2013! What a year! And I actually mean it.
Before sitting down to write this, I looked back at 2013 as quite a shitty year. I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to, the things I did accomplish were a little delayed, but then I stopped myself. Why focus on the negative? There’s no time, because I actually did accomplish some important goals in 2013.
I read 67 books.
You read that right: 67! My goal was 52, one for each week, and I’m quite impressed with myself.
It was a great mix of fiction and non-fiction, sci-fi and fantasy, indie and traditional, etc. Looking over the list I really see how diverse my tastes in literature are, and that makes me incredibly happy. Here are some of the highlights:
- Fidel Castro: My Life (A Spoken Autobiography) – Fidel Castro and Ignacio Ramonet (It’s great to read Castro’s uncensored thoughts and recollections on his life.)
- A Song of Ice and Fire (Books 1 to 3) – George R.R. Martin (These books are tomes, but they’re worth the read.)
- The Beam: The Complete First Season – Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant (A great concept and cast of characters that quickly pull you in and don’t let you go.)
- The Motorcycle Diaries – Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara (It’s easy to see how Che’s politics evolved on this trip, and his vivid descriptions make you feel like you’re there with him.)
- Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction – Jeff Vandermeer (I firmly believe that anyone who wants to write fiction must read this book. It’s brilliant.)
- And so many more!
It was really hard to pick the best, but those are five I really enjoyed. Unfortunately, I didn’t like these so much:
- The War of Art – Steven Pressfield (I actually quite liked the first two parts, but the last one totally threw me off. I might reread it in 2014 to see if I still feel the same way.)
- On the Road – Jack Kerouac (I really wanted to like this one, but it didn’t hold my interest.)
- Occupy – Noam Chomsky (Not that I don’t like Chomsky or the Occupy movement, but it’s just transcripts of talks and interviews. I was expecting something else.)
- The Satanic Bible – Anton Szandor Lavey (It was interesting, but the way of life it preaches is very unappealing, very individualistic. I felt it fit well with the values of capitalist society.)
I can’t say any of those were particularly bad books, but there was something about them that didn’t connect with me.
I’m planning to renew the challenge for 2014, and read another 52 books.
I achieved minimalism, maybe?
Starting in late 2012, and continuing through much of 2013 I completely decluttered my life. I had so much crap lying around and stored away, and I got rid of almost all of it. The only possessions I still have are a small box of books and a few other things at my mother’s house, and what fits in the backpack I’m carrying around the world.
The experience of getting rid of nearly everything I owned was incredible. Each time I got rid of more things I felt an additional weight being lifted off me, there was less holding me down and stopping me from setting off and achieving my goals. It felt really great, and I’d recommend everyone do it. Go through your shit, and get rid of most of it. You don’t need it.
I don’t have much, and I don’t feel a need for much. That counts as minimalism, yeah?
I finally started travelling the world.
There have been so many times I thought I was finally going to travel the world, then my plans were dashed for some reason or another. But this time, I finally did it. I worked for a year and saved some cash, decluttered my life (as I already mentioned), and took off to see the world.
So far I’ve visited Turkey, Iran, had a brief stop in Dubai, and I’m currently in Egypt (Cairo, to be exact). Ahead of me lies Tunisia, Morocco, and Europe, as long as my plans don’t change in the next couple weeks (which is totally possible).
I started writing again.
I had planned to write a lot more than I did, even to publish something, but the Resistance hit me hard (see, that’s one of the parts of The War of Art I did like.) While I didn’t quite hit my goal I still did do a lot of planning and a fair bit of actual writing. I hadn’t really been doing any before 2013, so that’s a small accomplishment, and I I do plan to kick it up in 2014.
Oh fuck. Here we go.
2013 is behind, 2014 is ahead. I’ve looked back, hopefully learned from the places I’ve stumbled in the past year, and will use them to do better and achieve more in 2014. I don’t like to set too many goals, and I won’t be doing that, but there are a few I’m committing to in 2014.
I will write 1000 words every day.
I’m actually dreading this one, but I know I have to do it. If I want to get anywhere as a writer, I have to break the Resistance and I’m hoping that by making writing a habit I can do that.
To add to this one, which I already see as quite ambitious, I will also publish one work of fiction by the end of the year. There will probably be some non-fiction in there as well, but I’m definitely committing to one piece of fiction so I don’t let it slip by into 2015 and beyond.
I’m nervous about this one, but I’m also really excited.
I will blog… often.
I’ve been wanting to start blogging for at least two years, but I’ve always let myself get bogged down in design details, and the name, and everything else. But now, on this blog, I’m just going to write, and if it evolves into something else I’ll change it, but I’m still going to keep writing. (I need to hit 1000 words/day after all, and some of that will be blog posts.)
I took a shot at blogging earlier this year for a little over a month, but I was really blogging in the dark, about things I was taking guesses at instead of really knowing what I was talking about. And I was blogging a lot about business, which I quickly found I didn’t enjoy. So, scratch that. This blog will be about me, my life, my thoughts, and the things I think people need to know. They’re important topics, believe me.
I will improve my rudimentary Spanish.
This is one of those goals I had for 2013 (and probably 2012) that I’ve been letting slip every year. I only know two languages, and I feel really embarrassed to say that. I’ve been learning Spanish on and off since high school (which was something like 6 or 7 years ago), and I really need to finally do it.
Why do I want to learn Spanish? Not only is it spoken by a huge number of people, but I’m incredibly interested in the political and social developments happening in Latin America and I want to be able to read those developments directly, instead of having to depend on English translations.
Plus, I need to learn another language. What a joke, only two languages!
I will probably go to New Zealand.
Ever since I saw The Lord of the Rings ten years ago I’ve wanted to visit
Middle Earth New Zealand. Since I’ve already started travelling, and the final The Hobbit movie premieres this fall, I figure I should probably make it there before then (and I’d avoid another Canadian winter).
This one isn’t set in stone, but I would really like to make it there this fall.
Who knows, I could be writing next year’s post from Hobbiton!
(Well, probably not Hobbiton, but somewhere in New Zealand.)
I will probably start a podcast.
Podcasts have really grown on me over the past year. I used to think they were quite useless, but now I have a number that I listen to religiously. As soon as I started listening to them, I knew I wanted to start my own.
I’m not sure exactly what the topic will be, or when I’ll be able to start it (probably not until late summer at the earliest), but I really want to start my own podcast, which I’m sure will be complementary to this blog.
And with that, have a great 2014!