2022: Write A New Beginning for This Story
There are New Year's resolutions like these:
- Exercise more
- Eat healthier
- Meditate first thing in the morning
- Use a daily planner
...which feel more like socially acceptable lifestyle habits that everyone pretends they're really good at maintaining. The thing is, nobody really follows through, because if they did, they wouldn't need to resolve the same thing every year.
And then there are resolutions born out of a deep need for change. Progress. Evolution. An ideal informed by trial and error, or something that happened in the previous year to make you sit up and think, Never again, or That really worked for me; more of that.
So I asked a group of readers and writers what resolutions they are bringing with them into the new year. At the end, I'll share my own.
My resolution actually has nothing to do with writing—at least, not directly. But I plan on spending more time in nature with my wife and kids. We do that a little, but not nearly enough. And every time we reconnect with nature, I wonder why we don't do it more often. I'd like this resolution to become a permanent practice too, so here's hoping we stick to it.
I’m intent on reading more horror books in YA and MG; I want to get a better spectrum of my favorite genre. Also, I haven't hit 100 books before, but 2023 is going to be my year for it.
Don’t make resolutions.
New Year's goal: Write for clarity - edit for power.
My recipe for success has always been: "Write for power, edit for clarity." This typically leads to a bloated, haymaker-throwing first draft. To improve things, I switch it up by trading in my drafting cleaver for a scalpel.
My New Year’s resolution is to kill this idea that I am only validated through “hustle culture” and working myself to the point of exhaustion.
If these past few years have taught me anything it’s that there’s nothing greater you can give yourself than time. There’s just so much out there, an endless stream of news and worry to get carried away by, but I’m pulling myself away from it more and more, because it does not serve me in any positive way.I’m going to enjoy sitting in stillness, quiet, and meditation more because that’s where I’ve been able to find the greatest peace. Shutting out the distraction has been great for my health, creativity, writing, and happiness, and I look forward to doing that more in 2022
—Cynthia Pelayo, author of Children of Chicago
I think my major bookish New Year's resolution is to actually read some of the books I’ve had sitting on my shelves for a few years now. Of course it’s tempting to follow trends and pick up a copy of the hottest book on the market at the moment, but there are so many excellent books I’ve yet to discover. Not to mention, books have no expiration date. A good book will always find the audience it deserves.
—Eric LaRocca, author of Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke
Next year, I plan to let the writers of books I loved know that I liked their work! As a writer, I know just how fantastic that feels.
—Wendy Wagner, author of The Deer Kings
Stephen Graham Jones
I need to learn to say "no" more. The me who gets stacked with projects and deadlines and obligations never has nice words to say about that dude who, for some reason —probably because “he” wouldn’t have to deal with it, or because it feels like letting people down to decline, or because it feels like paying back into the system you love — says yes to way too much. Trick is, though, all that stuff has a price tag. What you pay for over-commitment with is twenty minutes just to look out a window, or stare at a wall, or walk nowhere, for no reason. Without downtime, though, what’s the “up” really worth, right? So, I plan on, somehow, saying “no” more. And maybe even not feeling guilty for it. But, really, that second one might end up being next year’s resolution. Or the year after that. Trying to decline and pass and apologize for it all is more than enough for now.
Related: this isn’t the first time I’ve made this exact resolution.
—Stephen Graham Jones, author of My Heart is Like A Chainsaw
For 2022 I'm aiming to be less frantic. Reading and writing has always been my happy place, my retreat, and I've let myself get stressed with a constant need to be doing. I want to be more judicious, and aim for quality over quantity, and build in rests. I'm hoping 2022 is a more peaceful year for all of us.
My writing resolution is the result of a lot of soul searching in 2021. I don't have any word count or productivity goals. In 2022, I want to be as honest and fearless with my writing as possible. I intend to push myself to confront truths and questions and emotions that make me uncomfortable in my fiction and non fiction. I want to lean into myself when I create instead of focusing on what might sell. It will be my blood mixed in with my soul on the page, and I want that to be palpable to readers.
Professionally, I want to do the same. The last two years have hammered home just how precious time is, and I want to make use of the time I have by being honest about what I want from my career. I've written a novella. I've put together a short story collection. I'm outlining a novel. I want these books in readers' hands. It feels very selfish and self centering to say that out loud, but it's now or never. It's time to slay impostor syndrome.
