haven’t written much in the way of short stories. Even so, I currently have a story out there waiting on feedback. It’s a big market that takes a while to reject, so I’m not hopeful.

2017: not a great year of writing. Here’s looking to 2018 and the promise of getting some words down.