My review of 2019:
This year has been one of hits and misses when it comes to work.
I started the year working at King (Candy Crush Saga, etc) as a senior web developer in their shared tech department. I had only been there 6 months when they made a number of people redundant around March/April and I was left looking for a new role.
Having secured a role with JustGiving, I had a month off, which led to an opportunity to write some chapters of a book. I will talk about that later.
I joined JustGiving at the beginning of May as a senior frontend developer. I have mostly been working on their crowdfunding product.
The frontend is Typescript and React. This role has given me my first experience of GraphQL, which is a skill I have enjoyed picking up.
I work on a small team with two junior and two senior frontend developers and it has given me the opportunity to try out some new tech, visit conferences and help with recruiting. All things I wasn't doing in my freelance roles prior to 2019.
Since my daughter was born, 4 years ago, the time I've spent reading has been reduced to near zero. Very occasionally, I have picked up a novel, read the same passage again and again while distractions have mounted up all around me and, finally, given up a few pages in.
At the very end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019, I decided to try something a bit different. I thought I'd try to change my reading habits in three ways:
- I set myself a reading challenge on Goodreads.
- I decided to focus on collections of short stories.
- I thought I'd give audio books a try.
I wanted to use the reading challenge to record my progress and push me to meet a target. I set the number of books for the year at 20. I hadn't read anywhere near that number of books in the previous year.
As we reach the end of 2019, Goodreads tells me I have read 24 books. That means I've completed 22 books more than last year. The experiment has been a success!
I still have a book on the go coming in to the last few days of 2019. I am hoping to get to 25 books for the year.
In 2020, my aim is to improve on this. I will set my target to 26 for 2020. One book every two weeks. Anything over that will be a nice bonus.
I chose to concentrate on collections of short stories because I wanted to be able to read in short bursts and still get to the end of a complete piece of art.
I have always found good short stories inspiring. When done well the lean nature of a short story, the intensity and purity as a literary form, has occasionally left me in awe.
I didn't stick completely to short stories over the year but found some collections I loved. Collections by Carys Davies (Some New Ambush, The Redemption of Galen Pike) and Angela Carter (The Bloody Chamber) stood out and 15 of the 25 books I've read have been short story collections.
I think I will try to mix things up a bit more next year. I want to read some philosophy and non-fiction books, something I haven't done in a while, as well as some more short story collections and a few more novels.
Finding good and interesting short story collections now seems to be a part of the challenge for 2020.
On work days, I spend a lot of time commuting. This year I thought I would give audio books a go via an Audible subscription.
I thought this would give me some time to just sit back and listen to a story well told.
I have to admit this has not been entirely successful. I find it difficult to stay awake when listening to some audio stories on the train. Having said that, I did find Chernobyl interesting and Stephen Fry's Mythos was excellent.
In April, I was approached by an acquisition editor working for Packt about working on a book. I had planned to do more in the way of content creation for years. This seemed like a great opportunity.
I was between jobs and had a month ahead of me with no full time work. It seemed like good timing. I will admit it took a lot more effort than I had expected to come up with 5 acceptable chapters for a book on the fundamentals of HTML and CSS.
I am proud it has been published and I hope to do more writing. It is a skill I really want to get better at. Hence this article and I hope several more in 2020.
In 2019, I got an author page on Amazon. In 2020, I hope to add to it.
It's been an interesting year, a lot has happened: the book, the change of job. I entered my 40s and I started playing banjo too.
My daughter is about to turn 5 and it is great to see her growing and changing everyday. This year, she started the reception year at our local school and has become a lot more independent. She seems to be thriving and that is a joy to see.
I look forward to 2020. I'm going to set myself some goals for the year that I hope I can keep to but I also don't want to push myself too far this year. Relaxing is something I find difficult at times. In middle age, I've come to realise it is better to sometimes take a moment and do nothing than to burn out while trying to fight fires of my own creation.