With the new year almost upon us, here are five resolutions for 2010.

I will be healthier.

I almost typed: “I will lose weight,” but that’s really not the point. As I sit here today I weigh about 350 pounds. I’m tall—between 6’ 3” and 6’ 4”—but 350 would be a good weight for someone in maybe the 8’ 6” range, so no hiding that one. On the moon I would weigh about 58 pounds. How ’bout that for a rationalization? I would still be fat, on the moon, just maybe a bit more bouncy.

The reason I’m fat is simple. I take in more calories than I expend in exercise—like, lots more. This makes me feel bad, and not psychologically. I love myself. I rock. But my feet are killing me. Why? Not because I just walked a mile but more like because I didn’t just walk a mile. Holding up 350 pounds for any length of time makes my feet hurt. My feet were designed for more like 250 pounds, based on my Herculean, Spartan frame.

I’m tired all the time, too. I get sick too easily. I huff and puff at the slightest exertion. This is not good.

So starting January 1st I will start exercising five days a week, again, and go back to eating fresh fruit and vegetables, more fish and less meat, and once a week a day with no meat at all.

I will be more positive.

Believe it or not, I’m not the cheeriest guy in the world. In fact, I tend to take things too personally, leaping to the conclusion that everyone is out to get me when really they’re just stupid.

But wait, isn’t that me being negative again? Maybe they aren’t stupid. Maybe they just have a different idea, a different set of priorities, a different expected outcome. Maybe theirs is better than mine. I know that seems impossible to imagine, but I have to start opening myself up to that possibility.

As it stands I walk around all day ready to rip someone a new one, and since I can’t do that I end up internalizing a lot of anger and frustration that will surely manifest as some kind of tumor, if it hasn’t already.

Time to stop watching the news, be less judgmental, and see the positive in the world around me. There must be something positive out there, somewhere. My mission, find it.

I will fucking swear less, goddamn it.

Who, besides my mother, said, “Profanity is the crutch of the mental cripple?” I Googled it but didn’t come up with anything. Maybe she originated that, though I doubt it. I learned all my non-hip hop swears from my mother, who is kinda like the dad in A Christmas Story, but less cheery.

I swear all the time now, even when I don’t want to. I swear at football games, though in my defense I’ve been following the Seahawks, so what the fuck do you expect? I swear at the dinner table and in meetings at work. Eventually I will swear in my kids’ classrooms, at a wedding or a funeral, or while accepting the Nobel Peace Prize. “I would like to thank the shit out of the Nobel committee, you are some awesome motherfuckers!”

I don’t think I’m going to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize anytime soon, but you never know, and I’d like to be ready if it happens.

I will stop swearing, after just this last one:


I will not let the garage get that messy again.

A couple weeks ago I let you in on Dizes Dager, a work of timeless genius that was rotting away in a box in my garage. We cleaned the garage and so far it still looks pretty good. When I pull my car in, I can open the passenger side door. That’s a huge change.

I used to be pretty good about doing a thorough, massive garage cleaning twice a year, but in 2009 that just seemed to fade away. I blamed it on writing a book, being too busy at work, and other stuff, and maybe it’s part of the next resolution, too, but whatever I did instead, I resolve in 2010 to stay on top of the garage. It was awful.

I will watch less TV.

I like television. I don’t mind saying that. There’s a post here about how watching Mad Men led me to The Prisoner. I don’t regret watching either of those shows. But I do regret every second I sat through The Real Housewives of Orange County. I wish there was some way to selectively erase that experience from my brain. It did nothing to make my life better, even providing passing entertainment, which does have value. It was just awful, and it wasn’t the only show or movie I sat through that was just awful.

I will still watch Big Love when it comes back next month, and that new Syfy show looks interesting, and Last Restaurant Standing is starting up again on BBC America, but I will not let those shows or others rule my life. I am fully equipped with DVR and On Demand. TV now functions on my schedule. I’ll get to the stuff I really want to see, but I resolve to pass on all of the rest.

I will read more.

I read for a living, so this might seem like a strange resolution, but I mentally separate the stuff I read for work and the stuff I read for pleasure. Not counting anything I had to read for work, I read only 19 books in 2009. That’s just deplorable. Sure, some of them, like Laura Resnick’s The White Dragon, were pretty long, but still, that’s just awful (not Laura’s book, which was brilliant, but that it was one of only 19 books I read in 2009).

When you combine that with the fact that I continue to be a compulsive book buyer, it means I live in a house full of unread books, unread mostly because I’m staring slack-jawed at bad reality TV or news that just makes me feel bad about the human race—or, more accurately, worse about the human race. I’ve also been sleeping way too much, mostly because I’m too fat and out of shape and TV is boring me to sleep.

On December 29, 2006 I sat down and counted my unread books: 749. At that time I was averaging only 23 books a year, which meant that as of the last week of 2006 I had more than 32 years’ worth of books waiting for me, and I’ve bought more in the last three years than I’ve read.

I resolve to read at least twice as many books in 2010. I’m shooting for forty.

Follow my progress on Twitter and here at this blog.

Here’s to a thinner, healthier, cleaner, more literary, less potty-mouthed 2010—Cheers!

—Philip Athans

About Philip Athans

Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Writing Monsters. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, ( is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilAthans.
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5 Responses to RESOLUTIONS, 2010

  1. Matt James says:

    Fuck that. Cursing is what makes us strong 😉

    Best of luck, Phil. I will be following you see monitor your progress!

  2. My mom’s version of the proverb was, “Swearing is the sign of a limited vocabulary.” That gets some good hits on Google, including a Facebook group.

    Hey, Phil, any chance of setting up an RSS feed for your blog?

  3. Pingback: FOLLOWING UP « Fantasy Author's Handbook

  4. Pingback: DE-RE-PRIORITIZING READING | Fantasy Author's Handbook

  5. Pingback: READ MORE…BUT NOT AT ALL COST | Fantasy Author's Handbook

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