Ugh. It is indeed that time again, WriteByNighters, when some of us feel compelled to form goals for the new year. “This is the year I’ll write that novel,” we say. “This year, I will read at least one work of classic literature per month. I will write daily in my journal, and I will forgo TV and read the Paris Review and the New Yorker instead. I will, I will, I will.”
I vowed to read 80 books in 2013, and if I failed I would perform a public dramatic reading of Fifty Shades of Grey while wearing a hot-pink onesie—a cruel and unusual punishment y’all arrived at by consensus, and I do thank you for it. I polished off my 80th book the day after Christmas. (Sorry!)
But by the end of the year, reading had come to feel like a chore. Rather than read whatever the hell I wanted to, I had to consider each book from angles I’d never cared about before: page count, for instance. Density. Difficulty of prose. “Readability,” if you will. Often I discarded long books that looked interesting in favor of short books that looked (and proved) dull.
Meanwhile, my magazines and New York Reviews piled up, my favorite publications going unread because I’d become a servant to my 2013 resolution to … read more. By forcing myself to indulge in what has always been one of my favorite activities, I sucked much of the fun out of it.
The same can happen with writing, naturally. Some of you NaNoWriMo folks can attest to that.
I’m still working out whether or not I want to make any 2014 goals/resolutions. If I do, they will most certainly be less strict. Rather than “I will read 80 books,” I might say, “I will make a conscious effort to read more.” Or, “One day a week I will turn off the Internet/phone/TV and spend the day reading and writing.”
Or, “In 2014 I vow to read one book, and anything above that is just gravy.”
How about you fine folks? Any reading/writing resolutions for 2014?