Resolving to Resolve

December 15, 2013

Reflections on Resolutions Made for 2013

2013 closes: ten resolutions for the year stare me in the face. For some reason – a possible swell of optimism at the end of 2012 – I held a positive view that I could and would accomplish a lot in the new year. How did I do?

To begin, I was very good about documenting what I attempted. Accordingly, I perused the list from time to time in hope that the challenge and inevitability of deadlines would encourage attentiveness. I admit to difficulty. My journal, spotty in itself, grows large with mea culpas for lack of accomplishment as I berate myself. Compared to my ambitions, I remain a slacker.

Here goes.

>1: Be more discerning in use of time.

Proficient use of time remains the essential challenge. I finish most days with regret. I have been lazy, foolish, misdirected. I moan as I retire to bed, chastising myself for falling behind schedule. I realize now that this primary resolution is vague, imprecise, and therefore without measurement. At base, I have a tendency to do the easy and habitual things before the ones that require more application. At least, I finally realize I am running out of time and may not live to be 100 as expected.

>2. Finish writing at least one novel to my satisfaction, likely The Rodi first.

With the online writing class that I took December 2012 into January 2013, I felt a new urgency to complete one of the novels I have left adrift. A couple years previous, I identified drafts of 12 novels in various stages of incompleteness. The Rodi, the story of the early life of Vodarodi up to the founding of Loria, exists as I left it in 1980-1981. I had tried a trilogy, composed of his whole life; unfortunately, the latter two parts lack dramatic impact. Still, the first story would work with benefit of close editing. Also, it stands first in a long series of projected novels that pivot the history of Loria. Unfortunately, as is often the case with me, I started wandering through the earlier background and suddenly found myself working on The Company of Seidor. Seidor is the founder of the culture from which Vodarodi and Loria are the primary inheritors. Of course, rooting Company becomes in itself a mammoth task that requires me to invent, discover, or conclude the pre-existing situation and in sufficient detail to furnish the story. I am once more thrashing about. For more background, see Loria Series.

>3. Read more books, at least 20 works of literature.

I am perpetually curious, usually about the fundamentals of issues and other subjects that help me to grasp why we are in the midst of situations as they presently daunt us. I have about 6,000 titles in my personal library that constitute a reference resource when I suddenly have to know something more profoundly and readily than I can find by other means. Mostly, therefore, I read many books only in part for aspects pertinent to my questioning. Otherwise, for  literature I want to read entire works. I thought 20 a doable number because in practice I read 11 issues a year of Poetry magazine and ten novels in the book club Classics for Pilgrim. I also read the plays we see at the Stratford (Ontario) Theatre Festival. I might manage a few other titles besides. This year the novels, plays and poetry books in the order read are:

Penelope Lively, How It All Began. Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness. Grahame Greene, The Power and the Glory. Robert Penn Warren, All the Kings Men. William Golding, Lord of the Flies. Tom Hennen, Darkness Sticks to Everything. Robert E. Hanson, Warrior Poets. Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot. Noel Coward, Blithe Spirit. Fredrick Schiller, Mary Queen of Scots. William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure and Othello. Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems; v.2. Owen Wister, The Virginian. Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio. Sinclair Lewis, Main Street. Edith Wharton, Age of Innocence.

I also read entire two short non-fiction books: Antonio Maldo, Do You Believe? Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak. Also a major biography by Anne C. Heller, Ayn Rand.

If I manage to better superintend my life, I expect to read more in 2014.

>4. Write more blog posts for Classics, Books Read, Marriage Equality, Highlights.

Again, I have not made the progress I wanted. After a major endeavor to chronicle my online writing course experience a year ago, I have not finished that article. I have failed to update the new listings for Classics. I did review the two short non-fiction books read. (See Read in 2013.) And I did evaluate the plays seen at Stratford. (See Stratford Theatre Festival.) Mostly, I faithfully update the year’s additions to my library. I have spent time on a new blog, Marriage Arguments, without really moving on from the flooring. Neither have I organized all the clippings I gathered over the last three years. At least our efforts for marriage equality in Minnesota came to a successful conclusion. (See Marriage Arguments.)

>5. Get all of my papers out of the jumble of boxes and into organized files.

Despite minor progress, the jumble remains. I can organize a whole box of stuff when I push myself, but progress is painfully slow. I throw away a lot of debris in the process but mostly lack empty file space to place the desired records. I am saving for a couple more 4-drawer file cabinets. I need to explore going to digital files specifically for the stuff I create.

>6. Ride my bicycle every week when the temperature is above 50°F.

Hardly enough. I rode more for the few days I visited Robert Hanson in Wisconsin and when we were together at our 55 year high school class reunion than biking the rest of the year. Pathetic!

>7. Write 3-4 short stories and send them out.

I made a start. I have ideas for stories of imaginative fiction and identified The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction as a possible place to send them first.  Capsule descriptions follow. People have become used to everything “In the Twinkling of an Eye.”  What explains the rise in retirements (suicides) among those living “More Abundantly.” Adolf Hitler and Franz Kafka meet one night in “Coincidence.” Nietzsche’s sister Elizabeth encounters the descendants of Frankenstein’s creature and wife in “The Overman.” An author’s dictation machine makes suggestions how his stories will be improved in “Vox ex Machina.” In “Franklin DC,” the future is different since Benjamin Franklin lived to become the first U.S. president.

>8. Cultivate a 12×15 foot garden plot to grow vegetables and flowers that resist pests?

We did not have the Asian beetles of the previous year: the lot produced salad tomatoes and red onions in abundance plus one squash. Assorted marigolds and dusty miller sets did well. It took a lot of weeding and watering and time away from the preceding endeavors. I decided not to do it again. Because of three weeks away in August, I failed to make green tomato pickles this year and am now out. Curses!

>9. Brush up on my French and Latin and make a start with German.

Alas, only a wish. Future travel plans require an intense effort in Norwegian instead.

>10. Keep my pledge not to serve on committees.

More good intentions. I see I can no longer chair Pilgrim’s garden committee since I do not live close enough for regular supervision. I do answer every call to facilitate Bible reading and conversation plus other special events – a Lenten reflection, St. Paul Area Synod Assembly, Pastor Carol’s 25th anniversary of ordination, and likely organize Classics for Pilgrim book club the rest of my life. MACAE successfully dissolved this year, then held a luncheon reunion of past members. I did take on the AAUW Minnesota Nominating Committee and subsequently agreed to chair.

So what have I learned? 10 is not a magic number. Prioritize. Focus. Improve habits. Attend. Chunk. Keep to schedule. Reflectively journal more.

What’s next? See Resolutions for 2014.

Copyright © 2013 by Roger Sween.

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