Reaching the Goodreads Challenge

Like almost everyone I know that likes reading, I’ve been using Goodreads for a while now. Mostly I use it to keep track of books I want to read at some point in the future. However quickly my “read” (i.e. in the past tense) shelf grows, my “to read” shelf grows faster. I’m fine with that, as there are so many great books in the world and I would like to read as many as I can, while also making time to re-read those that really spoke to and/or entertained me.

For the past two years, I have also publicly set a reading goal for myself on the Goodreads site. The only way I know to access it is to go to the main page and scroll down. It’ll be somewhere in the right sidebar. If you’re also an avid reader, you likely know what I’m talking about. Initially, I started doing this yearly reading challenge to get back into reading more. I’d been spending too much time with Netflix and not enough with the written word. Goodreads helped me fix that.

I’ve just met my 2014 reading challenge by finishing 24 books. I have actually read more than this, technically. To some people that does not sound like a lot, but between work, social time, sleep, and my habit of often reading somewhat long or challenging books, it is a higher total than I’ve reached in a given year since graduating from college.

Next year, I’m not going to set a reading goal. Why? Because I’ve decided that I’m going to be focusing on writing. And this time, I’m not just going to say that I’m going to do more writing. I’m getting too old to let ideas percolate until I feel like I “have time” to sit down and write them. Life has resisted being anything resembling convenient or helpful, and I need to make time to write, starting as soon as possible, or give up on the idea of ever being published. Even if I end up self-publishing, it will never happen if I don’t actually do the writing.

I’ll still read, of course, but my focus will be on creating stories, honing some of them, taking active steps toward being a writer. I used to write and read all the time, when I was young. Growing up, adulthood, responsibility, self-doubt, and a bunch of other factors slowly drained that away from me, but I took back reading, and now I am going to take back writing. I want to learn how to love it again, the way I did when I was a kid and wanted to write all the time. Life was so much more fun then.

Advertisements

Five Things Friday: November 8, 2013

(I’m late! Oooo, I’m telling on you…) For personal reasons, this date is usually a day for memory. So this week, here are some thoughts from (or rather, about) my youth.

1) I regret being into pop music as a kid. I don’t hold myself fully responsible for my taste back then–the music you like, until you know better, is largely based on what you’re used to, and the influences of peers and radio were not easy to shake off then. Pop music is catchy, designed to please your brain in a certain way without paying any attention to whether the music is good. I admit I’ve always been a sucker for a more-or-less pleasant melody I can sing along to… but of course, that’s oversimplifying it. That’s not to say that ALL pop music is bad. Some of it I do enjoy now. I’m totally in love with Marina and the Diamonds, whom I only discovered recently. And sometimes I don’t even know how to categorize the music I listen to. “That’s pop? No, that can’t be pop, it’s good.” That’s usually how my brain works.

What it comes down to, though, is this: while I’ve always been good at singing and I found very basic music theory easy to understand, it took me a long time to actually be good at music–that is, to really hear it and be able to recognize whether a song is in fact good, or just catchy. Although I was one among many, I find it embarrassing that I spend my early years listening to boy bands and Britney Spears, instead of actually becoming familiar with Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Garbage, and Jeff Buckley.  And Brahms. Brahms is awesome: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1trE3ms3AGo.

2) Once, someone shared a secret with me and only a few minutes later I ended up telling the person it was about. I have no idea why I did that. But it’s just one of many, many times I’ve said something I shouldn’t have. I’m much better about that now, having learned that you can’t just tell anything to anyone at any time.

I have not gotten over saying stupid things, though. I do it frequently. And I often look back at things I’ve said and feel uncomfortable with how stupid it was.

3) I know a lot of people grow up and still like fast food, and continue to eat McDonald’s. I have slightly higher standards for my fast food now. I haven’t eaten at McDonald’s for at least three years now. But I remember how much I used to love it. My senior year of high school, or maybe my junior year, I spent so much of my time driving down the street and getting an order of chicken selects for dinner. I LOVED those things–I was never into the chicken nuggets so much, and at this point I probably couldn’t eat them without getting queasy, but the chicken selects were whole, white meat. That was my lifeblood. I still love chicken, but no longer go to McDonald’s.

4) I think I actually had a better attention span when I was a kid than I do now. That seems strange, doesn’t it? If I really try, I can focus on things, but most of the time I get too distracted, and I can’t really just do one thing. I find this frustrating and perhaps that’s why I’ve had a strange nostalgia for my teenage years lately–I knew what was happening, I didn’t have to pay bills, and I could actually sit down and read a damn book.

5) In the house we lived in when I was very little (the one that burned down shortly after I turned 8), my enormous bedroom had a walk-in closet. My brother’s room has this little secret room, a door that opened outward or upward or something, into a little private cave. I was jealous of this nook even though I had a nice big closet that was, at times, my cave. I can’t remember what was kept in this little secret room. Was there a chair? Were there pillows? Books? Stuffed animals? Was there a light? I don’t know. However, I do know one thing… I kind of wish I had one of those now.