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Random Thoughts: Looking Back and Looking Ahead #2

I remember creating my year-end post last year around this time, setting forth my goals for the year ahead and looking back (briefly) at the year I was leaving behind. And I remember being full of energy, full of excitement and full of a nervous hope about what the year might bring for me as a new book blogger. And I remember making the decision not to create a top ten list because I knew I wouldn’t be able to list just ten books.

Well, things are a lot different this year. And it’s not just because I participated in a week-long top ten event and actually forced myself to come up with not one but five top ten lists. While I am still full of excitement – it’s a new year filled with new debut authors, new books to love and sequels to be released – I can’t say I’m full of energy and thankfully I don’t have any time to be nervous.

This year I’ve been so busy I haven’t had the time to think about what this next year will bring. Trying, in vain, to reach my goals for the year, finish up reviews, and find just a little time for myself, has left me with very little time for introspection and even less time to look ahead.

And spending my last two evenings of 2011 stalking BlogTV with authors Leah Clifford and Scott Tracey, catching up on a last minute review for my only remaining 2011 DAC book and trying to have some New Year’s Eve fun, didn’t allow me any time to ponder.

So, instead of fondly looking back as the year closes – as that seems to have already happened – I’ll only be taking a brief look back, as this new year already begins to count down, and focusing on what is yet to come.

***

Looking back…

The year went by in a blur. Time tends to speed up as you get older and once you leave school behind, the years kind of all blend together. Wake up, go to work, come home, blog, read, sleep. Repeat.

At this time last year blogging was still so new, I had no idea what to expect, but I was full of hope. And I created eight New Year’s Resolutions…

How I did with my 2010 New Year’s Resolutions

1. To read more books. FAIL. Well, I actually did read more books than I did in 2010, but I actually read and reviewed fewer than I’d hoped. I do not have this as one of my resolutions this year.

2. To improve my skills as a reviewer. WIN (sort of). Well, I don’t know that I improved my skills as a reviewer, but I think I’ve found my voice. Of course, the problem with that is that my voice takes a long time to go from brain to page and so my reviews take two to four times as long as they used to.

3. To improve my blog. FAIL. I am a bit of a fail on this one on the technology front. Except for the beautiful design adds that I worked with Parajunkee Design to create, I haven’t done much in terms of blog improvement. I figured out how to add a “respond to comments” and “subscribe to comments” option, but that’s about it. As far as content goes, I’ve added a few new features, but some are quite time consuming so they’ve gone from weekly to bi-monthly.

4. To meet some of the wonderful authors whose books I read. WIN (sort of). While I did go to two author signings and the RT Convention and met many authors, I didn’t make it to BEA. I would have loved to meet the many, many authors I admire at that event in NYC. Maybe this year….

5. To be more social. WIN. Well, I’m still not the most social person in the world, but I think I’ve made a huge improvement over 2010. At least I think so.

6. To read more books. FAIL (again). Yes, I listed this twice last year. So, it’s like a double fail. Ouch.

7. To improve my vocabulary. FAIL. I think. I still rely on Thesaurus pretty heavily. Though it’s mostly to make sure I’m choosing the right word in the right context. I also find I rely on it more heavily when I have back-to-back reviews to write as I don’t want my word choices to be redundant even if I feel exactly the same way about two books. Though, while I still want to reach for the word “exciting” or “amazing” or “awesome” every single time, I do have other words that now pop into my head on their very own.

8. To learn to edit a.k.a. “enough is enough already.” FAIL. FAIL. FAIL. EPIC FAIL. My posts seem to have gotten longer. I’ve added more blogs where I can ramble on even more. And my reviews have doubled in length from what they were a year ago. While I do edit my Random Thoughts posts, as I tend to follow paths that lead me completely off topic, I can’t say I have made “my posts and reviews more concise” or that I “sum things up in quicker, more appealing ways.”

Even this post, in which I promised to only briefly look back, seems to go on endlessly….

So…. I had some wins, but mostly fails.

I’m not too disappointed in not meeting my reading goal, because as a blogger with multiple blogs and a reviewer who takes hours to write each review and post, I realized over the summer that my original goal was unrealistic. I’ve set a much more realistic goal for 2012, however.

I would have liked to attend BEA last year, but there’s always this year.

And I would have loved to have more time for improvement, both in my writing and my technical ability. But I can only do so much, and hopefully I’ll have more time this year to become a better blogger and reviewer.

***

…Looking ahead

As I’ve spent a lot of time already thinking about goals when I had my one year blogoversary back in November, I won’t be listing them again. They haven’t changed that much in the past month-and-a-half, so talking about them would be way too redundant.

So, just like last year, I’ve come up with a few New Year’s Resolutions.

My 2011 New Year’s Resolutions

1. To write more reviews. I would like to get back to having at least two reviews posted on the blog each week. Not one. The main purpose of blogging is reading and reviewing books, so I’d like to see at least two reviews each week on the blog.

2. To be more timely with reviews. I have fallen way behind schedule on my reviews and I want to work hard at sticking to a schedule in the new year.

3. To be more responsive to emails. I am terrible about reading or responding to email messages. If something deserves a response, even if I can’t immediately respond, I want to respond within a week.

4. To respond to comments. In the last quarter of the year I almost completely stopped responding to comments because I just had no time to do so. I want to get back in the habit of responding to comments.

5. To conduct more interviews. I love having variety on the blog. Having the same features week after week loses some of its thrill after a year. The idea of mixing things up every so often with an author or character interview sounds like a lot of fun…. okay, fun to have, not fun to do – those things are nerve-wracking!

6. To try something new on the blog. While I’ve tried out weekly memes and my first blog hop on some of my other blogs, I haven’t really tried out something new on this one. I don’t think I’d want to start a meme – because those are HARD work, just participating in this top ten event this year was not easy – but maybe host a reading challenge or work with a couple other bloggers to put something together…

7. To read more books for me. In the past year I missed out on a lot of books for series I love because I overcommitted myself. That can’t continue. Especially with a ton of 2011 debut authors with sequels coming out that I don’t want to miss. One or two “me” books a month is a must for 2012.

8. To attend more bookish events. Whether it’s RT, ALA or BEA, I must attend at least one event this year. I really would like to go to BEA just once, but I also want to attend ALA. But as they’re so close together it might not be feasible. I’m considering RT even though it means a trip to Chicago. And then there’s Leah Clifford’s InsaniTea party which sounds totally wicked.

And I’m adding in two more non-book blogger resolutions this year…

9. To write. I participated in NaNoWriMo this year, and while I didn’t win, I feel like I did. I started writing. Something I haven’t done in ages. And I like it. So, in my spare time (when’s that again?) I would love to see what happens.

10. To stop talking only about books. Apparently that’s all I can talk about. It’s getting super, super old with everyone I know in real life. I must find something else to talk about aside from books.

So, there you have it. This “short” post isn’t so short. But that’s typical of me. And of course I can’t leave without one last thought….

***

In parting…

I’m thrilled to say that I’ve been a blogger for all of 2011 and look forward to the idea that I’ll be one for all of 2012. There were a few days and weeks where I thought of giving it all up, when the drama got to be too much and the cost seemed to outweigh any benefit. Even as recently as this past month.

But I’m excited to begin this New Year with a fresh outlook, new hope, and a much better understanding of what it means to be a blogger.

So, here’s to only looking forward, because you can’t change the past. And here’s to hoping that maybe there will be that Zombie Apocalypse I’ve been hearing so much about.

If you’ve created an end of the year/start of the new year post, I’d love to check it out. Feel free to leave a link in the comments!

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