Another Missive From The (Maybe) Future

on Sunday, January 1, 2012
Greetings again fellow travellers (for the Aussies) and Cro-Magnan humanoids (for most of the rest of the world).

I write to you from the land of 2012, which thus far is proving blissfully uneventful. Here's hoping it continues that way!

As is now customary on B4BW, I shall pander to the populist lunacy of jotting down a bunch of things I intend but am unlikely to accomplish this coming year. For 2012, they include:

Write More Than I Read: The one positive to come out of the awful year that was 2011 was having my own writing published. I would have been content to have just seen my story The Prisoner of Babel printed in The Sleepers Almanac. It's a damn good compendium that I have been reading for years and I felt honoured to be included. However, to then have Crumbs go on to win The Age Short Story Award was beyond anything I could have wished for. It was also the kick in the arse I needed to really knuckle down and finish the novel I've been tinkering with for the past four years. It's currently 82,000 words (about 300 pages), halfway done and getting ridiculous. As such, I've decided to pull back from all the distractions in my life - music, friends, eating out, work, community involvement and, yes, reading to just focus on writing. Every day. I'll be happy to get to 50 books this year, so long as I finish the damned thing. To make things a little bit more tricky I also want to get a good deal of the other book I'm working on done. At least that one is a little easier, being a pure imaginative work of speculative fiction, rather than forcing me to run to the history books or primary sources every five seconds like the big one does. Either way, I have a lot of work ahead of me, but I feel that 2012 is the year it will happen!

Stop Being Such A Lit-Wanker: I have always fancied myself quite the highbrow reader, snubbing my nose at those lesser mortals who read what I deemed to be 'trash'. Fuck that! I'm going to start reading the sorts of books I have long mocked. Writing is a difficult, mentally-taxing endeavour, so this year I want my reading to be more of an escape. Seeing that I've always enjoyed the odd bit of genre fiction whenever I've deigned to 'lower' myself to its level, and almost all the books I wished I'd read last year seem to be genre books, I think I'll spend the better part of the year reading the stuff. And feeling good about it. And probably realising that anyone who considers themselves at lofty literary heights just because they read the most obscure highbrow lit they can find is, when stripped of the force field of arrogance, just a massive douche! Bring on the crime/sci-fi/fantasy/horror/graphic fiction.

Smell The Roses: Contrary to the way I have conducted myself over the past few years, it has occurred to me that reading is not a competitive sport. Given that I will probably be reading far fewer books than usual, I figure that when I do open one up I ought to be sitting back and enjoying the ride, extracting as much pleasure as possible from each book. Sure, I might get swept up in the thrill of some of the genre reads, or bogged down in some of the research-related books, but whatever the case I won't be racing to some outlandish finish line.

Some Tangible Reading Aspirations: Tolstoy's War and Peace. Sartre's Road To Freedom trilogy (plus the recently published fourth instalment). The first two instalments of Lev Grossman's Magicians Trilogy. Neil Gaiman's American Gods.

The Obligatory Aspiration: The Immutable Law of New Year stipulates that we all must choose one of two stock resolutions. One involves quitting smoking. The other is losing weight. I've never touched a cigarette in my life (other than the one my great grandmother gave me in Prague when I was six) so that's kind of moot. Luckily I'm a little pudgy around the edges and could do with some trimming so I'm going to take Option B. But I don't intend to do it in half measures. This year, I'm resolving to lose more than my entire body weight so that I can know what it means to live in a vacuum (without trying to fold myself into ridiculous contortions to fit in my Hoover). So there you have it. Final New Year's Aspiration - lose more than 95 kilos. If only Oprah was still on air. I'd have been a shoe-in!

And in case you're wondering, the year is off to a good start. The first book of 2012 is Roseanna by Maj Sjowell and Per Wahloo. Classic Scandinavian crime fiction from the 1960s.


Anonymous said...

Good luck with the writing - I am looking forward to reading both your books!

And I;m interested to hear you intend to read more genre/'lowbrow' fiction this year. 2011 for me was dominated by the experience of reading a series of 'lowbrow'/fantasy books, the five novels in the series A Song of Ice and Fire (3 more due to be written; no idea when; sigh). Utterly compelling evocation of a world, with many pleasurable linguistic/historical referents merged with the fantasy stuff... The Wars of the Roses were never so much fun!

And I've just finished reading The Stranger's Child (Hollinghurst). Gripping stuff, though james Wood's review in the New Yorker got it right: where there was not a single word out of place in The Line of Beauty, this one seems lazier/comfier/less daring...

Happy reading, and all the best for 2012 - may it be a year filled with productive work and much happiness, after the stress of 2011.

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