Starting 2016 A Little Late This Year

Happy 2016!  I’ve never been a consistent reviewer and, true to form, it’s been some time since I last posted. But while I’ve been taking the last couple months off I haven’t been entirely relaxing. Completely the opposite, in fact.  I’ve been working on submissions outside of this blog – something I want to do more of in the future and which will (by necessity) change the content of the posts you’ll find here.

Are you surprised?  Does any of this sound familiar?  I’ve noticed a lot of posts lately, by some of my favorite bloggers, saying much the same thing.  Bloggers burned out by the daily grind of keeping up a blog, finding it difficult to balance their online & offline lives or just wanting to focus more on submitting their work to places that might pay. Many of these blogs, like mine, came online around 2009 – which leads me to wonder why we all seem to be feeling the same way at the same time. A case of the seven  year itch perhaps?

Displaying 20160119_064006.jpg
Emma, who has eaten so many of the books reviewed on this blog that there was really no choice but to make her a mascot.

Submitting reviews while still creating content here is obviously going to create some challenges.  My posts are still going to be about books and translations – this will remain a literary blog – so the reviews aren’t going away.  Mostly because I’ve never been much of a personal essayist. I’m not a particularly private person, it isn’t that, but my private life isn’t particularly interesting. And I really love writing reviews.  Yet there’s no denying that this blog has grown stale – probably for you as much as for me. That’s something I hope to change going forward.

If all goes as planned 2016 is going to be a busy year. And for my first official post of the New Year let’s start with Reading & Writing Goals of 2016.

I always sign up for the GoodReads Reading Challenge. Even though after 3 years of trying I still haven’t hit my goal. This year I’m going for 60 books and I’m already 3 books behind! But part of my reading goals for 2o16 is to actually spend more time reading. Doesn’t everyone feel like they have less and less time these days?  To combat the hyper-acceleration of modern life (yep, I went there!) I’m working on a major restructuring of how I live. More about that later this week.  (Here’s a hint: a certain Japanese book is part of my plan).  Back to Goodreads –  who else is taking part  in the challenge and how many books have you set as your goal? Let me know in the comments.

What’s on the reading list?  Translations, of course.  But also some non-fiction. Last year there was no plan – no rhyme or reason as to what I was reading. And I prefer to have a plan.  I was discussing the blog with a friend and she brought up a series on gardening books I did the first year of the blog.  Those are some of my favorite posts because I was able to explore a single subject in-depth.  In hindsight two factors made that series possible.  First, I wasn’t getting as many review copies back then.  More often than not the mail tends to dictate what I read now.  This isn’t a bad thing – I’m definitely NOT complaining. I’ve been introduced to authors and publishers and books from all over the world – and am hugely grateful for the education and the opportunities that have resulted.  But last year I was reading by the seat of my pants.  Which leads to the second factor – planning. Series like the one on gardening take some advance planning.  There needs to be more of that here in 2016.  The goal is that every month is going to have a unifying theme and/or focus.  Not necessarily reading books from a single country or a region for a month.  I’m thinking of more abstract ideas –  sometimes it will be a personal writing challenge I set myself, or a type of book, a specific subject or idea. I’ve got a few things planned but am always open to suggestions.

Lastly, expect more experimentation. The majority of posts on this blog have been straightforward reviews of translations.  And you’ll still find those here.  But there will also be more nonfiction, more interviews, more opinions and news pieces (I’ve become a bit obsessed with traditional journalism over the last few months)…  and maybe my version of creative writing.  We’ll see.  The real goal this year is to mix things up a little.

5 thoughts on “Starting 2016 A Little Late This Year

  1. It’s always interesting to mix up what you post I think that is how I’ve avoid becoming bored of my blog this year I’m less fussed about reviewing every book I read than others so only put books I’ve reviewed on my 2016 list on Blog but this means I have keep a tally elsewhere so using good reads for that at mo all that could change

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Stu –

      I really like using Goodreads to keep track of what I’ve read – though it’s always a little disappointing. I am not the prodigious reader you are!

      If you were to stop using Goodreads what other options are you looking at?


  2. I can completely relate to your priorities and objectives and I’ve only been blogging for about a year and a half (and only about books for a year). I have other pressures at play in that I’ve been on stress leave and need to think seriously about trying to supplement my income in the medium of words because I don’t want to go back into the high stress work I was doing. I too am focusing on writing off blog though generally it is for online magazines that cannot pay. However, the publishing credit, the audience and the editing experience is vital. As well, because I am euphemistically “on staff” at Numero Cinq, the behind the scenes experience affords connections with people (often Canadian which is an advantage to me) who have professional backgrounds in other aspects of writing and publishing. Realistically I feel that I would be wise to obtain some training in proof reading, copy-editing etc – skills I can hopefully contract. I am looking at a couple of certificate programs available where I live.

    The pressure to read and review new releases can be intense and again I am new to the game. One of the things I love about my blog is that I can read what I want, even if it is a classic or something from a back catalogue. And I can be as idiosyncratic as I desire! I have also learned by writing more mini reflective pieces, that readers respond to my personal essay type writing (often far more than reviews). Although I am cautious not to publish any serious work I might wish to submit elsewhere, the exercise and the feedback is invaluable.

    I look forward to following where your writing takes you and seeing how your blog evolves. Best wishes!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Roughghosts –

      You are not alone. Everyplace I’ve submitted reviews to so far is an online magazine or site that doesn’t pay. To be fair – I don’t blame the sites themselves. I’m sure the people who run them put in a great deal of work for relatively small financial return. Unfortunately, that seems to be the trend these days. But I hold out hope. I doubt I’ll ever be able to make my living solely through reviews – but I think I’m ok with that. I keep telling myself I’m like one of those 19th century amateur enthusiasts who made contributions to science and exploration as something of a hobby versus for profit. Not as satisfying as money in the bank, but whatever gets us through the day, lol! In the meantime, like you I’m hoping the writing credits will help build my resume. And isn’t being edited AMAZING!???

      I just reread the paragraph above and I hope I don’t sound ungrateful. I’m really very proud to have had my work accepted where it has been. Money or no, sites like the Rumpus and Necessary Fiction are putting some excellent writing online. I know it sounds cheesy, but its always a shock when they say yes!

      Thank you for your good wishes. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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