How’d We Do? Resolution Project Wrap-Up 2017

In 2016, your Editor-in-Chic had what she thought was a brilliant idea: why not make New Year’s Resolutions, but make them spec-fic related? So I asked my contributors:

What’s something you’ve always wanted to read/watch/play/attend that you keep putting off?

A handful answered me, and so, The Resolution Project was born. The plan was to write up our own individual posts as we completed our resolutions, and at the end of the year, write the wrap-up. Those who completed their resolutions would summarize and provide a link to their original thoughts, whereas those who didn’t complete their resolution had to explain why not.

And this is that wrap-up! How did we do? Well, resolutions always look great on paper and sound totally feasible when first made, so it’s no surprise some of us completed our resolutions with flying colors, and others of us…. didn’t. So come take a look at what worked and what didn’t, and if you made any spec-fic resolutions of your own, please share them in the comments and tell us how it went!


Casey: At the end of 2016, I decided that I was going to do what I had never been able to do before in 2017. I was finally going to finish reading House of Leaves. I was certain that this was going to be my year. Sadly, I wasn’t able to accomplish this.

A huge problem was the book’s size. It’s not the biggest book ever, but it’s pretty heavy. Amazon states that the book weighs over two pounds. I was curious, so I got out my kitchen scale and started measuring to make comparisons. My Kindle, where I do most of my reading, weighs 189 grams. A standard mass market paperback weighs less at 177 grams. A nice trade paperback is quite a bit heavier at 318 grams. House of Leaves weighs in at a whopping 1067 grams. The weight of the book was a big problem for my current lifestyle.

The dimensions are also a problem. My Kindle is, by design, very easy to read, even one-handed. I frequently have to use this method, because my right arm likes to randomly give out on me. A mass market paperback is also fairly easy to handle. A trade paperback requires a little more attention, but is still easily manageable, especially as bedtime reading. I can’t read House of Leaves without sitting upright and resting the book in my lap. It’s not physically easy to read.

It also demands a lot of attention. I’m sure that you’ve heard of this novel before. You may have even heard that the book is printed in an extremely nontraditional format. Again, however, until you experience this for yourself, you cannot properly prepare for what is in store for you. Words are written upside down, backwards, diagonal, and any other way that you can think of. If you search Google for “House of Leaves pages,” you will see what I mean. It’s daunting. You must devote your whole attention to reading. This is a luxury that I rarely have. I have a spouse and three pets, not to mention a full-time day job, plus I spend a lot of my free time writing (both here on Speculative Chic and my own fiction). I steal little bits of time to read while I’m cooking or when I have five minutes while the dogs are outside. I read before bed, but I’m generally too tired to devote the time and attention that House of Leaves demands. I fell asleep reading it several times.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fascinating book. I enjoyed what little I was able to read of it. I’m not proud of myself, but I have to admit when I am defeated. I’d like to say that I’ll try again next year, but I’m not going to make that commitment right now.


J.L. Gribble: This year, I resolved to complete what I assumed was a pretty doable project. A certain book had been anchoring my To Be Read pile for over a decade, so I purchased the ebook (because I was not hauling around the enormous hardcover) and figured I’d finally tackle it. I put it off for a few months, because there are always shiny new books to read, but over the summer, I sat down with Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.

Alas, it didn’t go well. I gave up about a quarter of the way through the book, and then couldn’t even make it through the BBC miniseries adaptation. It wasn’t the length — I’ve devoured much longer works without blinking. It wasn’t the subject matter — historical urban fantasy is right up my alley. It wasn’t even the writing style, which was beautiful and well-crafted. But some things just don’t work for certain people, and this didn’t work for me, in any form.

I still highly recommend this book to anyone interested. But because there is so much else out there to read and watch, I doubt I’ll get back to this story anytime. At least it’s been moved to a proper bookshelf now, alphabetized and everything, instead of languishing in my office for another decade.


