“Stitched together with good intentions”: Hello 2013. I’ve been expecting you.

One of my Facebook friends just posted this quote from Augusten Burroughs:

“I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.”

It struck me as appropriate.

After all, the start of a new year is all about good intentions, isn’t it?

I had them throughout 2012. They largely involved writing. Writing more of what I wanted to write, writing what I should try to write, writing not just for fun but for discipline. Making myself write even when I can’t think of anything I’d rather avoid more. On the whole, I can happily reflect that, at least for the last half of the year, I managed. The days when I can’t be bothered sitting at my laptop for a few hours in the evening – after a whole day in front of a computer screen at work – are few and far between anyway. But I’d gotten into the habit of letting the little voice in my head that reminds me how relaxing it is to watch TV win. Breaking the habit was almost impossible and I wasn’t completely successful, but I wasn’t a total failure, either.

I had more determination to submit pieces to various publications, too. I’d better not say how many because it corresponds with the amount of times I heard nothing or was stiffly rejected, but it was more frequently than ever before. Rejection sucks but it’s no worse than knowing you never gave yourself a chance in the first place.

With these two factors in mind – a slightly more disciplined approach to writing and a mildly more frequent rate of actually finishing small pieces to a submittable, if not perfect, standard – I now know where I fell short.

Reading.

Yep.

It amuses me how many people assume journalists and/or writers read anything and everything we can get our hands on.

WE DON’T.

Well, I certainly don’t.

The last book I read cover-to-cover was, I think, Simone Felice’s Black Jesus. It’s about a young soldier returned from Iraq after an accident rendered him blind, and how his story collides with that of a wayward, would-be ballerina named Gloria. I read it about a week after I read James Franco’s (yes, that James Franco) Palo Alto. I also loved that, in spite of myself. It’s a bloody awful and immensely concise collection of vaguely intertwined short stories about, mostly, a bunch of disturbed teenagers smoking a lot of pot and having a lot of weird sex. I couldn’t put it down and I still don’t know why; his writing style grabbed me by the throat and turned me into a gluttong for punishment.

See, I’m a picky reader.

I am also – and hear this on every level – incredibly slow. If you think you’re a slow reader, trust me, I’m worse.

It’s not because I’m totally thick (I think). I think it’s because I put too much emphasis on punctuation when I read, which I think is also the same reason I’m so picky with what I do read. I pause at commas and full stops and I never, ever skip words. If I’m reading a book, I commit. If it bores me – and I have a near-ADD certified attention span when it comes to books – I skim read. And the only thing I commit to more than reading is skim reading. It’s less like glancing over every other page and more like jumping to the last chapter and then working backwards to see what else I may or may not have missed.

My point is, I always have good intentions. I also have an insane amount of books cramming my shelves and a vast portion of them are unread. Every month or so I vow to not buy another tome until I’ve knocked a few off the To Read shelf. I last did that last week. And yesterday I bought the JRR Tolkien box set, Les Miserables, Anna Karenina, Life of Pi and The Great Gatsby (Books I Need To Read Before I See The Films, for those playing at home).

So 2013’s ridiculous resolutions feature, in top spot (right next to “Eat healthier”, AMIRIGHT), is “Read more”.

First order of business is joining the Australian Women Writers Challenge. I’ll probably write more about it soonish. On this blog, that is. Which I neglected last year. A lot. (Hi there, second New Year’s resolution).

The idea is to read at least six books by – GUESS – Australian women writers, and review four. There’s different options but that’s the one I went for. Six books in 12 months is ambitious for me. Six by female authors – I’ve realised I have a completely non-deliberate leaning to male authors – is going to take determination. The reviews though, if I get that far, will be fun.

Already on my list are these two:

– All That I Am, Anna Funder (of course)

– Whisky Charlie Foxtrot, Annabel Smith

Whether or not I manage it remains to be seen. But, you know, my intentions are pure.

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