I’m not a big one for setting new year’s resolutions, since that just seems like we are willfully setting ourselves up for failure. Nor am I a fan of the self-loathing and regret that goes along with the plan to improve ourselves in the new year.
Not even the timing appeals to me: it is an arbitrary line that marks the difference between the past and the future. In the same way that we weekly tell ourselves that we will get our acts together on Monday, so the new year is the ultimate of deadlines. We have been bad, but starting on 1 January, we will endeavour to be good. But, in truth, it is NEVER too late to change. Never to late to make the small adjustment that you want to see in your life. So I won’t wait for that special place in time, that line that separates the old from the new and improved.
And mark I say ‘endeavour’ because the goals that most people set themselves are just plain unattainable, and if the previous year has been any indication, we are sure to fail yet again. So most years I just gently coast from one year into the next, thinking that, no matter what, I’ll at least try my best to be my best. Whatever that may entail.
Yet, this year, I find that I do have some…let’s call them CHANGES, that I would like to see in my life. These aren’t big and unattainable, nor are they geared towards making me a better person. Or a thinner person, as is so often the trend. Instead they are slight adjustments, a small tightening of the corset to gather all the loose ends of my life together into an altogether much more pleasing whole.
So timing, self-loathing, and new year’s resolutions be damned. On this day, 2 January 2016, a nondescript Saturday morning, I resolve, with immediate effect, to try and apply the following changes to my life:
1. I want to manage my time better.
Okay, this is a toughie, as it is actually the one thing that every other change springs from or is geared towards achieving. I have certain goals that I want to achieve in a wide variety of interests, and the truth is that, if I don’t improve my time management, I won’t be able to get to everything. One change I have already made is to delete The Sims FreePlay from my tablet and the Facebook app from my phone. Getting rid of the Sims was easy: I was already waaay over it and just needed to pocket my sentimentality and get rid of it. Facebook was harder. I enjoy Facebook. Not necessarily the people/friends aspect, but the group aspect. There are many websites and common interest groups that I enjoy keeping abreast of, and Facebook just makes it so easy by gathering everything helpfully on my wall. But in the end I can spend up to two hours an evening reading every article from io9 or I Fucking Love Science, or jumping into the fray over at the NaNoWriMo group. Now, these examples often offer very interesting insights into this word we’re living in, but it is two hours I could have spent on something else.
So, starting right now, I will Facebook less. If I need to know something I can Google it. And if another Dressgate happens, I’m sure someone will tell me.
2. I want to write more. Or at all.
See? This is where the time management comes in. With everything else going on in my life, sitting down and entering the right mind space to be able to write a book is hard. This is mostly my own fault for not managing my time better and allowing myself to get out of practice. In 2010 I wrote my first draft and spent 6 months writing a little bit each and every day. It was a habit that I had formed, and found that, once trained, my mind very easily slipped into the right frame for writing. But then editing and more editing and writing courses and beta reading came along, and during the course of the past five years I have learned how to rewrite and forgotten how to write. This seems like an easy fix. All I have to do is write a little bit every day. Even if it’s just a page. Even if it’s just a blog post or a journal entry. I have gotten myself involved in a little endeavour called #JanNan2016 and firmly believe that if I can write a bit every day for the month of January I will start to slip into a habit that will become easier and easier with time.
So, starting right now, I will write more, and I will do it every (ish) day.
3. Speaking of writing, I want to get Spadille (working title. . .) published.
It’s been six years of writing, rewriting, and teaching myself how to write (that has been the hardest part, but SO worth it) and I finally found that I am done. DONE. Every time I finished a rewrite on Spadille I used to tell myself that that was the last one, only to rest for three months and fall right back into the fray. But, by August 2015, I had finished a rewrite and knew, finally, and with extreme relief, that I was done. I was finally happy. It was only then that I realised I had given up hope of that every happening. I am currently applying edits from my beta readers, but after that, hopefully by the end of January, I will start the search for an agent and send this baby off into the world.
So, starting right now, I will work hard towards getting Spadille published.
4. I want to blog more.
Both for publicity and the healing effects of journaling, I think it would be a constructive exercise to blog more. Say, one post a week. Right now I have many running jokes on my blog, like the Daily Fail that only happens about once a month, and Corset of the Month that happened exactly twice over 36 months. And it’s not as if I don’t have the material for it. In my life there is sure to be fail daily.
So, starting right now, I will blog a bit more.
5. I want to read 50 books in 2016.
In 2015 I took up the Goodreads Reading Challenge to read 30 books. In the end I finished ahead of schedule and upped my challenge to 40 books. The great thing about the challenge is that you can move the goal post at any time, so there’s no failing and self-loathing involved. Just a fun, loosely-defined attempt to read a bit more. So this year I have upped it to 50 books. This is a bit ambitious, but as a wannabe writer it is extremely important for me to read as much as I can, as it serves as research and education on top of any entertainment and enjoyment I can get from it. (Books are friggin’ awesome, aren’t they?) I also intend on reading through the Lucifer series and some short stories, so that should make it easier to attain the 50 books goal.
So, starting right now, I will read (even) more.
6. I want to save some money.
This is a problem, as item 5 above definitely encroaches on this one. There is some math that I am too scared to do, but I’m fairly certain that I spend a prodigious amount of money on books, be it audiobooks (which are damned expensive), comics and graphic novels (that have to be ordered from the UK, because South Africa is lame in that regard) or general impulse buying at the mall. I see this as a noble cause, and I am NOT about to start pirating books, so I doubt that I will be cutting costs by restricting my book-buying. That, however, means that I will have to snip somewhere else. Not sure where or how, but maybe a good place to start would be to keep a spending diary and creating a budget. I’m not bad with money, but I want to go travel again and do some home improvements, and that all costs a bit extra.
So, starting right now, I will start paying attention to how I spend my money.
7. I want to improve at my horn playing.
This been has been lagging, but 2015 hasn’t entirely been a bust. I spent the first six months or so repositioning my embouchure, switching over to playing mostly on the B flat side, which has made a significant improvement in tuning. It was a hard journey that often seemed hopeless, but eventually I made it through and then…just stagnated. The last half of 2015 saw me treading water. I didn’t improve, wasn’t motivated to practice, and delivered an absolutely awful performance at my end of year exam. I think part of it was that I was overambitious in choosing my pieces, and was then too unmotivated to do them any justice. The lucky thing here is that there is a loophole one can slip through: the more you practice, the better you get. That first part is a no-brainer, yes, but what follows is even better: The better you get the more you want to practice. Which boils down to: the more you practice, the more you want to practice. Aaaand Bob’s your uncle. The trick is just to get started…
So, starting right now, I will play a bit more horn, even if it is just a few minutes every day.
Things that might be conspicuous in their absence:
1. Losing weight
Yes, I have gained a lot of weight over this holiday, but whatevs. As soon as I start going to the gym again (which I enjoy and don’t need to be cajoled or guilt-tripped into) and eating healthy again (which is a lifestyle choice I apply to parts of the year that aren’t the holiday season) I will lose the vacay fat and start to shape up again. No need for body issues, self-hatred or tear-stained before selfies in a grimy bathroom mirror. Life is good. Respect your body. We’re all going to be fine.
2. Making corsets
This is a funtivity that will have to sidle in when I have time. But it is not the goal of 2016. Maybe another time. Maybe for a specific project. But right now I need to prioritise and corsets are resting on the backburner.