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2013 Goals

I've never been big on New Year's Resolutions, for largely the same reasons that I'm not into NaNoWriMo. Just like there's no magical fairy dust floating in the November air that makes it the prime time to sit down and churn out a book, there's nothing particularly special about January 1 that makes sweeping life changes easier to accomplish. Just the opposite: the sudden pressure to morph into someone new right now often backfires. People tend to bite off more than they can handle, get disillusioned and impatient, and burn out by the time Valentine's Day chocolates appear in grocery stores.

However, I do have some goals that I've set for myself, and the national onset of Resolution Fever is a good time to share them.

I'm not going to say 2012 was a bad year. It wasn't what I expected it to be, but it wasn't bad. I didn't churn out tangible products like other writers, who can say they sold X novels and published in Y anthologies. But if you empty the contents of the brain of T. K. Marnell from December 2011 and prop it next to a container of the contents of T. K. Marnell's brain as it is now, I think you would see big differences in both volume and quality.

Still, by December 2013 I'd like to make some material progress as well. I have three primary goals.

1. Secure a Full-Time Job

I like working for CISAB. I meant to stay until Sweetie graduates in 2014, so I'd feel bad skipping out after only one semester. But here's the thing—I like working for CISAB, and lately CISAB has had no work for me to do.

Being an hourly employee is frustrating because I'm not a leech by nature. If I don't have things to accomplish, I won't show up to get paid for browsing the news. So because the department basically shut down for the past month, I've had no steady source of income. Even during the busiest weeks, I can finish the simple tasks assigned to me in a snap. I'm regularly forced to dream up new projects for myself, and by now I've run out of ways to be useful.

I actually wanted to find a new job by the end of December, but CISAB wasn't the only department that shut down. The entire university and the town around it went into hibernation. But the city's finally waking up again, and today I received an email inviting me to an interview for a full-time staff position. Fingers crossed that I won't be griping about poverty much longer.

2. Write One Novel

This year, I spent more time thinking and writing about writing than I did on actual stories. And that was fine for 2012 because I'd never given any thought to "the craft" before, but now I need to step up from theory to practice.

Because I intend to be working from 8 to 5, and because I don't want to put so much pressure on myself that I give up and hide in marathons of bad TV shows, I'm going to make my writing goal very small and attainable: finish the first draft of one novel by Christmas 2013. That's it. Not multiple novels plus a short story a week; not even a polished, publishable manuscript; just one first draft. No pressure.

3. Finish My Copyediting Certificate

The second semester of my copyediting program begins on Monday. I've already read the bulk of the textbook, and I'm ready to pounce on the first assignment. To tell the truth, this is the first time in my life I've taken the initiative to read textbooks before my courses began. Though I was a straight-A student from sixth grade through graduate school, I never read more than the bare minimum assigned (and for most of college, I didn't open my required books at all. The material on assignments and exams was covered by lectures, not the hundred dollar doorstops on the syllabi. Towards the end I simply stopped buying them). Now I'm even devouring the recommended texts. Methinks I should have chosen a field I had a genuine interest in long ago.

I'm guaranteed to reach this goal as long as I keep chugging along on schedule. Semesters in this program are shorter than the university terms I'm used to—only 10 weeks each—so if I take Copyediting II in summer and Copyediting III in fall, I'll wrap the certificate up by December 2013. Even if I fail at the other two, I at least know that I'll have another pretty diploma this time next year.


Nam Chen Marnell (January 4, 2013, 3:46 pm)

a crisp, clear mission statement. Doesn't hurt for a writer to self-edit, but unfortunately Mark and I will have to stop congratulating ourselves that none of our kids went into "English".

(Will not be shown)

What is the first letter of "Missouri"?