Thursday, January 2, 2014

Looking to 2014

I never quite understand people's resistance to setting goals at the beginning of a new year. I understand many people fail at these goals or resolutions, but setting them can't hurt. If you never challenge yourself, you often stay in the exact same place. All the negativity around resolutions often highlights how lazy so many people truly are.

I'm a goal-oriented person. I'm always looking for the next step or way to improve my future. I want to achieve a lot in this life and that means keeping myself on track. This makes me extremely hard on myself and causes some of my anxiety issues, but it is also responsible for many of my life changes and accomplishments. For example, I wouldn't be here in New York, if hadn't made it a goal and worked for it.

Like any year, 2014 will bring with it many changes, challenges, and surprises. It will also bring my second book, A History of the Unmarried, which will be released in September from Sibling Rivalry Press. As I think about the year to come, I want to make the most of it.

Here are my six 2014 goals: 

Goal 1: Read 52 books. I'm setting another reading goal this year, and I'm upping my goal to a book a week (52 in total). This past year I read 63, so there's a good chance I will exceed the number once again. You can always follow what I'm reading on Good Reads.

Goal 2: Write a poem a week. I have a new journal and my goal is to use it to write weekly poems. My expectation is not that these will be polished and ready to publish poems, but that I'll be focusing some energy each week on drafting a new piece. This year I don't have a specific book project I'm working on, so this will be a way to help generate new ideas and new work.

Goal 3: Write five creative-nonfiction memoir pieces. This past year I got back into essay writing and published my first memoir piece in The Rumpus in July. I want to continue working on memoir/narrative pieces and submitting them for publication.

Goal 4: Attend more theater events. I'm near the beginning of my second year of living in New York City. I've done a lot of exploring, but I'd love to see more shows (on and off Broadway). Over my holiday break I saw Ethan Hawke in Macbeth at Lincoln Center, and it was a great experience. With a little research and effort, you can find a lot of good deals on tickets. Lincoln Center does discount tickets for anyone 21 to 35, which I didn't know until recently. I hope to take more time out (and money) for the theater in 2014.

Goal 5: Get my job/money situation in a better place. I can't be too specific here because I don't have an exact plan, but finding a more steady job would be great or at least more freelance opportunities. My "day job" feels like one of the last pieces of the puzzle. I love where I'm living. My writing career is going well. I'm in a good relationship. But I need a way to make money, and it would be great if it was something I liked doing. I know I can't adjunct long term, so here's to another year of trying. 

Goal 6: Take what I learned from book one and apply it to promoting book two. My second book will be published in September, and I want to work hard to promote it. I learned quite a few lessons from my experience with my first book. I learned many people will say they will write reviews (and even get free copies), but then won't follow through. I learned that you have to be bit aggressive sometimes and put yourself out there to get readings and interviews, etc. For awhile I thought people who did readings all the time got asked to them, but then I realized a lot of them are doing those readings because they contacted someone. I didn't take any class on promoting a book, and there isn't just one approach. I'm thankful to have a press that helps as much as possible, but I also know it's partly up to me. My first book sold very well and was critically recognized, so I have high hopes for book two.

-Stephen (Happy New Year)