Saturday, December 31, 2011


Until we meet again

Here comes another New Year's Eve. We usually opt for a quiet evening in, and this time around is no exception. I have no specific resolutions this year, other than the usual wordless hopes that seem to gather around me like friendly ghosts whenever I ponder my general situation and choices in life. This past year I think I've been so good I can hardly stand it. What else could I work on, or improve - physically, spiritually, morally? (Everything?? Again???) That seems like the kind of question, and the kind of pressure, I just don't need right now. I tell myself that I'm already doing what I am able to, and as long as I can, I will continue to do so. In short, I will remain as resolute as I always have been. So that's it then?

Well. Of course there's always something, though, isn't there, some lingering unfulfilled desire that continues to nudge at one until one takes action. I do have one specific wish, I won't call it a resolution, and I hope during the year ahead I will discover in myself the willpower to bring it to fruition: the completion of my memoir about reading, books, and the bookshop. I have a manuscript. It is five years old, flawed, and has no story, no plot to speak of. I need to add to it, rearrange it, and create closure. I know I have it in me to get this done to my own satisfaction, no matter what happens with it after that.

With this in mind, I will be taking a break from blogging for a while. Part of the fresh start that the New Year brings should always involve letting oneself off the hook, I feel, and any writing I do this winter I hope will be with a pen, on paper, with the goal of finishing this manuscript firmly in mind. If I pull this off, you'll be among the first to know. I'll be back, of course, if I have any noteworthy news. I have many other book ideas, also languishing, and am still painting, keeping my diaries, and buying and selling old books. Life goes on and for the umpteenth time I worry that my best ideas will remain merely ideas. Less than helpful, I realize, so I am going to attempt to concentrate on one page at a time and see what happens.

But as I cast around for ways to bring my bookish memoir around the bases to the general vicinity of home plate, naturally I want to postpone any actual writing, by reading instead. I just finished this, and found it very helpful:

The Autobiographer's Handbook: The 826 National Guide to Writing Your Memoir
edited by Jennifer Traig, introduction by Dave Eggers (Holt 2008). It's full of timely advice and heartening encouragement from the likes of Elizabeth Gilbert, Sean Wilsey, Tobias Wolff, Nick Hornby, et al - concrete suggestions on how to get it down, in whatever form best suits your story. I can't recommend this book highly enough. It has almost convinced me that I can finish writing this damn book of mine, the one I want to be the first of many, god willing. If you are considering buying a copy of the above, please get it directly from 826 National, so your purchase will directly benefit this great group of tutoring and writing centers. And then listen to Dave Eggers's TED talk about how these centers came to be. Inspiring is often an overused word, but not by me, and so I use it here.

In conclusion - Happy New Year. Blessings on the year ahead. Let's welcome the slow but certain return of brighter days. Final words for a while, from a note in the fine book A Woman on Paper: Georgia O'Keeffe - The Letters and Memoirs of a Legendary Friendship by Anita Pollitzer (Simon & Schuster 1988), quoting Alfred Stieglitz as he writes to Hart Crane (p.252):

"We are all after Light. So let us seek it together in an unsentimental spirit."

A year of blessings Sarah.

But, do stay in touch!
And to you dear Antony - no worries, I will write here again. (Too compulsive not to.)
Sarah - be well & be happy. And when you finish the book, I would like to read it. So let us know. Kathleen
Kathleen, thanks for the note, I am making some progress with the ms, though perhaps January was not the most auspicious month to choose to rework it. So stark and cold, here in Maine, this time of year. I am doing my best not to be a glum bunny, however. Happy New Year to you.
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