Monday, January 05, 2009

All Goaled Out

Goodness, it's only the 5th today and already I am feeling quite overwhelmed by the huge amount of goal setting stuff that's being put up on the net via blogs and newsletters. And I freely admit to adding to it recently! I like Kristi Holl's idea of deciding what I WON'T do this year, simply because sometimes the hardest part of achieving your goals is saying No to the things that eat up your time. But I guess when I think about it, I can't imagine not having goals written down for the year. It's become a habit, and one that does work for me if I take it step by step.

So, having done all the right things - written down my goals, reviewed my year, organised myself around some upcoming deadlines - what is there left to do? Read, read, read, read, read! I've been to the library, the bookshop, the second-hand bookshop, borrowed from friends, and started tackling my lovely big pile of books midway through December. I was swallowed up by Ken Follett's World Without End for more than a week (it was over 700 pages), and after that, other books struggled to keep up the same level of depth and interest. But I persevered.

My recent reading list includes:
Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins (middle grade, Newbery book) - interesting to read something that has several viewpoint characters and no real driving central plot. It did hold my interest, mainly because the characters were engaging, and I was interested in their journeys.

The Killing Hour by Lisa Gardner (crime, adult) - Gardner has got to be one of my current favourites, simply because of her characters and complexity of plots. Very little that is predictable here. I wish I hadn't read everything else by her already. Sigh.

Dirty Little Lies by Stuart Macken (crime, adult) - someone I'd never read before (the joy of second-hand - trying out new authors for a cheaper price). Good plotting, a different take on investigation with gene crimes twisted and turned, and even though I guessed the villain, the final scenes were still exciting. Good research that doesn't get boring.**

Mistik Lake by Martha Brooks (YA) - years ago I heard this author speak, and read her novel Bone Dance. This new novel is excellent - lots of layers in the plot and great character development.

White Hot by Sandra Brown (crime, adult) - OK, I guess. It has that core romance element (I hate you, I hate you, OK, I can't keep my hands off you, guess what, I love you) that I find pretty boring, but it was an average kind of read. A library book.

Memories Are Made of This by Swan Adamson - I read this because a couple of writers I know are writing for Little Black Dress (the publisher). So this was intended to be an information excursion - what kind of book do they publish? what should writers be trying to achieve? I expected a boring sort of chicklit/feisty romance thing, but it was good! Again, the background stuff was intriguing. Life in the world of magazine publishing. And a heroine who didn't just fall in love and out again and then get her guy. Nice.

Blood Dreams by Kay Hooper - can I comment on this if I couldn't finish it? Of course. I gave up around page 60. The premise (psychics working secretly for the FBI) was a tad far-fetched, but I could've run with it if it had been backed up with great characters and lots of solid detail. Nup. I would say 70% of the novel is dialogue, which really boils down to a lot of the story being told through characters talking to each other, and telling each other stuff. Boring. No engagement here because I really got very little sense of who the characters really were. But if nothing else, this is worth analysing with students. They might think differently!

This is about three weeks worth. I read fast. I do read literary fiction too, although crime is my first love - I have started Mr Pip by Lloyd Jones, and have Annie Proulx and Charles Frazier on my pile. Will there be enough reading hours in January to finish them all? And watch Series 2 of Rome and The Wire? Of course!

** A recent review criticised Patricia Cornwell's new novel Scarpetta for having too much technical autopsy stuff in it. Um... isn't that why she's got so many fans? The depth of detail makes the novels real. That's what setting and detail are all about!


Anonymous said...

What a reading achievement! Well done!
I think Kristie's idea of listing what you WON'T do next year is great. I can make the list but whether or not I can follow it through is another matter. Oops! Sounds as if I'm beaten already.
At least making the list highlights the awareness of the problems. Surely it all helps. (That's a statement not a plea.)

Tracey said...

Yes, like Lorraine I like the idea of thinking of what I'm not going to do! Ah, sometimes I think it would be so much easier if I didn't have to work. (No doubt for all of us.) But the truth is I love my teaching too -- and the trick is not to let it consume my writing life, which it has a tendency to do.

I got the Follett book for Christmas. (I love it when you buy your own presents! I say to my husband: "This is what you've bought me." And I get exactly what I want.) So, I'm looking forward to getting into that one, though I'm going to read some fantasy first.

Sherryl said...

I am coming to the point where I think making decisions about what you are NOT going to do is as important as what you will do.
It's all about time. Those 24 hours in the day. And I do believe all the studies that say sleep is vital. I can tell when I haven't slept well (because of another person usually) and it affects everything - concentration, energy, enthusiasm.

Unknown said...

Hi Sherryl
My new years resolution is to try and finish my juniior fic book, while working full time and looking after three kids too. Plus doing a required cert 3 for work. A question for you.
I know you tutor at uni/TAFE, are you doing any online novel 2 or novel 3 or junior fic?????????
regards Carmel

Sherryl said...

Carmel - we have a few online subjects. Sounds like you might be interested in Fiction Elements (although this is introductory, not second year) and Writing Chapter Books (Semester 2, 09). Writing Picture Books runs Semester 1.
Our website is at - and there should be a link to online subjects.

Kristi Holl said...

Now that I've made that great NOT To Do list, I am faced with the follow-through this week. Several email requests await a response, and I'm struggling with saying "no, I can't." None of the requests would take more than a couple hours to do probably, but added up, it's at least one full day of work (for free), one full day that I can't work on my own work. Stay tuned!
Kristi Holl
Writer's First Aid blog