Not to be a #cliche, but 2017 brought a lot of changes for me, both in my personal life and my online life. It was, in many ways, a year where things settled down for me, and I felt like my life really got itself on track to where I want it to go. I feel like I have personally reached a kind of inner zen I hadn’t thought possible for myself.
Since I used to make several end-of-year type posts back when I used to blog on Livejournal, I felt it might be appropriate to migrate the tradition over here. I got quite a bit wordy, so I put everything under the “read more” (which I just discovered was a thing this week). I’m going to talk quite a bit about various changes and accomplishments that happened in 2017, as well as hopes for 2018. Let’s get to it!
1. Speaking of Livejournal! Quitting that blogging platform has to be this year’s biggest change in my life. I had been blogging on Livejournal since August 2007 – yes, that’s a decade! I can hardly believe it! Over time, sadly, droves of people left Livejournal, essentially turning it into a ghost town. As this happened, I spent less and less time on the site, and eventually I went from posting 2-3 times a day to once a month. All of my friends from that platform had left, and I was spending way more time on Tumblr and on WordPress. So finally, I made a firm decision to no longer use Livejournal. Eventually I will delete my journal (get it off those Russian servers lmao). For now, I’m using a paper journal whenever I feel the need to write things out. I want to try to maintain it the same way I maintained Livejournal, so I can go back and scroll through it at the end of the year to reflect.
2. I became a writer. That sounds really dramatic, and of course I’ve been a writer for many years. But this was the first year I really started to take it seriously, to genuinely consider getting publishing a book. And I did manage to publish something this year: two short stories in a semi-professional market (The Dark Magazine)! I also attended a writing workshop (Madcap Cross-Cultural Writing) and a writing conference (Sirens Conference), got to know a lot more people in the community, followed a lot of agents on Twitter, and began to learn more about the publishing world. I also trunked my first completed novel, but it taught me a lot about my writing habits. I am now working on a brand new fantasy trilogy set in a world inspired by 19th century Cairo. There’s been a dramatic change not only in my writing skills but also in my outlook on writing.
3. I finished my first Master’s degree! Nearly two years ago I enrolled in a program for Higher Education & Student Affairs, and just two weeks ago I took my final class. My actual diploma should hopefully come in next month sometime! I hadn’t really given much thought to this Master’s degree because, unfortunately, in the midst of it, I realized I didn’t want to go into student affairs at all. By then it was much too late to back out. So I had just thought of it in terms of finishing it off so I could stop #suffering. But now I realize, hey, it’s a Master’s degree!
4. I decided on a career! I have been waffling about what I want to do with my life for as long as I can remember, and it was only this year that I realized I want to be a librarian. I committed to the decision by enrolling in library school, for a Master’s in Library Science. I’ve only taken two classes so far, but I am actually looking forward to taking more! I am legitimately interested in library science and very much look forward to being a librarian. Not only am I interested in the profession, but it is exactly the sort of flexible, low-stress position I always wanted.
5. I started writing full reviews of books! I had started to do this even before I committed to book blogging, because I realized I wanted to have more of my thoughts on a book recorded, as star ratings don’t really tell you much! Once my friend Rachel went into blogging, I was really encouraged by her, and decided to breathe life back into this blog, which actually started as a TV/media blog!
6. I got a Kindle! I was never adamantly opposed to e-readers or anything, but I much preferred the aesthetic of physical books. However, I started developing some serious neck problems, and my mother surmised it was because I was often lugging around 500+ books on my back. She…was probably right. So I got a Kindle for my birthday, and I really love it! It’s soooooo light, and I love not having to lug around 500+ page books with me! I still read physical books, but at home, where I don’t have to carry them.
7. This is kind of a carry-over from last year, but…I fell in love with my hair. At the start of 2016 I made the decision to stop straightening my hair and make the transition to completely natural hair. And I’m still at it! I’ve been nurturing my curls for two years now, and for two whole years I haven’t straightened it once. Even when I’m bored of it, even when I’m having bad hair days, I love that I have big curly hair.
8. I read 75 books! I haven’t read this many books in one year since seventh grade, and the books were waaaaay shorter back then. I never ever stopped reading, but there were some years here and there where I read much less than I would have liked to (in 2014 I only read 17 books!). In general, for like the past seven years, I’ve been averaging 30-40 books a year, so for me to have reached 75 a year is just…fucking astonishing. I’m so proud of myself. I am determined to keep this up next year; my Goodreads challenge will be set to 70 books.
1. Be more frugal. Over this past year I’ve started spending way beyond my means, and now that I have to pay for graduate school out of pocket I need to start conserving more money. I have somehow, miraculously, managed to avoid student loans so far, and I don’t intend to start racking up debt now. This means, unfortunately, as much as I am tempted by book subscription boxes like OwlCrate and FairyLoot, I have to put them off for now. In general, I have to stop buying so many books when I have one of the country’s largest libraries at my disposal.
2. Read at least 70 books! I read a lot on my very long commute, but I want to dedicate more time specifically to reading, and less to wasting time (I truly excel at wasting time). On the weekends especially, I often spend time lounging around not doing anything at all; I want to fill that time up with reading.
3. Finish the first book in my fantasy trilogy. Though a trilogy, the first book is a stand-alone, and it is completely and fully outlined. Outlining is often the hardest part for me; that is, actually coming up with everything that needs to happen and how the book has to end. Now that I’ve done that, all that’s left is to actually, you know, do the thing. Actually put words to paper. It’s been going well so far; I’m not writing as much as I would like, but I’m also learning to go easy on myself.
4. Start querying agents. I’ve already started making a spreadsheet of agents I might query, and I’ve started drafting query letters. I’m not scared or nervous about this – I just need to finish the damn book and revise it like hell. Then I will start querying. Hopefully this happens sooner rather than later, but even if it happens by December of next year it will be a success.
5. Apply for a Fulbright. This may seem random, but I have actually been wanting to apply for a Fulbright grant since I was an undergraduate – I met with the Fulbright advisor and everything. The timing was just never right. I know it’s a ridiculous long shot, especially for the program I want (University College London’s School of Oriental and African Studies), but it’s a shot at being able to study in London for a year. I’m probably not their ideal candidate – I already have Masters degrees, I’m going to be nearly thirty by the time they reach their decision – but I’m determined to go for it anyway, so I never have to think “what if.” I’ve already started working on my application essays, to be submitted in September 2018.
This isn’t really a “tag people” kind of thing, and anyway I’ve been seeing a lot of people putting their own spin on this type of end-of-year post. It’s been a blast reading them all. I’m looking forward to starting the new year with everyone here! 😀