Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Back and forth

In many ways, 2012 was a pretty damn good year. My naturally cynical mindset doesn't want to outright admit this, though, so when I first sat down to write about my 2013 resolutions I spent too much amount of time focusing on the fact I had only managed to fulfil half my resolutions for 2012.

At the beginning of last year the goals I set for myself were to read at least 12 books, write one book, get a full-time job, and visit Scotland. The first two goals I managed, the other two not so much. I read a little more than 20 books (I am presently halfway through Bill Bryson's At Home), with my favourites being Peter Carey's Parrot and Olivier in America, Leif Enger's So Brave, Young, and Handsome (thank you to whomever it was that made that suggestion), Andrew Miller's Pure and John Jeremiah Sullivan's Pulphead. The latter I recommend especially. JS Sullivan's style is close to the sort of thing I'm trying to develop in my own writing and I really enjoyed it.

As far as my own writing was concerned, I finished work on Tales of a Toffee-Covered Llama, a narrative nonfiction piece that I feel is the best thing I've written so far. It is presently in the hands of a literary agent in Los Angeles, so I'm afraid I can't make any predictions about when it will be published (though I am proud enough of it to promise it will see the light of day in some form or another, even if I have to release it as an e-book).

The full-time job, though, never happened. Those of you who really have your fingers on the pulse of current events may have heard that the economy is poopy just about everywhere in the world, which has a negative effect on the job market. That is especially true in this little corner of the Soggy Nations, where the economy hasn't really boomed since the Victorian age. But I did manage to find a part-time job that I love –– so much so that I almost don't care about failing to hold this particular resolution.

Indeed, the only reason I would want a full-time job is for the sake of money. Lack of that all-important commodity was at the heart of my abandoned ambitions to visit Scotland. But, hope springs eternal, so I will put it again at the top of my list for 2013. Because I seem to be fond of listing things by eights, here are eight things I hope to accomplish in the new year:

–– Visit Scotland ––
This may or may not be achievable. The coming year looks to be particularly demanding in a financial sense, because Jenn and I are getting married in July. But there is talk of a group of us taking a holiday in Scotland. There is also talk of the same group doing the National Three Peaks Challenge, which would result in my spending a very small amount of time in Scotland but enough to say I had been there.

–– Read 20 books ––
I managed this amount in 2012, I don't see why I can't do it again. I've never been a particularly strong reader, but I am working on it, yo.

–– Write at least one book ––
I'm hoping a good deal of my creative energy will be spent getting Tales of a Toffee-Covered Llama ready for print, but I'm keen, too, to be able to look back on the year with a sense of also having created something. I have two books in my head; I plan to start work on something the first week of January.

–– Get a motorcycle ––
This is the most challenging one because Jenn sees it as folly. But I am obsessed. Obsessed, y'all. Obsessed. I have sworn to give up drinking in an attempt to free up a bit of money for the sake of this dream. Part and parcel of getting a motorcycle, of course, will be getting properly licensed in the UK. In an attempt to mollify Jenn's opposition I will first ensure that I finally have my full UK driver's license.

–– Run a marathon ––
Jenn and I plan to run the Belfast Marathon in May. I may also run the Wales Marathon the week before we get married. Add the Three Peaks Challenge and this could be an active year for yours truly.

–– Take Spanish courses ––
Yo quiero aprender el español. I have a pretty strong foundation, having taken beginner Spanish any number of times. In my first year at Cardiff University I took Spanish and performed astonishingly well, but then allowed myself to get bogged down in the challenges of trying to perfect my Welsh. I'm not planning on running off to some Spanish-speaking country in hopes of finally gaining acceptance, but I do want to get fluent because it's a beautiful sounding language, it's rather influential in the United States, and it's a language that's spoken in a lot of places I want to visit.

–– Take Jenn to Texas ––
I feel I've sold my home state poorly. I think Jenn pictures it as a hot, miserable place full of hyper-conservative nutjobs. And certainly there's some truth in that image. But it's also an incredibly beautiful place whose residents are very friendly and easygoing. It's a place that I love and I want her to be able to see what I value about it. Equally, I am keen to show her Minnesota in summer, so she'll understand why I sometimes get so debilitatingly homesick.

–– Develop a more positive attitude ––
I'm a grumpy dude, bitches. Partially because I am lonely in Britain, partially because I am not as successful a writer as I want to be, partially because I have not had a full-time job in six years, and partially because I'm simply getting older, I have been growing ever more cynical and unhappy. I don't enjoy it. I'm not sure what to do about it, but I know I don't want to be this way. I'm hoping some of the things above will help me accomplish this.


Huw said...

Hi Chris,
Happy new Year!!!!

Debbie said...

Sounds like its is going to be a GREAT year x