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Thursday, January 04, 2018

Resolves and best-laid plans, 2018

Janusz Hylinski at
Last year was a year of much travel for me--three trips from Cooperstown to western North Carolina, one long stay in Worcester, Massachusetts at the American Antiquarian Society, a trip to Paris, and a trip to Japan. This year will also have some travel, but I mean to make better use of time when I am at home. As I have a husband and three children plus lots of regular activities scheduled, I'm pretty busy there too.

Make resolves you can keep. Make resolves you can't keep.

Don't linger with what is meaningless (boring or feeble) in visual or written art.

Don't waste time. Marvell's winged chariot whirs like a cicada in the background.

Don't finish books that aren't what they were meant to be or what they should be. Don't waste your precious time.

Don't judge books based on what they are not.

Clean up your writing room and all books and papers throughout the house.

Jettison things. Books, clothes, objects.

Less sugar!

Support small presses.

Go through the masses of poems and other work that you've never revised or published.

Throw much away!

Finish polishing the (very) long novel, acquire your third agent, and write a short novel.

Publish a book of poems.

Sell a novel.

Quit dithering and decide what to do about reprints.

Volunteer. Do secret things that feed the soul.

Do much less social media.

Hunt down what is meaningful.

Merry 11th day of Christmas!


  1. "Don't make time for what is meaningless in visual or written art." Unless I make time for it, I will not know that it is meaningless. Hmmm. Now there is a problem.

    1. Maybe that means not finishing weak or boring books or lingering in boring art shows... Both of which I have done.

  2. That's a good list! "Publish a book of poems. Sell a novel."

    Hunt down what is meaningful. Yes!

    1. Hope we both have managed to do what we wished to do in a year...

  3. This is a fine catalogue of resolve! I share several of these, especially the business about finishing unfinished works or discarding the ones that aren't worth doing, although my list also includes a plan to get up the nerve to start writing for publication again. Sometimes in the fire-hose face-blast of Internet noise, it's hard to remember why one's own voice matters.

    1. It is hard sometimes--we get swept away and lost by the noise and the inaccurate portrayal of what is good and what matters. I am curious to see what form pilfered from the Medievals you will play with next!

  4. A Marly list, by my halidom. It takes my breath away. Such ambition, such hints at physical and moral strength, such vicious decisiveness, such limitless horizons. I would not be surprised to find:

    Sue for world peace.

    Expect the Second Coming.

    Re-arrange bi-cameral government.

    And I (who am not shaped for sportive tricks, sent into this world scarce half made up) must needs reflect on my more modest considerations:

    You have two pairs of slippers but only need one. Discard or die!

    This day, this morning, this next half-minute send The Brothers Karamazov to the shredder. You've had four goes, you got as far as page 360. Admit to yourself: failure as a reader must betoken failure as an author.

    You tremble at the sight of courgettes; suppose you met the ghost of Lionel Trilling!

    Might Trump be human?

    1. Such things are supposed to be hopeless.

      Think about Benjamin Franklin: "Imitate Jesus and Socrates."

    2. That wasn't his New Year's resolution but just a plain old resolution for life (in his Autobiography.)


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.