For Everyone Who Reads…. MWF 2015

This weekend has been all about the 2015 Melbourne Writers Festival for me.* I was, I have to admit, a reluctant returner to the MWF fold, after a few years of me and the schedule not really meeting in the middle, overseas travel, and also at least one hissy fit at not being able to operate the website.** Continue reading

Melbourne International Film Festival 2015 – The Year of the Documentary

Another weekend, much later in the year since my last entry on this blog, finds me yet again at my desk with a faithful cup of coffee and the echoes of the work weeks hangover in my head.*

The not quite finished 2015 Melbourne International Film Festival has been taking up a fair chunk of my free time over the last two weeks. As it is one of my favourite (or perhaps my favourite full stop) Melbourne Festivals this is a thing made of happiness. Continue reading

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2015

As part of my 2015 Culture Goals (see my previous post if this is a bit mystifying)  I would like to complete 12 of the  Book Riot Read Harder Challenges for 2015. I am not sure why I decided on 12 – I was probably thinking something along the lines of one per month. That said I haven’t really looked that closely at the challenges so I thought I might write out the ones I would like to do and then I can compare at the end of the year what I actually did (and perhaps venture which books in my TBR might work with this as I am hoping to be able to draw the titles from the TBR rather than find new titles).

   

 

Wright, Alexis_cover image

 

1. A collection of short stories

So my TBR has several different options for this but two titles immediately jump to mind

The Mammoth Book of Apocalyptic SF Edited by Mike Ashley

I am actually already three quarters of the way through this anthology so it is pushing a little to claim it as a 2015 completion but so far I have really enjoyed this SF collection and I am interested to see what the last quarter of short stories are. I have a theory that I much prefer SF in short story form and fantasy in novella/novel form.

Yellow Cake by Margo Lanagan

Not much more really needs to be said beyond Margo Lanagan. She is probably my favourite short story writer and her short story Singing my sister down is my all time favourite short story ever. So really it is a little embarrassing that I haven’t read this collection yet.

2. A book that is written by someone whose gender is different to your own.

The Wise Mans Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

Both of these are on my tbr and keep getting recommended to me or buzzed about in various places so I must complete one of these in 2015 (and they both helpfully fit into a book riot category).

3. A YA novel

We were liars by E. Lockhart

Is on my kindle and I have been meaning to read it for ages.

4. An audiobook

– As I have an audible subscription this will not be difficult at all but let’s just say Royal Blood by Rhys Bowen which is the fourth book in The Royal Spyness Series. This story is a light and fluffy crime series about the rather sweet if naive Lady Georgiana in the pre-world war II upper class British society. Perfectly suited for listening to when I am doing data entry or exercise and need to occupy some but not all of my brain.

5. A romance novel

The King by JR Ward. The Black Dagger Brotherhood still qualifies as romance….. I think….. it is definitely a guilty pleasure series for me so if I decide against romance I can switch this to the guilty pleasure challenge.

6. A book written by someone over 65

Death Comes to Pemberley by PD James

Again I am already part way through this book but I started several years ago so imagine I will have to start at the beginning again. And then I can watch the tv series – finally.

7. A book that was originally published in another language

So I have technically completed this challenge with Superzelda by Tiziana Lo Porto but I want to use this title for my personal graphic novel challenge so I will hopefully read The Key by Junichiro Tanizaki. Which is a very slender volume from the Vintage Red Cover range.

8. A graphic novel, memoir or collection of comics

I have so already completed this Challenge! Ms Marvel Volume 1 by G Willow Wilson. Thank you Book Riot Quarterly #5.

I really enjoyed Ms Marvel – it was a nice fast paced read with an absorbing story. And I like Kamala Khan she is so easy to relate to. I am hoping to read more of this series.

9. A book published this year

– Prudence by Gail Carriger. The beginnings of a new series following the daughter of the heroine of the Parasol Protectorate, Alexia. I am hoping for lots of appearances of Lord Akeldama and lots of adventures. (Not yet actually on my tbr pile as it hasn’t been released yet but lets be honest I know that I will buying this so may as well accept it and make it work for me).

10. A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture

– The Swan Book by Alexis Wright. This book was shortlisted for the Stella prize in 2014 and I really want to read it. (I don’t actually own this yet but it has been on my radar enough of late that I can see it being a purchase that slips through).

11. A book set in Asia

The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki. Languishing on my tbr pile since late 2013/early 2014 this book really needs to be read. And then I can watch the review videos I have seen on booktube. (Also only on pulling this book off the tbr did I discover that it was written by the same authro as The Key).

12. A book that is a retelling of a classic story

– Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm by Phillip Pullman. So I think technically these are a new translation not a retelling so I may need to rethink this at some point.

I will be really interested to see how many of these titles will get completed in 2015 as I have found prescribing myself things to read has a high tendency to backfire. Though this does feel a little like an exercise for re-invigorating love for the titles in my tbr.

So who else is aiming to complete some of the 2015 Book Riot Read Harder Challenges? And which ones with what books?

Hello 2015………. Goals and Resolutions Oh My!

I am planning at some point to post an actual review of my reading in 2014 but my last post went in its own little direction so the 2014 reading post will have to wait. For me this is the end of my first official week of 2015 as the days before I head back to work for the New Year exist out of time in a strange way, not really part of the year before or the year ahead, so the reality of New Year only hits when I swipe into my office.

