Better Living Through List-making

There’s a lot of satisfaction in making a list of things you can cross off. Or so people tell me! I don’t make those kinds of lists, because I forget they exist before anything reaches a cross-off-able state.

I also don’t think much of New Year’s resolutions. Nothing about the arbitrary turning of one year to the next makes me likely to stick to a new diet, habit, or lifestyle. In fact, it’s usually the opposite. Time off work ushers in the kind of ludicrous optimism that leads to pledges like: no caffeine, no food after 6pm, no TV ever. I’ve known myself long enough to know not a single specific resolution is ever going to stick.

Instead, what I’m planning to do in the new year is step up what I’m already doing.

In and out of class, read read read read read. I fell short of my goal of 75 books this year–that includes comics, TPBs, novels, academic works, compilations, anthologies, zines, and poetry chapbooks. I probably won’t aim so high again this year, but aiming to go a little over 2014’s total feels right.

This gets its own paragraph: I really want to work as a slush reader somewhere, to get a better idea of the backside (underbelly? guts?) of publishing.

The stricture of “write every day!!!!!” has never worked for me. The don’t-break-the-chain method makes me feel broken and fettered. Forcing words when words will not be forced isn’t the solution for me, though I am eternally bitterly maniacally jealous of those for whom it is. Instead I have a number of words goal and a number of works goal and a number of new-things-tried goal. I’m going to meet those goals, even if it means turning into an insomniac scribbling on napkins and floorboards next December.

What if I put a new article on this blog every week? What if I follow through on my plans to pitch to other (SCARY) blog and magazine outlets? What if I rework two of the pieces I produced in class this year for a less academic audience? What if I stop talking myself out of submitting stories for publication? What if I finally get my zine constructed and for sale through an online portal and a zine distributor? What if I just stop letting my fear stop me from putting my work out into the world? That sounds like an excellent plan.

Bossy Britches is a real joy to host and produce. This year I want to open it up to more guests, from a much larger pool of pop culture critics and consumers. I’m also taking up the reins on the Apex Magazine Podcast this year–my first episode will be out in January and features one of the coolest short stories I read in all of 2014. I hope to be able to work with other authors and readers to produce the new episodes throughout the year. And I hope The Televoid will have me back whenever they need another someone to get exasperated about bad TV.

I’ve spent so much of my life in various paroxysms of terror about money and travelling alone and being a person in the world. Three solitary vacations in the past few years finally showed me that a) this is ridiculous; b) I am ridiculous; c) I reeeeally like travelling. So: more of that. I’m lucky that school requires me to do it again at least once before I’m done, and I’m meeting friends for an amazingly geeky long weekend when the Avengers come back to theaters. Hopefully other opportunities will open themselves up–and if they don’t, I’ll just have to make them.

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2 thoughts on “Better Living Through List-making”

  1. Hi Lisa,

    I’m a relatively new subscriber to your blog, so I don’t think we’ve communicated before. I just wanted to leave you a note because your post struck a chord with me.

    We have a lot of similar goals for 2015. Read more? Absolute necessity. Write and submit more? One can’t be an author if her stories remain locked away in a folder — or worse, in her head.

    What is your zine going to be about? I searched your site but couldn’t find anything that directly mentioned it.

    Best of luck on a great 2015!

    1. Hi Adan, welcome, and happy new year!

      Getting the words down sometimes feels like the hardest part, but putting them in front of someone else? I hope we both have lots of success with it in 2015.

      The zine is a horror mashup using works by Virginia Woolf, John Steinbeck, and Leslie Marmon Silko. But I am thinking about doing a collaborative or anthology zine later in the year, so watch this space!

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