As a reader, I'd like to continue to read diverse books and titles that aren't in my comfort zone. I want to discover new writers and uplift their work. I'm going to focus on being kind, helpful and constructive to my peers, and making space for those who traditionally haven't had any. I'm excited for 2022 writing and reading wise. It's going to be difficult work, but it will be meaningful and worthwhile.
New Year’s Eve has long been my favorite holiday; it inspires the hell out of me. Another go-round, a new start, a moment to recognize, too, friends and family, Allison, songs, books. Every year I raise a glass and either declare or quietly say to myself: two more books and an album by this time next year. And sometimes I meet that goal, and sometimes I don’t. But missing goals is interesting, too, because the events that lead to missing them are usually story-worthy themselves. Also: I love dressing up. I try to do it most days anyway, but NYE feels like the one night of the year where how I feel inside is perfectly matched, finally, with the wide world outside. On no other night do I fit in quite like I do on New Year’s Eve.
Read someone totally unexpected.
My commitment for the new year is the same as each day: to increase love over fear by being kind to myself and others.
Like Joe R. Lansdale, I’m not one for making resolutions. I’ll focus on writing and on family, same as I always do.
Try not to despair of all the books you have in your TBR pile. Take it a book at a time!
For the first time in... well, ever, I'm closing to blurbs and going to focus on reading for pleasure. Not that reading books for blurbs isn't also deeply enjoyable, and a very real honor, because it is! But there's often a tight deadline to read them by, and they start to pile up, and it can get a little bit overwhelming. Plus, I have a TBR pile that, were it to fall over, would crush me into a greasy paste. So: 2022, the year of taking time to take a pick-axe to this teetering pile of books I've bought over the years...
In 2022, I'd like to be only mildly late for my deadlines.
Stop counting words written per day. Allow yourself to work slowly if you need to. The most important thing is to remain consistent. If you sit down to write every day, you'll reach your writing goals faster than you know it.
I resolve to seek out and read more horror novellas. We’re experiencing a renaissance of the form, and I truly believe they’re the sweet spot when it comes to pacing and tension in the genre.
I think an excellent resolution is to encourage people to read outside of their comfort zone. Supporting writers from marginalized communities not only helps the writers to continue their craft, but it sends the message to publishers and agents that these stories sell. At the end of the day publishing is a business. Publishing has ebbs and flows that can lead to discouragement.
On a more personal level it can give confidence to budding creators to take the leap of faith and share their own stories. It's intimidating to be the only one in the room doing something different. Inclusion isn't just a buzzword, it can mean someone has that extra little push to not give up on their dream. That dream, their shared story, just might make a difference in someone else's life. We are connected on this rock whether we like it or not. Why not make it a better place for future generations?
Writing my debut novel!
As a reader, one resolution I have is to finally tackle Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. My paperback copy has been on the bookshelf collecting dust for too long. It’s the kind of book I know I’m going to love, but I’ve prolonged reading it due to the intimidating reputation surrounding it. I plan on dedicating a month solely to it early on in the New Year. I want to take it slow, appreciating the experience. A magnum opus like that deserves to be savored.
In regards to my own writing, a resolution I have is to complete my new novella. I’ve learned a lot since self-publishing my debut, and my hope is to apply these lessons to my current project. The horror community has given me newfound confidence in myself when it comes to my writing voice, and I look forward to seeing how this new book is received once finished.
My New Years resolution is to protect myself the way I protect my loved ones, and to do more drugs!
Max Booth III
I deleted my Goodreads account in December, as I can no longer stomach Amazon or anything it owns. As a reader or a writer. I will never support them again. Plus, in addition to that, I don't really consider myself a critic, so I don't feel comfortable continuing to write reviews of the books I read. I also don't think "logging" my reading habits is very healthy, and only adds to the internet's need to know everything everybody is doing at all times. There's a thing with Goodreads where it makes reading feel like a video game you can succeed or fail at (fuck those annual reading challenges). I hate that kind of pressure. And I hate thinking of art like that. Ratings are disgusting. Art isn't designed to be graded on a one-out-of-five star system. How absolutely repulsive. Plus, I don't really feel the need to write negative things about books I don't enjoy. I'll continue recommending things I like, but the things I do not care for do not need to be publicly bashed. Writing a book is fucking hard. And, again, I am not a critic. I don't feel obligated or skilled enough to write lengthy analysis of published work. So I guess my resolution for next year is to maybe be more private with not just my books, but other areas of my life, and to also focus on the things that I enjoy rather than letting unpleasant things ruin my mood. I will probably fail at that last bit. I also plan on listening to more Trapt, because they effin' rock!
