Thursday, December 29, 2005

Resetting The Bar
Planning The Literate Life in 2006 

Thinking about new year's resolutions, since we'll be on a three-day with Vermont family over the year's crossing.

Other than the obvious -- quitting smoking, staying centered, raising the kids right -- much of what I've been steeping in is the possibility of reconnecting with the literate world. The blogging has become a little less frequent than I'd like; true, as well, that the backlog of unfinished drafts grows exponentially as the kids grow older.

I'd rather not give up on so much brainspark, so there's one resolution right there.

Onn a greater scale, though, I wonder if I so seldom revisit drafts because I've started to accept the oneshot shortform habit, caring more about logging life than writing it, never the intention for the blog in the first place.

The resultant brainstorm calls to mind several previously dismissed commitments which, over the three years I've been blogging, have made their memeway across the blogosphere. Under reconsideration, then:

52 books in 52 weeks

I've always dismissed this phenom as underwhelming; for years I've read a book a night, though mostly the easily-read -- mostly trash scifi, fantasy and Robert parker mysteries. In the past year, however, with the advent of kids-plural, and a job which has rearraged my schedule towards the comprehensively diurnal, I'm reading less.

If I'm going to claim the literate life, perhaps it's time to turn this accident of temporality to the good, to rejuvenate brain and time with a renewed focus on the cream of longform writing.

Aiming for quality over quantity would be worth doing well; weekly review would add new depth to that which I do read . As an added bonus, redeveloping the habit of marginalia, a subjective necessity for reviewing, would put my money where my mouth has recently been.

Added bonus, of course: though the trash would still beckon, it would be embarassing to end up reporting so often on trash fiction. The public life helps us stay honest; here, it would help me justify succumbing to the equally powerful pull of the bigger, more brain-bumper books.

Already on the list (and on the shelf): McCourt's "Teacher Man," McKibben's "The Age of Information."


Reading, of course, is only half a true literate life. Writers write, and -- exceptions aside -- the reality of blogging is that most of us are not going to get a book deal just to repackage the archives. Though blogging is satisfying for so many reasons, the temptation to create something less ephemeral and more comprehensively substantive has been an everpresent itch.

The world's most serious global writer's prompt, (November-as-) National Novel Writing Month has been for me both terrifying and untimely. But the summer months beckon, and Darcie has offered to support us (temporally and kid-wise, since a teacher's salary spreads through summer regardless) if I want to write a book this summer.

Not sure where I'd start, or what I'd address -- not even sure if I'd rather tackle fiction or non -- but planning for the summer gives me six months to prep and narrow in; creating my own non-November nanowrimo might provide for a focused time to draft and brainstorm, if nothing else.

They say the brain slows down as you age, especially past thirty; it's probably too late to produce the great american novel, but something personally satisfying would do. Reading some great novels would help. Non-fiction, too. See above.

While the issue of recapturing the literate life is on the table, it's worth noting that I've stopped wrestling with the fleeting lines of poetfodder that cross my blanksheet brain semiregularly, other than a few poems written & "published" at Asinine Poetry for the sheer silliness.

But that's a blog for another day. So much of my text-time is spent on short forms these days, from student papers to magazines to, of course, the half-baked and oft-dialogic shortform of the blogosphere. Note to self, then: reconnect with the literate longform, both as reader and writer, before it is too late.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:55 AM |

I liked this entry so much that I wrote about it here.

Oh, and if you'd like to try to arrange a mini-nano during the summer, I'm game. :)
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