Anyone who says "this year is gonna be my year" is calling down the devil
Happy new year, y’all. And happy Friday! I got back last night from a long trip to Houston for the holidays in which nothing went as expected. My entire family (except my dad) got COVID. We cancelled the big Christmas celebration at our house twice as a result—can’t celebrate when three out of four people are coughing like there’s no tomorrow. As a result we didn’t see family as much as we wanted, and I missed connecting with friends I had been looking forward to seeing for ages.
That’s life, though, right? Post-pandemic—well, mid-pandemic, as our experience with the ‘rona demonstrates. You make a plan, and life throws something at you that you didn’t anticipate. In these strange years post-Trump, mid-pandemic, even planning out what to eat for a day feels like a monumental act of hubris. Still, it’s the New Year, a time of Resolutions and Plans and This Year Is Gonna Be Great, I know It.
So am I making new year’s resolutions? Kind of. There are things I want to accomplish this year, sure. The thing I want to build in 2023 is consistency: a routine for getting things done that helps me accomplish the things I want to accomplish. I don’t want to list all of those here, but here are the things I’d like to do more consistently:
Read. I really want to make deliberate time for reading this year in a way I didn’t last year. It’s not that I didn’t want to—it’s that I didn’t choose to, when my time could be spent doing other things like mindlessly scrolling for hours on TikTok. (That TikTok is a scourge. I’ll be putting time limits on it on my phone for this reason.) I’m starting off strong with Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell.
Write. I did pretty well on this last year—I rotated between writing partners and did sprints, and those were the periods of time I was able to be most productive. I’d like to do more of this and in a more structured way—perhaps it’s something I can include on the AFN Discord for people interested in participating? I want to use this platform, too, to talk more about the things I’m reading in more detail.
Move. I don’t want to frame movement as something weight-loss oriented, though I’d like to do that, too. But my default mode is sluggishness, and I find that my mood improves if I’ve gotten some movement into the day, whether that’s an actual workout or a walk to the park.
So, those are nice foundational things that I think will set me up for a good year. Of course, anything could happen—that’s why I’m trying not to go too crazy. What are you folks going to do this year? What do you want to be, do, see? Leave it in the comments or reply to the email!
WHAT I’M READING
Ocean’s Echo is a new novel from Everina Maxwell, a standalone to follow up 2021’s Winter’s Orbit. Winter’s Orbit was the story of an arranged gay marriage in a vast interplanetary empire, and had an interesting origin. I had read it in its original form years back on AO3 and hadn’t liked it—the original featured an extremely silly blackmail plotline in which Count Jainan was under the thumb of some obviously suspect family members. That was changed in the published version, and Winter’s Orbit was a fun, breezy read, with fun tropes (stranded in the wilderness! there was only one tent!) Ocean’s Echo, so far, contains much of the same: two people, thrown together by circumstances, with an obvious personal attraction that they’re working hard to deny. In this case, Tennal is a “reader:” someone who can read minds. He gets forcibly conscripted into the armed forces, and is paired with Surit, an “architect:” someone who can influence the minds of others. They’re forced to pretend to be synced—aka, mind-melded, but Surit refuses on the grounds that Tennal isn’t willing.
So far, Ocean’s Echo has the same kind of breezy pacing that made Winter’s Orbit so readable—I’m having a bit of a struggle with the breeziness with regard to Tennal’s forced conscription. Perhaps the book will deal with that later on, but so far I keep thinking “but how does he feel about this?” about every five pages. I’m also not entirely clear about the geography of the system that they’re working in, but I’m pretty sure that’s my fault for reading Winter’s Orbit so quickly and not keeping track of where things are.
THIS WEEK IN HOCKEY
The Capitals are on a record seven-game winning streak on the road, which is no mean feat considering they’re the oldest and most injury-prone team in the league. Alex Ovechkin is on a roll with 29 goals this season and 802 overall in his career, surpassed only by Wayne Gretzky.
This has been A Faster No, a dispatch on publishing, writing, books, and beyond. Is there something you’d like me to talk about? Leave it in the comments or reply to the email! You can support the newsletter here. If you purchase a book from any of the links to Bookshop.org I get a small commission at no cost to you. I am available for developmental editing and editorial assessment services via Reedsy.