|Field next to my house, taken July '11.|
July. Half way through 2012, and so a good opportunity to take stock, think about how things are going, progress, lack of progress, direction, and possibility of re-direction.
I've been thinking a lot this week about where I'm heading both short term and long term, and I have one particular resolution on my mind that has been an epic failure. The novel. My novel. Re-writing it hasn't even began. Why? That's the question, a question that I answered to myself whilst writing Thursday's post on inclinations, challenges, and obligations. I was inclined to re-write it, though I framed it as a challenge. The inclination was lost, and so I didn't write anything. That is the honest answer. I didn't challange myself, and that's a shame because it would be a good thing to do. I can't offer any good excuses like I'm frightened I'll fail, or I'm frightened it will be dreadful. It, the first draft, already is dreadful, so what do I do with it? I don't have to do this but I want to. Honestly? I want to do it but I don't know how to do it, and the fact that I'm questioning how to write shows very clearly (as I am writing this, I have the ability to write) that I have been unwilling to put the work in. I want to write a novel. There's my inclination. It's there. So I need to challenge myself. That is how to write it. I'm making it a big deal, and I suppose it is a big deal, but asking how to do it, finding the right time to do it - that's where I'm failing. I know how to do it, and I can't find a right time because there rarely is a right time. That part isn't the hard part. I haven't challenged myself in any way. And I've asked myself a lot this week: what exactly do I want to do? I have one answer: I want to do it. So do it. I wonder how many words I should aim for but I don't know, but then, who is going to hold me to a word count? I want an aim, so ok, let's say... 85 000 words by the 31st December. If I come out with 60 000 words I'm proud of, then I have achieved what I wanted to achieve, same with 100 000. If it's incomplete by December but I've worked on it the way I ought to, then I've achieved what I want to achieve. So there it is, there is the goal. I want to re-write my novel so I will re-write my novel and I will aim for around 85 000 words. For now, say two hours a day, five days a week at an absolute minimum. No doing four hours in one day to have three days break, either. It's a challenge, so commit to the challenge, o.
That's the worst part of this post over! You can tell it's a great source of irritation. It's not good to be irritated at yourself, and I have every reason to be irritated. I don't want to be the person who loves challenges unless they are challenging.
So what else? Well, my 2012 Reading Challenges page makes this easy: overall, I'm over half way through, and for most individual challenges I'm over half way through as well. I finished War and Peace, Ted Hughes, and Les Misérables, and I am left with the following:
- Aristotle - The Ethics of Aristotle
- Augustine, St. - Confessions
- de Balzac, Honoré - Cousin Bette
- Brontë, Emily - Wuthering Heights
- de Cervates, Miguel - Don Quixote
- de Quincey - Confessions of an English Opium Eater
- Defoe, Daniel - Robinson Crusoe
- Defore, Daniel - Moll Flanders
- Dostoevsky, Fyodor - The Brothers Karamazov
- Dostoevsky, Fyodor - The Idiot
- Dumas, Alexandre - Count of Monte Cristo
- Dumas, Alexandre - The Three Musketeers
- Elliot, George - The Mill on the Floss
- Euripides - Medea and Other Plays
- Freud, Sigmund - The Interpretation of Dreams
- Hardy, Thomas - Far From The Madding Crowd
- Hawthore, Nathaniel - The Scarlet Letter
- James, M. R. - Collected Ghost Stories
- Lawrence, D. H. - Women in Love
- Mansfield, Katherine - Selected Stories
- McCourt, Frank - Angela's Ashes
- Murdoch, Iris - The Sea, The Sea
- Pasternak, Boris - Dr. Zhivago
- Plato, The Republic
- Proust, Marcel - Swann's Way
- Radcliffe, Ann - The Mysteries of Uldolpho
- Richardson, Samuel - Pamela
- Rousseau, Jean-Jacques - The Confessions
- Virgil - Aeneid
- Wharton, Edith - The House of Mirth
I've got some good titles left! As for my own challenges (the ones I made up, I mean), they're all going well. I can't see why I wouldn't finish Dickens by the end of October, and I hope the 100 Greatest and Ought to Have Read Pile will be finished before Spring 2013, at least that is my goal. As for the Bible, I'm at a funny old stage: I have sixteen books left, and the majority of these books are very short, however the two books (Jeremiah and Ezekiel) I'm about to approach are possibly the longest. Once I've finished those, I'll see that the end is near, however I feel I'm still struggling uphill! A tentative goal for September, I think. The Penguin Greats: there is a challenge. I am committed to it, and aim to finish by December 2012, a lot later than planned, but realistic and still challenging. And finally, The Canterbury Tales - I haven't read any of it this month because I have absolutely thrown myself into Allie's Victorian Celebration: aside from Ulysses (I suppose I ought to give myself a pat on the back for Ulysses!), every single book has been related to the Victorian era (as you can see from my 2012 Books list). I have no definite goals as to when I want to finish because I have enjoyed writing about Tales, and that is quite time-consuming. I'd be happy if they went right through 2013, so there's no rush. That said, I'm eager to pick them back up and will do so this month.
