Saturday, 5 January 2019

The Lupine Book Club 2018 Roundup

Well, we’ve come to the start of 2019, which seems totally insane to me. Where did last year go? Christmas and New Year’s Eve were both good, and probably the ones I’ve enjoyed the most in quite a number of years. I worked in retail for many years, so I still get seasonal dread accompanying this time of year, but it’s finally beginning to fade as the years go by. I hope you enjoyed yours, too – or if you don’t celebrate, that you had a good time nonetheless.

In last year’s roundup, I mentioned it was the first time in a while that I had really begun to feel like myself again. That continued this year, but there were still big chunks of 2018 where I felt I was pretty much operating on autopilot – get up, go to work, go home, sleep, repeat. Things were busy, busier than I would have liked at quite a lot of points.

In practical terms, this meant I read hardly any books, only made it to the movies a handful of times, listened to an absolute bare minimum of new music and didn’t watch too many new TV series. Someone I follow on Twitter mentioned that they’d finished around 150 books this year, which is absolutely staggering to me. 

You would have also noticed that blog has been pretty quiet the last few months – but don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about it. Just the overall busyness contributing to the autopilot factor, I guess.  And to be fair to myself, most of this was down to simple logistics; for the first half of the year I was devoting pretty much every waking moment to Lost Tunnels, while the second half saw me starting at a new job. Both of these are time-consuming enterprises, and that means other stuff has to get left out by necessity.

I should add that I had a pretty positive year on the whole. My book, Lost Tunnels, came out – please buy and read it if you haven’t already – and I’ve really been enjoying my new day job too. And I did watch a bunch of wrestling and listen to a ton of podcasts, I guess. 

So while I’ve never been a big one for New Year’s resolutions, as 2019 kicks off I find myself reflecting on some of the things I can do better over the coming 12 months. So here we go – if you’ve got any of your own, feel free to share them in the comments below. 

1. Get better with time management

Really, this is the font from which everything flows. I wrote an article earlier this year about writing, and I mentioned that time management is an important part of ensuring you find time to write. But you’ll notice I also said I’m a natural procrastinator, and unfortunately that hasn’t changed either. So I’m trying to make a conscious effort to be more judicious in my use of social media in particular. It will never cease to amaze me how much time I can waste on it.  

2. Get into better shape

As I mentioned above, one of the things I have spent quite a bit of time doing this year is watching wrestling. Your own feelings on that will vary wildly, but I know that for me it’s been a bit of a wake-up call to start taking better care of my health. I’m now in my thirties, and accordingly there’s been a natural slowdown of metabolism – but it’s not all down to that, and I know there are some lifestyle things that I need to take control of more effectively. I’m overweight and that’s not going to change without a concerted effort on my part. So 2019 is the year for change!  

3. More targeted collecting

The problem with being a collector is that it’s very easy to buy something without necessarily thinking about how that thing will fit in with your collection, or even within your house. I’m sure many of you can relate.

For example, in spite of not actually reading all that many, I did buy a ton of books in 2018. Now to be fair, I give a lot of books away once I’ve read them – they won’t be taking up space forever. But for the meantime, there are quite a few just lurking there both on my bookshelf and on my psyche.

In practical terms, this year I definitely plan to take a longer, harder look at things I plan to buy before actually pulling the trigger. And probably cull a bunch of stuff I simply don’t need. I don’t really buy into the minimalism trend, but there is something to be said for doing a bit of a spring clean every now and then.

4. More targeted writing goals

One of my highlights at the end of last year was that I’d finished the first draft of my horror novella, Lost Tunnels. Well, I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I self-published it in June of this year. And if you haven’t already given it a read, you really should! Inspired by my old hometown and Lovecraftian weird fiction, my sister called it “nightmare fuel” which is one of the highest compliments I could have asked for. You can find it here for Kindle.

But where to now? Obviously I want to do another one. But what will it be? That’s a big question, one that I’m still nutting out. I'll keep things updated on here as I know more. 

In 2018 I wrote some stuff that I was really proud of, particularly over at We Are the Mutants – I hope you enjoyed it too. There are plans for more into the future. But I also spent a lot of hours working on stuff that felt like, and probably was, a waste of time and energy. Believe it or not, I frequently get people asking me to write things for them, and I try to be very selective when saying “yes”. It’s easy to underestimate just how long things can take to produce, and the temptation for greater exposure is often very hard to say no to.

There was one site I stopped writing for in 2018. I don’t want to trash it at all, because it’s a good site and the people who run it are nice and very professional. But the work I was doing simply wasn’t translating into additional attention for me or my work, which was a stated part of my goal in doing it in the first place. It would be a very valuable opportunity for others looking to build a portfolio when they’re starting out – but given that writing is already my day job and I have this blog, it simply wasn’t delivering what I’d been hoping it would. It was time to cut the cord. If you’re a writer starting out, don’t be afraid to do the same if you feel that the working relationship isn’t mutually beneficial.

Well, that’s it for me. Hopefully you found something useful in there for yourself, too. As always, keep your eye on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date on what’s happening with me and the Lupine Book Club.