Lately I’ve been taking in just how much I still need to get through, not just in terms of books, but all forms of art and storytelling that have been backlogged for years now. I think part of this has to do with coming into my own both as a reader/viewer/etc. and as someone with critical aspirations. When I was in university, the material I had to learn and write about was provided for me and occupied a lot of my time. Now, I have to be the author of my own progress. The problem is, despite progress I feel I have made as a writer, I’m terrible at managing what content I get through.
This hit the hardest when I realized late last year that there are three major comic book series that I’ve been in the middle of reading for over half a decade: Hellboy, The Unwritten, and 100 Bullets. Hellboy stood out to me most, as I’d been picking up a measly one volume a year — which does not satisfy my personal goals. To rectify this, I focused on Hellboy and started rereading from the beginning to get myself refreshed, then continued from there. It was quite startling to realize how much I’d forgotten about the first volume, but I’m now on track to completing the series.
This problem as a whole applies to many other things too. Until late summer of 2016, I was only halfway through Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, and I’m only a third through Robert J. Sawyer’s WWW trilogy. I’ve never even finished Harry Potter, which I drifted away from around the release of Half-Blood Prince. I have two seasons left of Breaking Bad, am several seasons behind on Doctor Who, and I’m sure there are numerous other things that don’t immediately come to mind. Video games is a laundry list all on its own that feels daunting whenever I think about it. Never mind what I’m in the middle of, there are numerous great books, films, and games that I’ve had access to for a long time that I’m not even touching yet either.
I do acknowledge, of course, that having too much to read, watch, and play is a rather good problem to have. Considering that my hopes for writing about these interests to go well beyond a hobby, however, it becomes plain to me that I have developed some unfortunate habits that are holding me back. I let things pile up, am unfocused, and ultimately fall behind. I take such a broad strokes approach as well that I end up starting a lot but finishing up with little. I should never feel like I’m reading enough, that would be complacent in a way that would hinder me as well, but I feel a burning desire more than ever to move past these things. Why haven’t I seen Back to the Future, or read Lord of the Rings, or played Dragon Age: Origins yet?
I understand these are not the most important things for success, but they’re important stepping stones for me. Moving forward, I want to have more focus, and I think that’s something others in my position could take away from this post too. If you’re just engaged with these things for fun, go at your own pace, don’t worry about it. Otherwise, don’t let yourself drag your feet or become lazy. Set goals for yourself and plot a course for what you want to accomplish with that. 2016 really did feel like a year where I started to turn this around, but this is only the beginning. Motivation can be hard to find, especially dealing with spells of depression like I do, but I always try to remind myself of how mechanically easy it is to do these things if you push yourself a little more, even if it just means laying out more concrete plans. I need to orient this towards creative endeavours as well, which is where I have the most trouble.
Things are picking up: I’m on course to finish reading The Dark Tower and Hellboy, and am making plans for other series as well. These are all things I’m excited to write about, and getting past them will help me to write about the new things I will discover going forward. There’s much more I should be doing though. Hopefully I can make 2017 a big turning point.