Friday, December 28, 2012


by Scott Rhoades

It's my last post of the year, and I almost forgot to write it. In fact, I almost forgot it was even Friday. one of the great things about the holidays and working for a company that gives us the week from December 24 to January 2 off with pay is that, for a short time, the calendar barely matters. Truth is, right now, I don't really have any need to know what day it is. And I like it like that.

So, what I want to know is, do you make New Year's resolutions? I don't. Not really. But the change of the calendar (and several carefree days off) gives me time to reflect and, since I don't like to spend a lot of time looking backward, to think about some of the things I want to do next year.

In 2012, I set a couple of reading goals. One was to continue my three-to-four year plan of rereading John Steinbeck's novels and selected non-fiction in the order written, to study his development as a writer. I've read all but a couple of his books, but never in any particular order. I started this quest last year, after taking three years to read all of Shakespeare.

My other reading goal was to read at least ten frequently challenged books. I exceeded that one, and in the process read some truly great books that I had either avoided or had not gotten around to.

For 2013, I don't have any really specific reading goals, other than to continue my Steinbeck reading, but I'm formulating a mental plan that has to do with reading more award-winning authors, particularly Nobel prize winners. I haven't set a number yet. I'm thinking about adding the Newbery Award to this goal. I still have a few days to figure it out, and I can always modify the goal as the year moves on. I also want to read some of the longer books I've been avoiding because I self-identify as having a short attention span.

I also, of course, have some writing goals, although they are not particularly specific. As members of my writers group, Sharks & Pebbles, can tell you, I've gotten really bad at querying and submitting lately, for no good reason. So I have to set a goal to keep them off my back, and the only way to do that is to send stuff out. I grew up on the West Coast, so I know that it's always a good thing to keep the sharks away.

Next year I will reach the end of my current novel in process, again thanks to Sharks & Pebbles. if I'm calculating correctly, my group will probably see the last of this draft in March, maybe April. That means I have some writing and a ton of revising to do, and I need to start thinking about what comes next. 

And, I recently rediscovered some of my old short stories and poetry. I think I'd like to get back to writing those, and maybe see about doing something with some of those old pieces that aren't as embarrassing as others.

Writing this, I realize (not like I didn't know it before) how important my group is, so I want to do a better job keeping up with the group, provide better critiques, and generally do a better job as the token dude in the group.

But, mind you, none of these are resolutions. I've found in the past that messing up on a resolution makes me prone to say, "Well, I blew that one," and move on to breaking the next one. So I don't make resolutions. I just have a mental list of Stuff I Wanna Do. If it's not formalized, I no longer have a good reason to fail when I reach a rough patch. I just pick back up and work on getting it done.


Yamile said...

I read this wonderful post last night and my phone wouldn't let me comment. Then, firefox ate my comment. I didn't want to give up though, so here's try number three.

I don't make resolutions either, and I also make a mental list of things I want to do. I love having smallish goals, like this year, I want you guys to finish reading my manuscript instead of jumping to another project.

I'm also reading as many Newberry medalists and honors as I can.

The Sharks and Pebbles are the driving force in my writing life. I don't wan to let you guys down.

Happy new Year, Scott, and keep querying that awesome book!

Julie Daines said...

Viva La Sharks and Pebbles. You guys rock and I owe you for helping me with my manuscripts!! It's tough love, but the Sharks are the best!

You've got me thinking about what goals and writing resolutions I should be setting for 2013. Great post!

Jaime Theler said...

I like the idea of having reading resolutions. I usually don't do that, but there are some classics that I've never gotten to that I might like to try. And you know you publicly gave Sharks & Pebbles permission to get on your back about querying now. :) Thanks for the post.

And, for the record, you're a great token dude. :)

Bruce Luck said...

Thank goodness for the sharks and pebbles. They've got sharp teeth, yet smooth stones to walk you where you need to be.

Congrats, Scott, on the down-time. It does a body good.

Taffy said...

I make my resolutions at the beginning of the school year. That seems to work better for me.
BUT I make reading goals in January and it is usually: read 75 books this year.
Sharks and Pebbles rock! I KNOW a critic group works. My MS is so much better because of what other shark eyes catch.