Giving Up On A Goal For 2009

17:50 Fri 27 Feb 2009
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Back at the start of the this year, I set out a bunch of goals for myself for 2009. One of them was this:

Write a summary/review/synopsis of every book I read. This will be a lot harder, I think. Definitely a trickier one, and a hard discipline to maintain, but we’ll see how it goes.

How has that gone? Badly. I started relatively well, getting the first synopsis done without that much trouble. The second wasn’t too bad either, despite the fact that it required summarizing a book that was over 1100 pages long.

However, for whatever reason, summarizing Ringworld resulted in my getting stuck. This despite the fact that it’s easier to summarize than any of the previous three books I’d done (The Fall of the Kings, Ash, and The Time Traveler’s Wife). I don’t think my difficulties really had much to do with the book itself, and more with my resistance to the whole endeavor.

What really didn’t help is that I started the next book, De Niro’s Game, before having finished the Ringworld summary, and the backlong only got worse from there. I’ve read the following ten books so far this year:

And I’ve only written summaries for the first four. Furthermore, I can’t see myself writing them for any of the rest, despite the fact that I set that as a goal.

I’m not sure what it is. Somehow it seems like a chore, more than anything else, a chore that my own nature won’t let me simply skimp on—whenever I start one of these summaries, I have to get it at least to the point where it’s a good summary of the plot, and that’s not something I seem to be able to do very rapidly.

Frankly, it feels a lot like homework. Much more like homework than writing blog posts or writing morning pages or working on fiction. Homework and I have never had a very good relationship, so I don’t see this working out.

I’m sure there are plenty of approaches I could try to make it less like homework. The first thing that comes to mind is to make it less of a summary and more of a kind of stream-of-consciousness impression: just write directly after reading the book, for ten minutes, about anything that comes to mind concerning it. However, I’m quite likely to try to summarize it anyway, and so even such an exercise feels onerous. So I’ll call this one dead, and see about whether or not I feel like trying it again, in some different guise, next year.

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