It’s the time of year when a lot of people put together their end-of-the-year lists. Their favorite new books, movies, or music. The bests and the worsts of the year. I never know how they manage it. I’ve tried, and the only way I can figure it is if you work on the thing all year, every year, as you go. Even that, I lost track of before a year is out, usually.
The current world of constant, tiny, digital updates about everything I’m doing ought to help, but for most things there aren’t really any good filters. The best one I can think of, and I think I used it the last couple of years, too, is Goodreads, because I definitely “check in” every book I read, there, and I usually rate what I read, and frequently review them, too. So at the least, I can say things like “I read (finished) only 38 books in 2012.” I only gave one of them five stars, and then sadly gave its sequels 3, 2, and 2 stars each.
I did give 10 books four stars, though, so there were several good books, this year. Almost a quarter of what I read! The first 3 Circle of Magic books, the first 2 Young Wizards books (I haven’t read 3+, yet), The Diamond Age, The Search for Wondla, The Graveyard Book, The Eyes of the Dragon, and Dan Ariely‘s The Honest Truth About Dishonesty.
I also read all 13 books in the Series of Unfortunate Events and, sadly, couldn’t give a single one of them more than 3 stars. In fact, I gave almost half of the series 2 stars or less. It was a real disappointment.
So what about other stuff? Movies, TV, games, et cetera? I check in on GetGlue, but it doesn’t really break that down by year, and there’s no real rating/review mechanism there. I can scroll through my check-ins, my likes, et cetera, but most of those pages don’t have a time-stamp at all, and those that do are all relative & vague (2 days ago, 6 months ago, a year ago). I can say that I’ve been playing a lot of The Secret World, this year, not much Star Trek Online, and that I started playing a lot of (and burned out on) Star Wars: The Old Republic within the last 3 weeks. I played Mass Effect and enjoyed it, then tried going directly into Mass Effect 2 and hated the changes to the basic gameplay mechanics so much I stopped playing within a couple hours and haven’t touched it since.
I’m enjoying the final season of Fringe, though perhaps less than the middle years. The latest season of Misfits has been interesting, and Rudy has really grown on us (which he better, since not a single member of the original cast now remains on the show). I started watching Bones with Mandy a season or two ago, but I feel the current season has lost its way; the characters are acting out-of-character, some to the point of seeming schizophrenic not just episode-to-episode but within the course of a single hour. Castle is back to being light and fun this season, which is good – going too serious and dark was a major misstep.
Cloud Atlas and Life of Pie were amazing attempts to film difficult texts. Looper and Prometheus were fun to watch. The Master was an interesting experience. The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, Skyfall, Resident Evil: Retribution, Underworld Awakening, Cabin in the Woods, The Amazing Spiderman, Men In Black 3, Dark Shadows, Total Recall, The Hunger Games*, Moonrise Kingdom, and even The Devil’s Carnival were … neither better or worse than was to be expected; I didn’t love or hate any of them, I wasn’t surprised by them or really engaged by them, they were just … the next one either in the series you know or from the team you know, and if you’re familiar with the old ones, you knew what to expect with the new ones. (*I included The Hunger Games, because it felt like it was just executing what we were already expecting & familiar with, and the rest of what I said was true.) Brave felt like yet another step down for Pixar; the 7 films from Monsters Inc. through UP were amazing, then Toy Story 3, Cars 2, and Brave have been incrementally steps away from their former creativity, depth, character, and meaningful storytelling. I don’t have high hopes for Monsters University. Safety Not Guaranteed was fun and quirky and better than expected, considering Duplass. Oh, and my standout favorite from the Phoenix Film Festival (which I should have done a post about right afterward, considering I saw close to 50 films that week) was How Do You Write a Joe Schermann Song, which doesn’t have distribution (yet).
Oh, and then there’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. It’s the first new film from Fincher I have little/no interest in owning. Not because of the filmmaking, which was amazing and beautiful and I’m sure painstakingly executed, but because the story was dull and predictable and needlessly violent – though not as violent or shocking as many viewers had led me to believe. I know it came out in 2011, I’m not sure, I think I waited until January to see it, but … sigh. The score/soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross though, I have been listening to a lot since its release. It’s excellent to write to, for example.
The new version of iTunes seems designed around emphasizing how badly previous versions of iTunes have screwed up my music collection, especially re: cover art. I’m thinking of maybe taking a few dozen hours to go through and clean everything up. The art is frequently wrong, it thinks a lot of files are missing but when I hit ‘Locate’ they’re right where they ought to be in the iTunes folder, and because of various changes to how compilations are handled over the years, those tracks are shotgun-scattered across my library. With the new interface, these problems make iTunes practically unusable.
Oh, and then there’s me. I finished writing, and published, two new novels in the first half of 2012: Sophia and Emily. I did a lot of research toward writing YA adventure books, and still have quite a bit of research left to do. I spent some time trying to develop a tabletop / deck-building game, and look forward to completing that project in the future. I wrote a book in the Death Noodle Glitterfairy Robot Saga, which I need to edit and will probably publish in the first half of 2013. I attempted to write a book about people who accidentally discover the cure for aging and death, but it fought me at every turn, and crashed and burned, and took my sanity with it – I’ve spent most of the last three weeks trying to get back to a moderate level of functionality, after that painful ordeal. I will probably attempt to re-write that book from scratch, some day, but not until I have more distance. My business has had more revenue and realized more profit this year than ever before, though it’s still small potatoes. I ran another unsuccessful Kickstarter, and have so far failed to sell out a tiny 50-copy limited edition of my latest book. Mandy and I have been happily married for a little over 5 years now, and will be celebrating Christmas (and, belatedly, our 5-year anniversary) at Walt Disney World next week.
Next year, I think I’ll start by not working on books for a while – I want to just focus on creating new artwork, at least at first. I’m planning on getting the DNGR book published in time to sell at PHXCC’13, but do not otherwise have plans to write/edit/publish anything else next year… though realistically, I don’t really have any plans, at all. I’ve been tossing around an idea about putting together a sort of anthology/periodical full of “short” works by myself and (primarily) other authors, so maybe I’ll work on that over 2013. After 5 years of doing this full time, I think I’m finally beginning to accept that I can just work on whatever I want to work on, without really paying too much attention to what people want, or what will sell; doing more-commercial work doesn’t actually result in more sales, but it does result in more stress and anguish for me. If I end up doing nothing but sketching and doodling and drawing all year -without producing any art to even try to sell- I’ll still probably profit, the way I have my business set up, and I’ll be that much better at drawing, for when I come up with something I actually want to create.
I think what I’m saying is: I’m giving up on the constant-release schedule I’d set for myself. I’m no longer aiming for 2-4 new books a year, every year, or to have 35-40 titles “under my belt” by 2020. (Which, you may not realize, has been part of my over-arching goals for the last several years.) If I have books to write, I’ll write them. If I don’t, I won’t. If I’m ready to write when November comes around, great, and if not – no NaNoWriMo for me, and that’s okay.
Stressing myself out to the point where I’m losing my ability to function day-to-day, that’s not okay.