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What Non-Writing Goal Do You Want to Accomplish in 2020?

The one non-writing goal that I have for the coming year is to improve my Finnish language skills. I have been here for over five years and my vocabulary and grammar are still terribly basic. There are reasons for this, and I think they’re valid, but that doesn’t change anything.

Finnish is hard. I still struggle to pronounce vowel sounds that don’t exist in American English. The words are long, because (and I’m oversimplifying this) proper nouns with adjectives and modifiers get jammed together into compound words. So you don’t say, for example, “strawberry jam”. In Finnish it’s “strawberryjam”, mansikkahillo.

Which is fine, except when the pieces of the compound words can possibly be other words. For example, aamupalaverihuone means “morning meeting room”, where the office team gathers at the start of the day. Aaamu = morning, palaveri = meeting, huone = room. But hold on, if you break it differently aamupala = breakfast, veri = blood, so it could also mean “breakfast blood room”. Because the emphasis is always on the first syllable and letters are only pronounced one way, morning meeting room and breakfast blood room are pronounced the same way. You have to go by context, because clearly, breakfast blood room makes no sense, but when your vocabulary is limited it’s confusing.

What Non-Writing Goal Do You Want to Accomplish in 2020?

My real excuses are that I work from home, so I’m not immersed in the language. Nearly everyone I know is an English-speaking expat. Almost all service people, from bankers to repairmen to grocery clerks, speak English. So it’s been the lack of opportunity to practice. That’s why as soon as registration opens up, I’m going back to taking classes in January. This time around Katie is going to take the classes with me, and we’re going to make more of an effort to speak Finnish at home for extra practice.


Okay reader, even if you’re not a writer you can share this one. You don’t have to be a participant in The Merry Writer game to play along here!

The Merry Writer is a writer’s game on Twitter run by Ari Meghlen (@arimeghlen) and Rachel Poli (@RPoli3). Each day there’s a new question, and each month there’s a new theme. In these posts I expand upon the answers that I’ve posted on my Twitter.

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Journal

New Purpose, New Goals, New Plans

There’s so much to talk about that I don’t know where to begin. I’ve been off the internet for a while. In the intervening time I’ve continued writing and publishing for Dancing Lights Press. Our residence in Finland has been renewed through the end of July 2020. Katie has an art show running all month, and has begun teaching art again. A lot of my life has just been maintenance of the status quo. Which is the problem that I’m currently solving for by finding new purpose, creating new goals, and making new plans.

Finding New Purpose

I’ve been in a survival/reactive mode for too long now. My time has been taken up doing the things that I need to do, leaving little left to do any of the things that I want to do. There hasn’t even been time to consider what it is I want to do. Hence the cessation of all distractions, including social media, blogging, and any projects that don’t make a worthwhile financial contribution to the household. I needed to prioritize my time to maximum impact. A lot of that has been spent reevaluating my purpose, resetting my goals, and creating a plan for the next few years. I know that “finding new purpose” sounds like a bold claim and a little weird, but bear with me for a few more posts and you’ll understand.

Creating New Goals

When we decide to move to Finland in 2012, we made a plan. That got us here in 2014. When I graduated from business school that same year, I had a business plan. That’s kept the bills paid and a roof over our head for the past 5 years. The thing is, life is never static. I’ve changed, and the world has changed. It’s long past time to cross off the goals I’ve accomplished, tweak the ongoing ones, and set some new objectives for myself.

For the past several weeks I’ve spent time considering what I want. I’ve been envisioning what the next chapter of my life will look like, both personally and professionally. The result is that I’ve set four new goals for myself. In the coming weeks I’ll spend some time talking about all of them, but two are immediately relevant to this space.

The first goal is to write a novel. The second is to run a successful blog around the creation of that novel. I’m going to be using this space to talk about the process of writing, why I want to write a novel, and the sort of book I’m looking to create.

Making New Plans

In addition to taking time to determine my goals, I’ve been making plans. After gaining clarity about what’s important to me and working out what I want, I began devising how I’m going to get it. This means, for the first time since I started blogging, I have a clear direction for this blog. I know the topics I’ll be writing about, the schedule I’m going to keep, and the ways that I’m going to grow readership. It’s still a side-hustle, but I’m not making it up as I go along, and have a long-term vision for what I want to develop this space into.

If you’re still with me after the long hiatus, thank you and welcome back. If you’re just joining us here for the first time, welcome. Things officially relaunch on 2 December 2019, when regular posts will resume Monday through Friday. Between then and now I’ll be updating the pages and making some adjustments to the site design. Your feedback is absolutely appreciated, so tell me what you’d like to see going forward.