Sherry: The plan had been to read The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. One book. It’s not that hard. I had a whole year to read it. I procrastinated a fair bit. Read several books before I cracked the cover, and a couple more books in between. I didn’t finish my resolution. In all fairness, it isn’t like I didn’t try. I did. Three times. I just couldn’t finish it. You can read more details on my reasons for that here. I feel bad about it. I was really looking forward to this book. I really wanted to like it. But I can honestly say, it just wasn’t for me, and that’s OK. But just because it wasn’t for me, doesn’t mean it isn’t for you. There is a lot to love about it. As I said in my review:

If you love richly detailed fantasy worlds filled with emperors and courts, then I recommend this book. I really wish I was a different kind of reader, and that my experience with this book had been different. It was a great lesson for me, though, as a writer, to recognize the things I like and don’t like in the books I read.


Nancy: When I was eleven-years-old, my parents bought me and my brother an N64 game system, an action that still shocks me until this day. It didn’t take long before I was hooked on my first game: Mario 64. Over the next few years, I continued to fall in love with different N64 games: Mario Kart, Banjo-Kazooie, Yoshi’s Story, Super Smash Brothers, and various incarnation of Mario Party.

I loved playing games as a kid, but as an adult, it became less of a thing as my free time became more limited. Nowadays, my gaming time is more likely to be spent watching my husband play through parts of the latest Zelda game, rather then getting a chance to play one myself.

Which is why a video game goal for the 2017 Resolution Project ended up being such a great solution. My free time may be limited, but if by making playing through a game a specific goal, I’d feel less guilty about neglecting other areas of my life to finish it. And of course I had to chose The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, a title that I had fallen in love with during my N64 days, yet never had a chance to complete.

And let me tell you, playing Ocarina of Time was a blast. Sure, there were no surprises left for me in this almost twenty-year-old game, but still I found myself swept up in the story of Link, Zelda, and Ganondorf. The game was the right level of difficult for me as well. Sure, there were a couple bosses that it took MANY attempts to bring down (Bongo-Bongo, I’m looking at you!), but throughout the game, I felt challenged, not overwhelmed.

Playing Ocarina of Time as an adult gave me a new appreciation for the its characters, music, and game play. It also made me raise an eyebrow at a few things, such as the failed feminism of the Gerudo (you have one dude born in a society otherwise full of kick ass women and you automatically make him your leader? WTF ladies!). But despite its flaws, I really and truly enjoyed finally getting to finish a game from my adolescence, and I hope that I can find time to play other Zelda games in the future.

For my extended thoughts on my resolution, please check out my column: “The Flow of Time is Always Cruel”: On Finally Finishing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.


Carey: My resolution was to reread The Neverending Story by Michael Ende, which I loved to reread as a kid, but which I haven’t actually read in about twenty years — give or take a few. And indeed, even though I picked it up in January this year, I only finished reading it a few days ago. I thought I would love it. But what happened is that I found myself alternating between being impatient to get through the first part of the story, and putting the book down in favor of other reads and other obligations.

Everyone is familiar with the ‘80s movie, but that does not take up even half of Ende’s book. And the movie, as much as I love it, was part of my problem. Although there are differences between the film and the book, my familiarity with the film influenced how I read the first part of the story, so I really wanted to get to the second part of the book where Bastian stays in Fantastica (instead of going directly home with Falkor to face his bullies). Moon Child gives him AURYN, which grants Bastian his every wish, and consequently Bastian travels through Fantastica, recreating it through his stories and wishes.

When I finally did get to this part, it was far easier to imagine the characters and the settings outside of any screen influence. I wanted to lose myself in marveling at all of the inhabitants and places Bastian both recreates and visits, because Michael Ende really showcased his imagination in this story. It’s really unlike any other fantastical quest story I’ve ever read. Ende introduced fantastical characters (wood trolls, stone lions, whispering oracles) and amazing places (floating silver cities, a castle shaped like a hand, a desert of many colors) one after another, with seemingly no end in sight, and no two alike.