And what of my other New Year's Resolutions? I made many, however fortunately I picked out the serious ones in April so I'm able to simply cut and paste and write a few words on each:
- Learn Ancient Greek. Or at least try. I'm doing better, but I need to commit to doing it more frequently. I aim for half an hour a day. not much, but I'm not a scholar and this is simply for pleasure so I don't feel the need to be aiming for any more.
- Read 101 books. I've read 96 so far, and I've upped my goal to 150.
- Get up at a reasonable hour. Go to bed at a reasonable hour. Stop defining reasonable hours as 11am rise and 3am sleep. Much better: usually asleep by 1am, up at 9am.
- Start wearing nice clothes again and make an effort to look good. Stop pretending I have to be clinically underweight to deserve to wear pretty clothes and make up. Generally getting better, as well. I do make more effort when I need to, so yes, this is good.
- Complete my book challenges. As I said, I'm over half way through.
- Aim for three or four blog posts a week. I still post around three times a week.
- Exercise every other day, but not too much exercise. I've not been doing so well this past few months, a mixture of minor injuries and illness, but getting back on track.
- Start writing a few more book reviews. Improving, I feel.
- Start reading more non-fiction. I read more than I did, which isn't hard because I never used to read any!
- Be a healthy person. I know what it entails, I don't need obsess over it. Not been under 1000 calories since middle of March. I'm still not the healthiest and up my calories in stupid ways (God bless peanut butter), but, you know, progress is progress!
- Re-write my novel and make it into something I'm proud of. Covered that.
- Don't delete blogs. No wish to.
- Open my letters instead of filing them in the "hell will freeze over before I can deal with yet more financial doom" drawer. Whilst I do open them, I do lose them. So I should file stuff more.
- Do things when I can do them, even if I can't complete the task, rather than wait for an appropriate time. I do.
- Stop drinking Coca Cola and accept it gives me migraines. I have.
- Finish Villette for once and for all. I did!
- Read more poetry. I am. I don't sit and read whole volumes, but I'm picking up anthologies and reading the odd one or two much much more than I ever did.
- Start doing yoga again. I am.
- Stop drinking so much Irn Bru. I did.
- Run a 7 minute mile. Still trying!
It's good to look back at my goals like this, because I certainly am making progress in some important areas. As for the other resolutions, the less serious ones... Well, I have stopped cleaning the bath whilst I'm in it (that was gross), but I did just rub my eye half way through writing this and I was wearing mascara (I still am wearing mascara, I suppose, but now I'm wearing it on my finger and cheek)!
So, then. I'm glad I did that. I might be fretting over the non-novel, but progress is being made and I'm really happy about that. And isn't it good to be a blogger, to look back and see this? I think so.
What next, then? Well, I'm continuing with the Victorian Celebration with absolute relish, however I need to step back ever so slightly and read the other books I've been wanting to read (particularly The Knight's Tale, I can't wait to read that!). I'm loosely aiming for one or two books a week from each decade, and from now until next Sunday I'm on the 1860s. I read Alice in Wonderland this afternoon and will finish Through the Looking Glass tonight or tomorrow (re-reads), and I have The Mill on the Floss out and ready to read, and am also considering either The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins or Lorna Doone by R. D. Blackmore, however I'll see how it goes. Oh, and 'The Goblin Market' - I'll be reading that, as well. For the 1870s, I'll be reading The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, and will decide in a few weeks what I want to read for the 1880s, and 1890s-1901 (though I think I'll be picking up Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov for the 1880s and Freud's Interpretation of Dreams for the 1890s).
Also, and I'm really excited about this one: I've signed up for 'Puttin' the Blog in Balrog' - reading The Lord of the Rings in July and August. I needed this, this is my incentive! It's on my Greatest Books list, and is one of the ones I'm least enthusiastic about (the other being the His Dark Materials trilogy). So, from Wednesday (4th) to the following Wednesday (the 11th) I'll be reading the first book of Fellowship of the Ring.
Finally, I need to work on the Penguin Greats, so by the end of July I'd like to have read four, and be up to number 18 in the list.
As for the rest of the year, yes, I have plans! I think as this has been such a long post, and I've covered what I want to do in July, I'll save them 'til closer to the time. A teaser, though: October is packed, and somewhere between August and December I will most definitely be starting Boswell's The Life of Samuel Johnson!
So, there is the half way post! More writing, more Greek, more reading. I do aim to do at least two hours a day working on re-writing my novel, and 30 minutes of Greek. But, even though I haven't been as conscientious as I ought to have been in the first half of 2012, things have still gone well. I hope the same goes for everyone reading this :)