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I hope that thing about "New Year's Day is a sign of what your year will be like" thing isn't true for me, because early on the 31st I started getting that throat-tickle thing that  presages a cold, and sure enough I spent the next two days in bed trying to sleep off the germs. I can't control that aspect of how my year started, so here's something I can control. I made an off-hand commitment on Twitter the other day to balance out my self-pitying "what have I done all year" posts with a positivity post about nice writing-related things that have happened this year.

I’m debating whether I want to put out any New Year’s resolutions (or my more usual irresolutions) for 2018, but the end of the year is a good time to look at my post from 2016/12/29 when I laid out my resolutions for this past year and see how they played out. My one solid resolution was: “I'm going to stop doing things just to try to impress people who don’t actually care. And one of those things is blogging five days a week.”

Here I am on my usual review day without any reviews lined up (though I may do movie reivews of "Battle of the Sexes" and "Coco" at some point). So I thought I'd reprise a feature I did last year. This is not a "best of" list. This isn't even a "best of what I consumed" list. No claim is made that the items on this list have an objective value over any other items I might have placed on the list. But these are 20 items--grouped into 4 general categories of 5 items each--that I blogged about and that have stuck with me for some reason.

Last week I talked about how manipulation of point-of-view can change the entire flavor of what I’m writing. This week, rather than talking about my own writing, I’d like to bring together three things that have passed through my brain recently about understanding and portraying romantic relationships between women in historical settings.

(If you’re unfamiliar with the phrase “the uncanny valley” in visual representation, this Wikipedia article is a useful start, especially the section on computer animation.)

There is an expression—a phrase, an image, a verbal trope—that I am trying to eliminate from my critical writing: “Does not disappoint.” When I think about it, I’m a bit embarrassed that it took me so long to identify it as something I wanted to stop using, because I’d already examined a different model of the underlying issue from another angle and identified what it was that would eventually start bothering me about “does not disappoint.”

Today is even more random than usual, as any possibility of applying my brain to a new creative topic is toast. It looks like I'm finally circling down to being able to close the investigation that I've been working on the last two months. And I set up my new laptop last night and have yet to go through and do a complete functionality verification regarding programs and data-transfer, so I don't dare do anything on either the old or new machine that involves changing files yet.

Usually I like to focus this blog on the creative part of the writing process, but I'm in an unusual pause at the moment so I thought I'd talk about the analytic end. I know the common wisdom in mainstream publishing is that an author should pay no mind to reviews and ratings. At most, we should do comic readings of our one-star reviews to show how little we care. (Only cry in private behind locked doors.) So this essay isn't really for anyone whose book came out from a major publisher.

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