It is Atreyu again who must save both Bastian and Fantastica when he and Falkor realize Bastian is losing his memory — and himself — because of his wishes. This impedes Bastian’s ability to return home — if he doesn’t remember it, why would he go there? But Atreyu and Falkor know that if Bastian doesn’t get home, and if he keeps making up stories there to guide others to Fantastica, both Fantastica and the world of humans will suffer.

Rereading the second part made up for the impatient read of the first half, and I ended up regarding the book as a visit to an old friend. I hope to read it again in the future, because I found out how much I really have missed it.


Kelly: My resolution for 2017 was to read The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien. The films were the movie event of my college years, and I had several friends who were obsessed with the fandom. My parents bought me the books for Christmas around that time, but I couldn’t get into them and eventually sold or donated my copies. Even though I had tried and failed to read the books before, I had high hopes for my resolution. I finished Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, even though I thought it was deadly dull. I have read the entire Bible. I felt particularly confident because I had read The Hobbit in 2015 and enjoyed it. I thought I could finish anything.

I purchased new copies of all three volumes of The Lord of the Rings. I started reading The Fellowship of the Ring in January. In the book’s foreword, Tolkien talks about how all but one of his close friends died in World War I. I was intrigued and excited to see how the events in his book would serve as a metaphor for human wars. I read about 200 pages in January and then put the book aside. I read about 100 pages more in November in a “Whoops, I’m not going to finish my resolution” panic. I gave the book more than a fair shot and I know this won’t make me popular among the Speculative Chic contributors, but I hated it. The Hobbit was an action-packed adventure; this book is the polar opposite. I read 300 pages and the plot was still moving at a snail’s pace. It took forever for them just to get out of the Shire. I had trouble keeping Sam, Merry, and Pippin straight. The best way to describe how I feel about the book is that it is like having a conversation with an elderly person who starts talking about people from fifty years ago, whom you’ve never met and don’t care about, but their story keeps going and you have to fight not to fall asleep. My original attempt to read this book was one of the reasons I was convinced that I didn’t enjoy fantasy. Now I know it’s not fantasy that I don’t like; it’s The Lord of the Rings. I think it’s time for me to admit that Tolkien and I are not meant to be together.


Lane: So, in 2017, I resolved to watch 12 speculative fiction movies. That sounds like a pathetic sort of goal, but when I started, I was genuinely unsure I would make it through. I’m just not really a movie-watching kind of person. It’s a matter of false perception. I always think I have time to watch one episode of a TV show, but who has time to go to the theater which is always full of commercials and trailers and why have movies gotten so looooong? It’s 45 minutes versus 3 hours. Or 3-and-a-half hours if you’re watching something involving hobbits. Plus, I get bored really easily. I walk off, even in the theater. I’ll start roaming the halls, looking at all the movie posters. On occasion, when I’ve gone by myself, I’ve just left to go do something more interesting.

Then when you factor in so many 3D movies (which just don’t work for me), and the over-amped sound and the temperature which is always arctic…. Well, I just don’t go to theaters. And even at home, it seems like a bad time expenditure.

Of course, this is all a terrible lie, because that bare 45 minutes of TV? Yeah, I’ll watch four episodes of a show at a time. (I may have watched five episodes of iZombie back-to-back just the other day.) So armed with that knowledge and armed with the burning desire to see some movies coming to the theaters (Resident Evil, the Final Chapter, Wonder Woman, Thor: Ragnarok, Valerian) I figured I could tackle it.

Then Shara changed the rules on me by suggesting that first run movies really belonged with the Sound Off!, and I should watch other movies.

I did it! Though my last report is not up, I can tell you I watched Pride and Prejudice and Zombies successfully. Which finishes off the 12 official movies I needed to watch.

The question is, did I learn anything from this?

I learned that I’m way more critical about movies than I am about TV shows. I learned that weird little things make me crazy with rage. I learned that there is always room for a humorous chicken sidekick.

In 2016, I watched… three movies.

In 2017, I watched a lot more than that.

