Tuesday, January 3, 2017


2016 was one hell of a year, huh? In many ways it was much like any other year in the sense that on an individual micro level we've all had our own challenges and joys and successes and losses that really don't make much of a difference in the greater world - but in our small worlds, they are big and important. Even though something may only impact us and those around us, those things still matter. Whatever it is, whether it is the loss of a parent, the change of a job, the birth of a child, the challenges of moving across the world for work, and the small little bits of perfection and despair that make up the shape of our lives.

I think that regardless of the larger changes going on in the world, the simple change of the calendar when we tear off the last month of 2016 and with a sense of wonder look at the fresh beginning of 2017 and think "things can be better, right?" Even though it is the difference of one day, perhaps taking that one day allows for the opportunity of a new perspective on how and who we'd like to be.

Last year we did not run our Resolutions article until late February and we decided that it was funnier that way. Long after many people had already given up their resolution to go to the gym more often and lose weight, we were just setting out on our journey of being resolute in the face of a new year two months gone.

This year we have once again decided to look inward and share some of the things we, the Nerds of a Feather flock, would like to change and accomplish in 2017. Our resolutions range from the standard resolutions regarding all the things we'd like to read and write to the deeply personal and profound.

Though resolutions may be funnier in February, we hope that you still enjoy this glimpse into our lives.

 Image Credit: Bill Watterson - Dec 31,1989

Charles Payseur:
My 2017 resolutions probably look a lot like my 2016 in that I want to review everything that I read. It's something that I've struggled with for longer-length works recently but I'm hoping to catch up at some point. Along those lines, I want to read more of my TBR stack for novel-length works and I want to read more anthologies in 2017. I'm really good at keeping up with short fiction, but original anthologies have been tripping me up. Luckily, I have a few really good ones all ready to go. Otherwise, my main goal is not to slip too far behind—to continue my output of reviews and somehow stay sane. You know, easy stuff…

My 2017 resolution (s) is to read more, but also to re-read more while thinking critically about what makes me love the stories I do (which seems important as I finish revising the novel). I also want to see more movies, a love I've sort of abandoned the past few years due to busyness.

English Scribbler:
1. Ignore the real world and attempt to learn to love epic and mediaeval style) fantasy novels again, after losing affection for them in my twenties (which is quite a long time ago), starting with that Fifth Season everyone loves.
2. Try to understand the real world better and swap sci-fi for non-fiction, beginning with Brexit: What The He'll Happens Now? by Ian Dunt
3. Walk more
4. More films, less TV. I've lost the temperament for two hour plus films and find comfort in episodic tv and need to reverse that in order to return to my first love
5. Write my first short story in five years

The G:
As a musician, I aim to finish the two albums and two EPs I've started. As a blogger, I aim to explore more aspects of the music/fiction nexus--the common themes and divergent approaches of my favorite media, and how each can help us cope with the often-disturbing reality that we are enmeshed in. And as a reader, I hope to just read better than I did last year. I want to read more new releases, so I don't get left out of important conversations about genre; but I also want to read stuff that isn't new or isn't, strictly speaking, genre. I'd like to read something that jars me out of my comfort zone, and something that grapples with fundamental questions of where we are and where we are headed. I want to read at least one as-of-yet-unread genre classic and at least one new work of mimetic fiction. And of course I want to continue/finish all the series I've started! Is that enough?
As always, I'd like to read all the books. That's the answer I want to give, but as I was compiling this article I was inspired by Vance's resolution. I'm not sure I'm going to be as eloquent as he was, so I'm going to tell you that my general resolution is to be less of a dick. It's part of the generic "you should be a better person, Joe", but it's actually a little more specific than that. It's about being more thoughtful towards others, more respectful, more responsible. It's about striving to be the best father to my son as possible, the best husband to my wife that I can, to be better. I think we're all a work in progress and that there are always opportunities to be better and more considerate, to make our worlds and our neighborhoods better places, bit by tiny bit. And, with enough bits, we may have achieved something significant. Somehow, I feel that I'm making a poor man's version of the Rocky IV speech "If I can change, and you can change...we all can change!", which sounds very trite when I type it out. But I don't know how to effect large scale change. I do know how to try to model the sort of man I'd like my son to become. So I'll start there.

I also want to read all the books.

Here are my resolutions:
1. Play at least 10 board games that I own and haven't played
2. Go back and read a lot of Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina, Saga, and Pride of Baghdad)
3. Finish Final Fantasy XV
4. Read more all-ages graphic novels
5. Provide blog coverage for SXSW gaming, PAX South, and SDCC.

In no particular order, here are my goals for 2017:
  • Seek out/read/review more works in translation
  • Be more active - get the juices flowing
  • Buy a house/land
  • Start submitting short fiction for attempts at publication
  • Read, and share, more essays to broaden my worldview and understanding
1) Bring back the TBR list - My resolution last year was to watch more speculative TV. This was a really easy resolution to fulfill given the wide array of fantastic SF/F shows in 2016, but it came at the expense of me reading. In fact, I read so little last year that I never even had the enthusiasm to create a TBR list. This is unacceptable, so for 2017 I pledge to refill the TBR pile and read at least one book a month (while still keeping up with my shows).

2) Get more people screaming - Another thing I neglected in 2016 was think pieces for NOAF. In the current charged political and social climate motivation to speak out should come easy, but for me the opposite was true. After some soul searching, I've decided that the relative public silence on my part is due to an unwillingness to accept the reality of the situation, both in America and around the world. This is even more acceptable. To quote my literary hero, Ani Difranco: "silence is violence in women and poor people, if more people were screaming then I could relax." 
My resolutions tend toward the abstract. After years of writing family comedy screenplays, my resolution was "Embrace the darkness," so I wrote my "The Ghost of John Henry" album. Not exactly a ray of sunshine. The year I resolved to reduce cognitive dissonance, I had to stop watching football.

If I'm honest, I have a complicated life. I don't think this makes me exceptional; I think it makes me very average. But a complex personal life is, God bless it, one of the joys that makes sci-fi/fantasy so welcoming: I get to escape into an entirely other reality. But if 2016 has taught me anything, it's that we have to confront our actual reality with spines of steel.

So my resolution going forward is to make myself uncomfortable. I want to read books like IT CAN'T HAPPEN HERE and HELL'S ANGELS that take a hard look at the American landscape, and though I'm a folk singer who has written obliquely political songs like "Just to Win the Fight" and "In the End" that have invited unity, I have also written a hatful of more overtly political, potentially divisive songs that make me nervous about recording and releasing them.

So my resolution is to embrace openness, even when it hurts. I want to read books that challenge me, and as an artist I want to create works that challenge others, even if it limits whatever potential audience I may have. I think that, as self-proclaimed nerds, we've all stood up against judgment for things we love and to which we've held fast. Now that dignity and equality for different groups of friends, rather than for genres and for fandoms, are the things up for grabs in the larger culture, I resolve to show the same commitment. If I can.

POSTED BY: Joe Sherry - Writer / Editor at Adventures in Reading since 2004. Nerds of a Feather contributor since 2015, editor since 2016. Minnesotan.