2015 is going pretty well so far, still managed to get sucked into working some really long days at work, so that’s started already. And this is probably only going to get harder to control, as due to funding issues, I am working for two different projects/supervisors with the ability to time manage entirely being placed at my feet. I don’t mind the work so much but it is the fact that by the time I make it home I am so exhausted I can’t do much more than dinner, shower, and if I’m lucky read. And this leaves a lot of pressure on weekends to get all the external non-work stuff done.

Ok, anyways let us get back on topic as to what this post is meant to be discussing. Namely my creative and cultural goals/resolutions for 2015.

I really enjoy setting goals/resolutions every year. I try to follow the SMART goal setting system (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely). I have six goal fields, or areas of life, that are important to me. For each field I have an overall aim of what I want out of this field for my life and a set of things I would like to achieve in the coming year. I also write out what I need to do to make this happen. As you can imagine I do end up with a rather lengthy document but I do love headings and dotpoints.

I’ve been doing the particular system (with refinements) I have for a few years now and I think it really helps me to go into the New Year with some perspective on what I want out of all the aspects of my life. And when I reviewed 2014’s master list I was pleasantly surprised by how many of the points I had chipped away at over the year and also how most of the points were still relevant. I still have a long way to go before I achieve all that I set out to do (but then my experience tells me that this is true for everyone I know) but I like having a written record of what I thought of as important and what I did or didn’t do to achieve in any given year.

For 2015 I have included a blanket aim to try and be more consistent with how I work towards things. As I tend to make this awesome document at the beginning of the year and then subconsciously achieve the things on the list, rather than review them regularly and so actively work on the things I should/need to do but am avoiding. And also new things come up throughout the year that I want to work towards, which I would like to incorporate into my goals, but as there is only a finite amount of time, I’d like to be able to make more conscious decisions to put things on hold or change my direction on certain fronts.

The two  goal fields relevant to this little corner of the internet are ‘Culture Goal’ and ‘Creative Goal’.

The ‘Culture Goal‘ came from a reflection I made several years ago about the person I had wanted to be as a teenager, and the experiences I wanted that person to have, compared to what I felt I had become (one day I will write about the wasteland that was a large chunk of the middle of my 20’s). And though my teenage daydreams were both unrealistic, and a bit pretentious, I did feel that some of the things that I most enjoyed doing had fallen by the wayside (for a number of reasons). So I created this goal field to spur me into, excuse the bogan terminology, ‘gaining some culture’ and not just passively but in a participatory and reflective manner (ok so some of this goal is still pretentious, and also very white middle class).

So applying the SMART principles for 2015 my ‘Culture Goal’ is the following:

Reading

  • Read 55 books/25,000 pages
    • Write a paragraph blurb on all the books I read in Goodreads.
  • Start making videos for youtube again – 1 per month
    • Comment on other booktubers channels regularly
  • Write 12 book reviews (a friend of mine run a review website and I have been promising to write some reviews for an embarrassing amount of time).
  • Read 5 non-fiction books/ 5 modern classics/ 5 graphic novels/ 5 novels in translation
  • Do 12 things off the Book Riot Read Harder List
  • Reduce TBR
  • Read and vote in the 2015 Hugo awards
  • Continue as a short story reviewer – review 52 stories in 2015 (this is for a sci fi and fantasy fiction magazine and has been lots of fun so far).

Concerts/Festivals

  • Melbourne Theatre Company and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra subscriptions
  • See a new to me Shakespeare performed live.
  • See at least one National Theatre live at Nova
  • Attend Melbourne White Night Festival
  • See something at the following festivals – Melbourne International Film Festival, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Melbourne Writers Festival
  • Continue fortnightly movie tradition (we have a local independent cinema two blocks from my Melbourne apartment)
  • Go to a concert/art exhibition/play every quarter (not included in the above)
  • Write a sentence blurb on each of these experiences at least in my journal, if not on my blog.

The ‘Creative Goal‘ is all about my creative self expression and also trying to gain some solid skills in some of the crafts that I enjoy (again another area of life in which consistency is difficult to achieve, and it is very telling in both my writing and creative endeavors).

So applying the SMART principles for 2015 my ‘Creative Goal’ is the following:

Visual Art Projects

  • Complete Dr Who Scarf/Blanket
  • Complete William Morris Cross-Stitch (without having a breakdown)
  • Start mushroom cross-stitch
  • Submit entry to Linden PostCard show

Writing

  • Finish a draft of ‘the current novel’ (100,000 words (of which I have 65,000))
    • Workshop as long piece in March
  • Complete Camp Nano and Nanowrimo 2015
  • Write and publish 12 short pieces of fanfiction
  • Redraft short story (working title the Mistress and the Maid) and send out for possible publication
  • Complete story for my writing group anthology
  • Write serious chunks of five new (short) stories (or at least play with some new story ideas).
  • Be a fully present and unflappable member of my writing group
    • Make sure to read and review well all pieces submitted
    • Turn up to as many meetings as possible
    • Workshop twice in 2015

General Creative-ness

  • Schedule weekly craft and writing times
    • Organise work schedule
    • Organise writers den
    • Organise crafting supplies
    • Stay on top of hoarding tendencies
  • Blog Monthly on creative blog and Green Eyed Gal Reads
  • Keep personal journal on my creative process (and life generally).

Realistically I will not achieve all of these things, but then on the flip side I will do things that I haven’t even heard of, or thought about, but this is sort of how I would like my 2015 to shape up.