For the resolution project:

  1. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
  2. Edge of Tomorrow
  3. The Martian
  4. Kubo & the Two Strings
  5. Mad Max: Fury Road
  6. Moana
  7. Arrival
  8. Attack the Block
  9. Crimson Peak
  10. Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them
  11. Midnight Special
  12. Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

I also watched:

  1. Wonder Woman
  2. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
  3. Thor: Ragnarok
  4. Spider-Man, Homecoming
  5. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2
  6. Spectral
  7. Big Hero 6

 In the end, I’m calling this resolution a success and hopefully, I’ll keep watching movies next year, too.


Nicole: While it may have taken me almost the entirety of 2017 to finally get my butt in gear and watch Day 5, I managed to do so and I’m glad I did. The show not only met my (hopeful) expectations, but surpassed them. With flying colors, no less. From the premise to the locations to the lingering questions, it’s a show that proves Rooster Teeth is capable of more than just ridiculous comedy (although there’s absolutely nothing wrong with ridiculous comedy, and it’s the very thing I love them for). I think it’s a fantastic example of a labor of love. They’d wanted to create this show for a very long time — I’d first seen a snippet of it in 2014 during the Live Action panel, but they’d filmed that very snippet two years before at RTX2012. Those dead bodies circling Joel Heyman in the street? All convention-goers. But once they finally got the funding they needed, people in place, and time to shoot, it all came together.

I never once expected I’d be crying halfway through the first season, or how attached I would quickly become to the characters. I’m so glad Rooster Teeth found such excellent actors and actresses to craft this series, and I’m very much looking forward to Day 5, Season 3. Oh yes, I said Season 3. That’s because Season 2 is already out and I’ve watched that as well.

Now all I need to do is write up my review of it…


Sharon: Oh, resolutions. How I love the sound they make as they go whooshing by. Or something like that. Last year I resolved to read The Chronicles of Narnia. Why? Because I’d had a conversation with yet another friend who expressed shock and sadness that I’d never read them. How was that possible? They’re classics! Speculative fiction canon, however old fashioned they might be! How could I NOT have read them? I didn’t have an easy answer for that. Not then, anyway. I resolved to get off my butt and just do it. Maybe not all the books but at least one or two. 12 months later? Not a book or a chapter. Not even a word.

So, why the foot dragging? I’d had the time. I spent big chunks of 2017 recuperating from an illness. I’d read and read. So why not that book? Turns out, every time I thought about reading them, I found myself thinking, “I’m not in the mood for that kind of book.” What kind? A book meant for children. A book about children. A book about child protagonists doing brave and often scary but relatively wholesome things. The truth is, I’ve never read that kind of book. When I was a kid, I never wanted to read about other kids. I wanted to read about adults, doing terrifying and dark adult things. I wanted OUT of childhood. And so, as a child, I read things I didn’t understand, and probably shouldn’t have been reading, and I hope I’m no worse for it. If I am, I don’t care. We are who we are.

And maybe that’s the biggest lesson about resolutions: succeed or fail, you find out exactly who you are. I am a person who never read The Chronicles of Narnia, or The Wizard of Oz, or Roald Dahl. I never had any interest in reading any of the Harry Potter books, and probably never will. I’m sure a shrink would have a great time trying to find my inner child. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to enjoy my literary adult swim.


Shara: I kind of failed? See, my original resolution was to read Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, and if I had time, throw the movie in for extra credit. However, in January, iTunes was running a $0.99 rental special on the movie, so I went ahead and watched it. The plan then became to read the book and watching the adaptation again so I could talk about the differences.

That didn’t happen.

The truth is, 2017 has been one of the most challenging years I’ve experienced to date. And personal challenges aside, my free time was spent working out at the gym (which, if you know me, then you’ll know this is a relatively new lifestyle: the me two years ago would’ve laughed you out of the room if you said I’d be working out at the gym at least thee days a week), keeping up with favorite television shows with The Spouse, and of course, managing Speculative Chic. All of that’s on top of a very full-time job.

