This time last year, I made five New Year’s Resolutions here at Fantasy Author’s Handbook, in the hopes that making them public would help me keep them. I also made the promise that I would come back and report on my progress, which I did mid-year, and now here we are at the end of 2010 and the time has come for a final accounting of last year’s resolutions, and a new batch for 2011.

I will be healthier.

Ugh. Really? Do I have to start out with a total failure?

Yes, I guess I do.

I am no healthier or thinner than I was this time last year. All attempts ended in tragic failure. There’s just no excuse. This one stays on the list for 2011.

Moving on . . .

I will be more positive.

Looking back at my May 18 follow-up post, I’m surprised that at that time I thought I’d failed at this goal. I was in a pretty bad place then, wasn’t I?

Can I just say, first off, that 2010 ended up really being a crap year? The job that I used to love but had grown to hate came to an end, which was both good and bad. We had a death in the family. There were other challenges. But anyway, let’s just say I am delighted that in the next few days we will be putting 2010 behind us. It was not an easy year in which to be more positive, people, but despite my gloomy, pre-layoff assessment, of all of last year’s resolutions, I’m most happy to report my success at carrying out this one.

Believe it or not, sitting here in the last week of 2010, I have a much, much more positive outlook on the future than I did a year ago. That doesn’t mean that the last year was all sunshine and rainbows, but I’m extremely happy with the way I rolled with that crappy year.

The lesson I think I finally learned in 2010: You can’t control what other people do, or what random happenstance throws at you, but you can control your reaction to those things.

Here’s to an even more positive 2011.

I will fucking swear less, goddamn it.

Another total fucking failure.

But now it’s starting to rub off on my sixteen-year-old. I have to stop swearing, and I will in 2011.

What more can I say?

I will not let the garage get that messy again.

Success! Not that the garage has remained in a constant state of sanitary perfection, but at no point in 2010 did it get to the episode-of-Hoarders state it was in last year. I’m back to the point where cleaning the garage takes way less time, and happens three times as often. In the battle of me vs. me-being-lazy-about-cleaning-the-garage, I win.

But I still haven’t found that gnome miniature.

A story for another day.

I will watch less TV.

Fail? I think? I don’t know for sure, but I think I might have ended up watching more or less as much TV in 2010 as I did in 2009—more, probably, since I’ve been spending more time at home since June. But strangely, I feel that TV has become less intrusive, as though it’s impinging less on other parts of my life than it used to.

Do I have to start tracking how much time I spend in front of the tube now? That seems like time and mental energy wasted, but the exercise might be eye-opening. I bet I watch more TV than the average American, who probably watches too much TV.

I feel the OCD in me bubbling to the surface. Must . . . have . . . TV . . . log . . .

God help me.

I will read more.

Ah, a totally unqualified success! I could not possibly be happier to report that the seemingly lofty goal I set last year of doubling the number of books I read in a year from 19 to 40 has resulted in a perfect success. I have read 40 books this year, not including the 11 I started reading but didn’t like enough to finish.

What’s particularly cool about that is that I wasn’t even aware of the total as I went along. It wasn’t as though I realized in November that I still had ten books to go so read like a madman to try to get to 40, or realized in August that I’d read 40 so stopped reading. I just added them up this morning and there it was—promise kept.

Always nice to end on an up note.

So what of 2011?

I need to keep two of these resolutions on the books until I actually achieve them: I will be healthier, and I will fucking swear less, goddamn it.

These are achievable goals, totally within my power, with no one and nothing working against me. There’s no reason I can’t make these happen.

If I can read more than 40 books in 2011 that would be great, but at the very least I’ll stick to that number. I’m a fundamentally more positive person now and if the last half of 2010 couldn’t beat that out of me, I’d hate to think what would have to come my way in 2011 to change that. If anything, early indications are that 2011 will be a great year (no spoilers!) so, yeah, good for me. The garage thing was easy. That’s in hand for 2011. Watch less TV? Okay—please don’t make me track that. I may not be able to climb out of that OCD spiral. Let’s just say that if I can keep reading twice as many books as before, and can achieve this year’s new resolutions, chances are it will be because I watched less TV.

Where does that leave me for 2011 then?

Well, let’s trim down from five resolutions for 2010 to four for 2011:

I will be healthier.

I will fucking swear less, goddamn it.

And . . .

I will play more games.

You may or may not be surprised to hear that people who work at Wizards of the Coast spend a certain amount of time playing games. Toward the end of my time there I was playing D&D twice a week, spent some time playing the anniversary edition of Axis & Allies, participated in a Gamma World play test (that was fun!), and so on. Since June, not so much with the games, and that’s no good. Gotta get back to games. Video games, mostly, maybe. I need to get back in touch with the video game universe. I got a big, expensive, groovy board game called Smallworld for Christmas, and bought one (Risk: Halo Wars) for my son. We need to play those. Let’s do this instead of watching TV.

I will write more.

You’d think this last year—well, the last half of the last year at least—would have been terrifically productive on that score, and I guess I did write some, maybe a little more, but not nearly enough. Was I just working on the wrong thing? Did I not have the proper deadline hanging over my head? Did I just not have the right idea? Maybe those things, and maybe just laziness? Gee, I hope that’s not it.

But whatever the reason for a less-than-optimally-productive 2010 I’m going to apply my butt to the chair in front of the computer, or more accurately, apply the laptop to my lap wherever I happen to be, and get some writing done.

Specific goals? Why not?

I will finally finish the urban fantasy I’ve been noodling away at for the last year.

I will write one more novel in 2011.

I will write one complete screenplay in 2011.

I will complete at least one work-for-hire project in 2011.

And that’s a minimum.

Time to get back to doing what I do best.

I hereby promise, with the blogosphere as my witness, that I will redouble my efforts to achieve these goals, before this new year is out, of landing a man on the moon and . . . wait, no, of not being a big fat potty-mouth who talks about video games but doesn’t play then, and talks about writing but doesn’t actually do it. Maybe we’ll get to the moon in 2012. Baby steps, people.

Baby steps.


—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.
This entry was posted in Books, Dungeons & Dragons, Publishing Business, Science Fiction & Fantasy Novels, SF and Fantasy Authors, Writing, Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to RESOLUTIONS, 2011

  1. Rajiv says:

    Interesting article Philip 🙂

  2. Zuzana says:

    I like your resolutions! I don’t set resolutions anymore, not at New Year’s … just seems too ominous to me. New Year’s resolutions are about as cheerful as a bucket list as far as I’m concerned. But I like yours. Can I just copy them for my own? 😉

  3. Agonyzer says:

    Best of luck, my friend! Keep us posted.

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