This coming year, my hope is to finally bring out a brand new novel. It’s been a couple of years and I’m hoping it’s time the planets and stars align!
As far as HWA and its course:
We are steering toward such a great position with so many new faces of many backgrounds really taking charge and making the organization their own. We’ll be doubling down on that and I do hope omicron is a last gasp instead of a restart, and that we can all finally get back to meeting in person, especially with ChillerCon and StokerCon not far on the horizon.
Now let's hear from some readers & reviewers...
“One of my biggest bookish resolutions for 2022 is to read more horror that has been translated to English. I feel like there's so much I am missing out on, so I'm making a point to find several translated works to add to my 2022 TBR.”
—Cady Dreadful @dreadfulesque
“My bookish New Year's resolution is to borrow more than buy. Since I work at a library, I really want to take advantage of all the great books I can read for free.”
"One of mine is to write my non paid review immediately after finishing a book. To harvest my feelings about the book immediately and get that reaction down. Since I have to choose my words so carefully for the paid reviews and write them to the best reader for that book, I want to capture a more personal review for other titles. But I can only do that if I get thoughts down immediately."
—Becky Spratford @RAforAll
"My New Year’s resolution is to write my short reviews right after I finish the book. A couple sentences just to get something down. Also, to get more writing jobs. Writing about horror brings me so much happiness. It’s something for me to hold onto that I can be proud of.”
—Janelle Janson @shereadswithcats
“My New Years resolution is to read what makes me happy, DNF when a book isn't bringing me joy, and to continue to add diversity to my reading!"
"I’m just planning to have fun and not focus on a number challenge for 2022! I usually up my Goodreads challenge by 5 from the previous year, but not for next year."
"Off the top of my head:
- rate and review every book
- spread more book love on social media (even for non-bookish/personal accounts)
- read outside of comfort zone
- support local libraries
- attend a book reading/author event"
"I am planning on reading a bunch of series in 2022. I have several that I own but haven’t started and I’m going to change that."
"Continue to build friendships and to be more engaging on IG and finally reading the Stalking Jack the Ripper Series that's been sitting on my shelf for over 2 years!"
"1. Launch my website so I can quit trying to make my reviews fit on IG
2. Attend a scary book convention
3. Figure out how to get more involved, find new ways to get the word out, whatever that looks like. TikTok, YouTube, something."
"I will try to not let the previous book I’ve read ruin the book I’m currently reading. Been happening a lot this year."
"My resolution is to go to at least one horror convention. And to finally get one of my books published! (That resolution held over from pretty much every year since I was 19. Oh well.)
"Continue to mood read because it seems to make my soul happy."
"For me I’m also trying to stay on top of finishing reviews ASAP. Submit some stories I’ve been working on. Connect more authors with adaptation possibilities."
"My resolution…and it’s going to be REALLY hard…is to read more of the books I already own. I have bought a RIDICULOUS number of books over the past 2 years (pandemic joy) and I keep buying, buying, buying. I want ALL the books! Now, I need to stop myself and read what I own."
And I have a few New Year's resolutions myself. The first is to organize my time during the day to prioritize reading by shuffling social media engagement lower on the "to do" list. Promotion is an important aspect of reviewing, but it's less important than actually reading and writing. I need to be mindful of that. It's easy to get caught up in the social aspect of social media, especially when my social life is so minimal during this fucking pandemic.
Secondly, I have resolved to review without the star rating. The revolution is called, Mort aux étoiles! Death to stars. And it's a reviewing philosophy that places the shared reading experience front and center instead of a star rating we (readers/reviewers) feel is reductive, subjective, and abused. In a community of readers, we're urging consumers to read the reviews instead of looking at stars.
Lastly, to always and forever be mindful to diversify my reading.
~Sadie Hartmann "Mother Horror"
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