Past Year’s Accountability

At the end of 2007, I started a tradition of writing a list of goals for the upcoming year and then, a year later, posting on my blog or website which goals I had accomplished. It served as part life update – the equivalent of a family Christmas letter – and part motivation or just outright personal shaming. If I had to publicly admit my failures, it would motivate me to work harder at my goals. I call this tradition “Past Year’s Accountability” – what I thought in 2008 was a clever name for a necessary counterpart to New Year’s Resolutions. Goals don’t matter if you set and forget them.

Every NYE since 2008 I have posted my list of goals from the previous year along with a recap of which I accomplished, which I failed to accomplish, and my overall score for the year. This tradition has followed me through various online outlets, from social media to blogs to newsletters. This is the first year since 2008 that I haven’t had a personal blog or newsletter of any kind; my only “feed” being my Substack newsletter which is now devoted to Shakespeare and doesn’t feel like an appropriate place for banal life updates.

When I began this tradition in 2008, having a public online life was a novel idea in and of itself. Now it has become white noise. My love of pointless tradition, however, outweighs my growing boredom with talking about myself, and so I continue PYA into 2024. This page will be visible on my personal website for the month of January, and then will disappear into the ether until 2025.

2023 was a tough year for me in many ways. I suffered some major professional and creative setbacks, from which I’m still recovering. But I also had some unprecedented successes. I spent July studying with Prague Shakespeare; Atlanta Shakespeare did a reading of my first play. It certainly wasn’t all bad, but I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves:

Read 25 books

I knocked this one out of the park. Including audio books, I read 33 books this year. My favorite books of the year are below. Full credit for this resolution.

Favorite novels

Favorite nonfiction

Write a play

While I didn’t write very much this year, I did manage to write one short play called Dawn Keehotay. It’s a 15min piece for two actors that was written for Microtheater in Miami, a company that produces a season of short plays on a single theme. My play Dawn Keehotay, co-written with Sara Linares, was chosen for their season on Hispanic pride. Microtheater has had to go on hiatus, but a Miami filmmaker read the script and is interested in producing it as a short film. So while it is a small piece, it might have a large life.

Additionally, I wrote a second draft of my first play, The Killer of Camp Arden, in preparation for Atlanta Shakespeare to do a staged reading of it in October.

Curtain call from Atlanta Shakespeare’s reading of The Killer of Camp Arden

For writing a short new play, and writing a second draft of an existing play, I am giving myself full credit for this resolution.

Finish the chapter samples for my Shakespeare in Star Trek book and send them to at least five agents/publishers

In 2022, I started writing a book about Shakespeare in Star Trek, and in 2023 I wanted to write sample chapters to send to agents and publishers. I made a little progress on this resolution early in the year and then it went by the wayside. No credit here.

Finish my back tattoo

At the very end of 2022, I started working on my back tattoo, the climactic scene of Moby Dick, and I had hoped to finish it in 2023. Alas, I got about halfway through and then became too broke to work on it anymore. I would guess that I’m about halfway through with it so I’ll give myself half credit for this resolution.

Write second draft of Why I Am So Sad

In 2020, I wrote the first draft of a novel based on Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice titled Why I Am So Sad (a quote from the first line of the play). One of the biggest goals I wanted to accomplish in 2023 was working on a second draft of that book, but I only ended up writing a couple thousand words of the second draft and so I can’t give myself any credit for this resolution.

Produce an Elsewhere show

In October, we produced another tour, a production of Macbeth that played three times in three cities with a slightly different cast each show. We played once in Northampton, MA, once in East Harlem, NYC, and once in Atlanta, GA. Not only did we produce the play, but I played a lead role for the first time, taking on the role of the Thane himself. Full credit for this resolution.

Me and Maddy Gillespie from the Northampton production of Macbeth

Audition for a play

Believe it or not, I had never auditioned for a play prior to 2023. I have very little desire to be a full-time actor, so I’ve never bothered to audition for things, mostly contenting myself to be in friends’ projects or in Elsehwere shows. However, auditioning seems so universal to the actor’s experience that I wanted to do it at least once. So I auditioned for Shakespeare and Company since auditions were happening when I was on campus working anyway, so I popped in and did a monologue from King John. I didn’t get cast, but I wasn’t terribly interested in being in their season anyway, I just wanted the expeirence of auditinoning. So full credit for this resolution.

Be a good partner in both of my relationships and find ways for each to grow

I am in two polyamorous relationships, and I wanted to try to be a good partner in both of them in 2023. I failed at this resolution. No credit here.

Direct in the Fall Festival of Shakespeare

For the last few years, one of my dreams has been to direct in the Fall Festival of Shakespeare, the flagship education program in which teaching artists from Shakespeare and Company produce a weekend festival of high school Shakespeare plays – ten plays from ten local schools in four days. I was initially promised a job as a FFS director by the head of the education department and my personal mentor. However, that turned out to be a lie when he reneged on that promise two months later. No credit here.

Grow enough vegetables in my garden to eat

Once again I tried growing vegetables in my backyard and once again I ended up with nothing to show for it. No credit here.

Publish a print edition of Brief Candle

Brief Candle began as a Shakespeare magazine that I published annually from 2012 to 2021. In 2022 I didn’t publish a print version and in 2023 I renamed my Substack newsletter Brief Candle, thinking that I would send out a regular email newsletter and then publish a print edition at the end of the year of the greatest hits of articles and stories from the newsletter. But I only sent out a couple of Brief Candle newsletters in 2023 and failed to publish a print edition for the second time in two years. So no credit here.

Publish a photo book

I took up film photography in 2020 and had wanted to publish some kind of photo book this year but I never got around to it. No credit here.

Be off book for two comedic and two tragic monologues

Because I worked all of Macbeth’s monologues in the course of the production, as well as having a kinda/sorta comedic monologue from King John, I am going to give myself half credit for this resolution. 

And so, my final score for 2023 was 5/13 or 38%.