Friday, January 4, 2013

Looking Back and Forward for the New Year


Happy New Year everybody! As is traditional at this stage of the year, I'm going to use this entry to look back on the past year and looking ahead to how I'm going to try and reboot my life this year.

2012, for me, was a year of big plans and great expectations which...kinda fell flat on their faces. I had hoped to have a job by the end of the year, and that just didn't happen. I had hoped to finish a novel that I felt confident enough in to submit for publication, but overall I haven't got a whole lot of writing done this year at all. On the roleplaying side of things, I planned to run a one-shot every month and attempted to run a mini-campaign over summer. The one-shots didn't happen every month because I couldn't get players for my games every month, and there wasn't always a venue for running the one-shots each month. The campaign got cancelled after about 2.1 scenarios because I had a breakdown during the start of the third scenario for a number of reasons I won't go into. I also didn't finish either the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge, or my 2012 A to Z Reading Challenge.

A lot of that is down to the fact that I had set myself goals which weren't realistic. Instead of setting myself the goal of 'Get a Job', I should have set myself a number of smaller goals that were more acheivable and would help me work towards finding a job.

I also realised that I don't yet have enough of any one plot idea fleshed out to make an entire novel out of, so I've come to realise that I need to develop my ideas a bit more (through outlining and shorter writing pieces) before I try and aim for a novel.

The one-shot a month goal wasn't unrealistic per se, I just didn't implement it very well; I needed to be more effective in securing players (and venues) for those one-shots, and I also needed to not pile a bunch of other RP projects on top of myself at the same time (I was toying with some campaign ideas while working on the one-shots as well).

And as for the reading challenges...the A to Z Reading Challenge was totally doable. The Goodreads Reading Challenge? Not so much, at least not with the goal I had set for myself: 70 books in a year. I told myself: 'If Stephen King can read about 70 to 75 books a year, then so can I!' FYI folks, it doesn't work that way. Everybody has their own reading speed. Stephen King is obviously some kind of speed reader. Me? I found that I need to take my reading at a slightly slower pace, otherwise I'm just not taking everything in and I'm not enjoying the story as much as I really ought to be.

That said, I'm now a year older and, I like to think, a little bit wiser. Both in terms of learning from my mistakes, and in terms of having acquired some new knowledge and experience. I'm almost finished my ECDL course, and I can now say with confidence that I know my way around Microsoft Office a lot better than I did a year ago. I could use OpenOffice fine, but employers really don't care about that as much as MS Office, apparently. I may not have written as much this year as I would have liked, but I have read a lot of good writer's advice books, and that should arm me with a greater selection of tools to help me work on improving my craft. I've run a few one-shots this year, at least, and each game I run continues to give me greater confidence as a GM. And I've learned that it's best to read at your own pace, rather than trying to make a race out of it. You should be reading a book to enjoy the story, or learn new things, not reading to say you've read it. That should go without saying, but apparently I forgot it this year thanks to the vast selection opened to me by my newly acquired Kindle.

So, with 2012 over and the world not having ended (again, I might add), it's time for me to look ahead to 2013 and think about what I want to achieve this year.

Obviously, I want to try and get a job. But I need to be smart about it this time, so I'm going to a) structure my jobsearch activities a bit better this year, b) continually reevaluate my transferable skills and update my CV once every fortnight, or at least once a month, c) not limit myself to trying to find full-time work straight out the gate, that's been a big problem for me is that I feel like part-time work just isn't enough. I've also started volunteer training with the Citizens Advice Bureau, which should be good experience for me, and it's another thing to keep me busy while I'm looking for work, in addition to my volunteer work with the Hospital Broadcasting Service and the ECDL course.

For my writing, I'm going to try smaller projects to start off with. I'm going to participate in weekly Flash Fiction challenges more regularly, and LitReactor has a sci-fi short fiction contest they're going to be running, so I'm gonna try and submit something for that. I'll give April's Script Frenzy and November's NaNoWriMo another go when the time comes, as I do every year. And I'll also work on fleshing out one or two of my long-term writing projects and getting an outline ready before I set myself to work on them. I kinda want to say I'll write and publish my Doctor Who/Evangelion fanfiction series this year, but that's still a secondary or tertiary priority, in relation to my own original fiction projects.

As for roleplaying, I'm working on organising a Run Club at GUGS, based on the idea proposed by Ben Robbins here. It's my hope that this will offer an opportunity for myself and other budding GMs to practice their skill at running games in a friendly and supportive environment, as well as offer an opportunity for people to play a variety of different games, and interact with players they don't normally game with. I still hope to run a one-shot per month, but I won't be treating as a definite 'must-do'. If I run games during my turn for Run Club, that'll be enough. I'm also hoping to run a Doctor Who campaign, either starting over the summer break, or when GUGS starts back for the 2013-2014 semester. There have been some requests for a Doctor Who campaign, and being the big Whovian geek that I am, and this being the year of Doctor Who's 50th anniversary, I thought I'd give it a shot.

I'm going to attempt the A-Z Reading Challenge again this year, and you can find my list so far on its page here on the blog. I may participate in the Goodreads challenge again, but I'll be setting a much more reasonable goal for myself this year. Somewhere between 25 and 50. I've shown that I can manage at least 50 in less than a year, but even 50 may be pushing the boundary between enjoyment and just ploughing through. In any case, whatever goal I set myself for Goodreads, I will not be taking it nearly as seriously as I did last year.

As far as any other goals go, I'm just going to take things as they come. I will aim not to pile on more and more expectations on myself as I go until I burn out like I did last year.

In short, this year I still have big plans I want to achieve, but I'm going to plan more realistically and take things one step at a time.

So, with all that in mind...

Alons-y!

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