I failed to make any resolutions for the new year this, that is last, year. I had no time. Unlike 2018, when I had time for as many as nineteen NY resolutions, in 2019 I turned out to be too busy. Also, I decided that NY resolutions are stupid. Of course I never kept all of those nineteen resolutions in made for 2019. But I have plans for the new year. I have plans all right.
They are not particularly ambitious plans, I think. I can’t be certain because ambitiousness is a relative term like pretty much everything else. The thing about my plans for 2020 is they invariably contain the word “more”. Basically, I plan to continue doing what I did last year but do more of it. I’ve always thought the simplest plans are the best ones.
For starters, I will write more. I wasn’t as disciplined last year as I would have liked to be but I’ll try to do better this year. I’ll simply cut my social networks time. Better for the brain, better for the writing. Better for everything, really. It remains to be seen how “simply” relates to “easily” though I have some expectations already. In any case, I’ll try.
I also want to blog more. I’m actually having dreams of becoming a full-time blogger (and writer) at some point. Which means I will need to blog more often and be more helpful with my blogs. Writings tips, dos and don’ts in querying, stylistic mistakes, what’s so bad about bad literature, you name it, I can write about it.
That’s not because I’m selling millions of books. No, I’ve actually no idea if I’ve sold any at all. My first royalty statement is due later this month and I’m prepared for the worst. There’s an ocean of books out there and I’m crap at marketing so I don’t see my chances of having written a bestseller as too great.
However, I have been making a living by writing for about a decade now and it’s a pretty decent living. More importantly, I’ve also studied for a professional reader. I have a BA diploma to prove it. It doesn’t amount to much besides a heightened awareness of what makes for good literature and what doesn’t but this awareness is indeed heightened (and I paid for it in blood, sweat, tears, and vodka, otherwise known as A Four-Year Curriculum Featuring Tonnes of Literary Theory and an Unhealthy Amount of Linguistics). As a result, I know what makes a great story even if I will never ever be certain the stories I write are good ones. It’s one of the more amusing ironies of life and I never miss a chance to appreciate it.
So, why, you might ask, would I want to become a full-time writer and blogger if I’m making such a decent living right now. Again, simple. I don’t always get to write about what I want. I often have to write about what a certain audience wants to read about even though I don’t exactly want to write it. Wars, for example. Humanitarian crises. I love my job but it’s not always fun.
Writing books is also not always fun but it’s different kind of non-fun. It has nothing to do with actual human suffering or stupidity. It has all to do with imaginary suffering and stupidity, and that’s a much better sort of suffering and stupidity as far as I’m concerned. Let me put it like this: it’s a lot better to read (or write, for that matter) a horror novel than live in one.
Besides the self-gratification, there is also the fact I like to be helpful. It’s not out of any inborn altruism or generosity. I’m just a practical person and if I see someone with a problem I’m less likely to clap them sympathetically on the shoulder and tell them all will be better than I am to start offering solutions to the problem.
I’ve been seeing quite a few people online asking for help with writing and publishing their work. I’ve been through that. I know less than many about all the intricacies of this business but, it seems, more than many others. I’m in a position from which I could share what I’ve learned through hands-on experience. I can combine the knowledge and reading expertise I acquired at university with the empirical evidence I’ve accumulated over the past few years and save other people’s time.
Nobody has four spare years to earn a BA in English philology, do they? And they don’t need to, when people with said BA (and an almost completed MA save for the actual writing of a Master’s thesis, that is) are more than happy to tell you why searching for the bestseller formula will get you nowhere. Sure, there is a formula. There are many formulae. They just can’t guarantee you a bestseller. Neither can I, of course, no one can. But like thousands of other writing folk with a smidgen of success I can try and encourage you to tell the story you want to tell in the best possible way and leave the formulae for scientists.
Where does the persimmon jam come in, you might wonder. Well, there’s a story there. Last year I met in person with someone I had only communicated with online. An online friend who, for some reason, kept encouraging me to write. Thanks to favourable circumstances, we happened to be in the same city at the same time (This sounds like I travel a lot, which I don’t. I stay in place. People come to me. I’m only half joking.). I had one of the most pleasant lunches with that person, so I invited them to visit again some time. I said I’ll make persimmon jam as a welcome gift.
The persimmon jam offer stemmed from a practical consideration: we have two persimmon trees in our yard. The bigger one is pictured in the featured image of this post. Both bore fruit last year and, believe me, it was a lot of fruit, and that without the slightest effort on our part. What do you do with the fruit you can’t eat fresh? Jam, obviously.
The idea of persimmon jam for new friends stuck with me. I thought it could make a nice symbol of friendship as a whole. And why not? There’s enough existing symbolism around persimmons, I’m sure. I have a vague memory of it being the actual apple in the Garden of Eden that caused all the trouble. In any case, there is no reason why I can’t add my own symbolism to a certain fruit and there’s no fruit more suitable than the persimmon.
I don’t know if you know this but the best way to eat a persimmon is after it has softened. When you pick it from the tree, it’s hard and shiny. You set it aside and it begins to ripen and soften. Some call it rot but it doesn’t rot, it ripens. Once it’s soft and a deeper orange, it’s ready to eat. When picked, persimmons are sour and bitter. When they soften, the flesh becomes sweet like honey. I’m pretty sure the nectar of the gods in Greece was actually persimmons. So was ambrosia.
Just like persimmons, friendships develop and ripen. It take years rather than the several weeks it would take a persimmon to ripen but we can’t have everything easy. And I see so many people online as potential friends. It’s not that I’m in a rush to make new friends the way I was in middle school. Yet from what I’ve been seeing in the world lately, having like-minded individuals to talk to is the virtual equivalent of vitamins. You can’t have your health without them especially when you live in an unhealthy environment. I like my vitamins, that’s all.
So, that’s the other big reason to plan more blogging and more writing. I want to find more like-minded individuals. People I would be glad to offer some persimmon jam to should they happen in my part of the world. Persimmons, in case you’re wondering, are packed with all sorts of vitamins, yes.
And the goat? Oh, that’s a family plan. When we leave the city — meaning when it gets too crowded to breathe — we’re going to the country year-round. And we’re getting a goat. I discussed it with Mr. Slav who, unlike me, has hands-on experience in agriculture from his childhood and says chickens are too much hassle and cows are too big (and I’m afraid of cattle) but a goat would be a great natural lawnmower/pet/portable dairy. Did I say I like dual use things? I do. Triple use is even better.
Have a great New Year!