There’s also my reading habits: I’ve become a terribly slow reader. Even if I enjoy the book, it can take me months to finish it because free time is so sparse. Being able to find a day to just sit down and enjoy a book without guilt? Now that’s a rare commodity indeed.

It’s no wonder, then, that I kept putting Cloud Atlas off. When I’d finish a book, I’d opt for something shorter, something faster, thinking, “I’ll read Cloud Atlas after I finish this latest thing by my favorite author.” Only, that latest thing by my favorite author might literally take me two months. And, well, time flies.

If anything, I’ve learned that when it comes to resolutions, it’s best to do them immediately. If I’d gone ahead and started reading Cloud Atlas after I finished the film, I might’ve completed it by now. I might not have gotten to read anything else, mind you, but at least the resolution would be complete.

So that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. I still own my copy, and plan on reading it…. one day. When is still in the air, but given how interesting and complex the movie adaptation was, that original plan still stands: read the book, watch the movie again, and then talk about the differences.

But it definitely didn’t happen in 2017, and given the way 2018 is looking, it sure won’t happen then either.

5 Comments

  • Kelly McCarty December 28, 2017 at 12:52 am

    Well, I feel better that I’m not the only one who didn’t do their resolution. The crazy-looking chicken makes me want to watch Moana, which I have never seen, and I still sort of want to read Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. I’m with Sharon on reading children’s books. For the most part, I didn’t really like other children when I was a child. I’ve never read Harry Potter, either.

    Reply
    • Nancy O'Toole Meservier December 28, 2017 at 2:32 pm

      ” I’ve never read Harry Potter, either.”

      ::faints::

      Moana is worth seeing though! And I love JS&MN!

      Reply
    • Shara White December 28, 2017 at 7:24 pm

      Oh, I so want to watch Moana!!!!

      And I’d love to hear your thoughts on Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell if you give it a go.

      Reply
  • Shara White December 28, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    Casey: House of Leaves is one of my husband’s favorite books. He’s been after me to read it forEVER, and I tried a year or so ago, and just couldn’t get through it. I think it was the footnote issue (as in, I either should’ve ignored them my first read or read them all after I finished a chapter), but it was just taking me too long, and you’re right: the book is NOT friendly when you want to bring it with you to read at other places.

    JL: yeah, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell was a DNF for me too. I barely remember my reasons why, though I did try reading it on a vacation and it just didn’t hold my interest. I’m still disappointed by that: Hugo-winning, woman author… I really, really wanted to like it.

    Sherry: I really enjoyed The Goblin Emperor, so I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you.

    Carey: After reading your write-up, I had to tell my husband all about the first edition, and he turned around and got it on eBay! He wants to read the book now (and I admit, I’m curious, but I won’t be reading the first edition), so we may be back to comment on your review!

    Kelly: I swear I would’ve never finished The Lord of the Rings if I hadn’t already seen The Fellowship of the Ring a billion times. The Two Towers hadn’t come out yet, but having Middle Earth visualized in my head allowed me to skip a lot of scenery chewing, and I could already visualize most of the characters, and if I recall, I think I skipped a lot of the songs too. I don’t blame you for not finishing, but as someone who adores the (extended editions) of the movies, I hope you can give them another shot!

    Sharon: oh, I would’ve loved to hear your take on this, but I can understand. I don’t think I’ve read any of the other children’s fantasy you mentioned (unless I read excerpts in Reading books when I was in elementary school, but that doesn’t count), but I did make a point of reading Narnia when I first started reading fantasy in college. I rather loved it, but I’m not sure how I’d like it upon re-read, now that I’ve got a LOT more SF/F under my belt.

    Reply
  • Where I’ve been- and where I’ll be going | Picking Up the Pen January 14, 2018 at 9:30 am

    […] Slayer) Finales that Fell Flat (Fables) Cancellations that Killed Us (The Legend of Wonder Woman) How’d We Do? Resolution Project Wrap up-2017 (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time) Biggest Disappointments of 2017 (The Treatment of Iris West) […]

    Reply

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