It is incredibly hard to believe that the holidays have come and gone and tomorrow begins a new semester. It seems like the first week of Christmas break is spent preparing for Christmas, and the last week of break is spent cleaning it up. While second semester is about three weeks longer in terms of classroom hours, it is somehow broken into more manageable timeframes. We ease into the semester by having teachers report tomorrow for an in-service day, but students not returning to the classrooms until Wednesday. After a week and a half we will celebrate MLK Jr on Monday, January 17. A month later we will celebrate President’s Day on Monday, February 21, and then less than a month after that will be spring break. Can you tell that I am already counting down until Summer Vacation???
I have spent the better part of this week reflecting on the past year. I decided that I want to live 2011 with purpose and attempted to develop a schedule that would help me to accomplish that goal; and I reviewed my love/hate relationship with challenges and decided to secretly participate in a few challenges of my own design. I had one follower comment that she was tired of reflecting and ready to delve into the New Year. I am ready as well — but I have one more thought on the past before I fling myself into the future.
While my track record for 2010 reading challenges was abysmal (I only completed one and several I did not read a single book), I did actually read a LOT – probably more than I have read in several years. The problem was that I had a significant shift in interest – from predominantly fiction literature (contemporary fiction and mysteries) to predominantly non-fiction and literature within the genre of my writing. I had NO idea that 2010 would be the year that I discovered a love for writing. It just rather evolved – a large part in thanks to the Bread Loaf School of English course I took the summer of 2009, but also due in part to the inspirational reading on J.Kaye’s writing blog.
By mid spring my reading focus had shifted and I found myself reading a number of non-fiction books related to art, and Impressionism in particular. This was due to the fact that I was inspired to write an historical fiction novel (a genre that I have never read) that encompasses the art scene of Paris in the late 1870s. I love research and allowed myself to delve knee deep into this subject matter. I read countless books and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The storyline is coming along and I hope that it will be my NaNoWriMo piece for 2011. There is still a lot of research that needs to be done, not to mention a major conflict that needs to be developed, which I will probably focus on during the summer break.
About this same time I also began to develop an interest in photography – not as a memory keeping device (which I have always done) but as an artistic expression. This led me to research many, many books on photographic composition as well as lighting and exposure. I reviewed a few of these books, but I have probably read close to thirty on the subject and purchased about ten. This will continue to be a focus in 2011. I hope to participate in the 365 project (a photo a day to chronicle my life) — but knowing me, I will adapt this to a 52 project (a minimum of a photo a week). I hope to become well acquainted with PhotoShop Elements 9 and begin to manipulate digital photos into works of personal art. This will be ongoing, but it is an interest that I am anxious to pursue.
By late summer I knew that I was going to be teaching a creative writing course (it was originally supposed to be a team teaching experience, but since the other teacher moved away, I was going to teach it solo) as well as attempting to write my novel in a month. This led me to read several books on creative writing – everything from travel writing, to authors’ memoirs, to the craft of writing. I became almost obsessed with the concept of reading about writing. I have now acquired quite a number of books on this topic in my personal library and hope to organize the prompts in such a way that I can find inspiration to write on some topic every day of the year. I want to try to focus my attention on the act of writing, and worry less about the quantity or quality. Hopefully that will come with time.
So as I am ready to delve into the New Year – I must consider my past and realize that my reading life will follow its own course and will bring me pleasure. I hope that 2011 can be a year of reading balance between fun fictional reads, as well as informative non-fiction ones.