Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Outside, it is freezing. The hill of my backyard is covered with crystals of ice and hard as stone. My fingers ache still, from a few minutes outside with the dogs. Dixie remains outside, stalking bluebirds and cardinals, there vivid plumage bursting from bare branches like hallucinations.

The long-delayed winter in Cincinnati has finally arrived. Inside, I bundle under a blanket with Archie, our smallest dog. He nuzzles against my side, keeping me warm. It's a new year. Sixteen days into a new year. So many days lay ahead in that space of time delineated by the circling of the sun. So many days remain. Three-hundred-and-forty days stretching forth like a blank canvas. Each new year, like so many of you, I make resolutions. Inevitably, the most of the resolutions—aside from those of the requisite quit smoking, eat better, and get more exercise variety—revolve around writing. Some years, publication has been the goal. Some years, the completion of a long dreamt of novel. Some years, I've had to resolve, merely, to write, to force myself to sit at a desk, on a sofa, in the kitchen, or at a cafe a brisk walk away long enough to let the words flow over me like rain.

In previous years, I've failed miserably at keeping such resolutions. Distractions abound. I've had my guitars to blame, the television, and the constant siren call of video game systems. More, I've given in to the desire to eat, drink, and carouse with friends. I've let the pursuit of a lover seem, for a few moments at least, to be the most important work in my life.

Of course, there's nothing inherently wrong with any of these pursuits. Without sacrificing a few moments here and there to the adoration of those we love, a novel or verse of poems might spill forth from your pen, but would you be happy? More, there's a reason why millions of units ship each time a new video game system ships. And of course, who am I to say, like so many others before me, that television is a plague against our intelligence? Regardless of the truth of such a claim, it remains, for many, their primary way to glimpse the world around them.

For a writer, of course, it's different. The passive engagement of television or video games seems far more insidious. Yet, each day, I still flick on the cable and listen to a morning sports program, as though I couldn't bare the silence. Even now, the television is thumping along as background noise—doubtlessly slowing my progress.

Archie is awake again and needs to be petted. Outside, Dixie is cavorting in warm sunlight, chasing her ball, gnawing on golden shafts of bamboo. The crystalline splotches of frost are melting from the lawn, leaving nothing of last night's light snow. Soon, like every last resolution I've made, the frost will be gone.

Yet, I'll still look forward to the year and to filling those seemingly empty spaces with possibility. This could be the year that more stories land, that more poems are published in journals with larger and larger circulation. This could be the year when I finally have something to shop to agents. This could be the year when, at last, I decide that the dream is nothing more than a dream. Who knows?

Still, I'm delighted by the possibilities and, as it seems every year, overcome by hope. I realize, of course, that we ought to make resolutions we can keep. I could resolve, simply, to continue writing and to continue down the path. Perhaps, just through fastidious striving I'll manage to get a manuscript looked at by a few publishers. Perhaps, I'll even manage a few publications that make me gloat a little. Perhaps again, I'll turn to more effective ways to make money out of concern for my family and admit that, for the moment, my writing isn't good enough. But, as I jot these last few sentences, it occurs to me that I don't want to dream small. Life, despite is complexities, is already small enough. No, instead I want my dreams to fill billboards in Times Square. I want my fancies to rove far and wide, like salesmen for pharmaceutical companies. I want, for the moment, to make resolutions so enormous that simply keeping them will be an accomplishment. So, I'm resolving to finish three books this year and have them in the mail being perused by agents and publishers. And, who knows, if all goes well, the royalties will start trickling in and I'll be able to afford, um, more expensive coffee.


Post a Comment

<< Home