Friday, January 27, 2012


My resolutions for 2011 were to read 20 books, write one book, get a full-time job and visit Scotland. I accomplished none of these things. In a majority of categories, 2011 was a failure for me. Thankfully, the categories of life of not weighted equally, so the areas in which I succeeded -- relationships, primarily -- easily covered for the deficiencies of others. I don't tend to remember specific years, nor to measure my life by them, but I suppose that if I did 2011 would be the year in which I fell in love and not much else.

There aren't so many days left in January, so I feel it may be a bit late to be talking about my resolutions for 2012, but, hey, each moment is new. So, I don't really need to hit a specific day to set myself toward a goal. Besides, maybe I'm going by the Chinese calendar, in which case these resolutions are timely; Chinese New Year was Monday and, traditionally, celebrations for the event last eight days.

Apparently, this is a year of the dragon. I was born in the year of the dragon that was 1976, so am hoping this will bode well for my 2012. This is my year, bitches. And in it I am hoping to read 12 books, write one book, get a full-time job and visit Scotland.

Twelve books:
My failure to meet even 1/5 of my target last year resulted in my lowering my literature expectations for 2012. I honestly don't know what went wrong with me. Off the top of my head I can only remember reading three books -- Pigs in Heaven, by Barbara Kingsolver; A Hole in Texas, by Herman Wouk; and The Rembrandt Bomb, by James Moore -- but I'm pretty sure there was a fourth. I think perhaps I can blame my lack of external input on the shifts occurring internally. Slowly, and in such a way I can't really identify yet beyond simple awareness of its having occurred, I underwent a kind of foundational shift in 2011. The most obvious example I can give is the way in which I effectively divorced myself from the Welsh-language world. Two days after my birthday, I made a conscious decision: "I don't really care about this stuff anymore."
I don't know. This idea of flux causing me not to read may be bullshit. I am the one positing the theory and I struggle to make it connect.
Regardless of why it happened, I read very little in 2011 and in looking at 2012, I decided I should try not to set myself up for disappointment and therefore lowered the bar. Already this year, however, I am en route to achieving my goal. Whereas four books were read in the whole of last year, I am now reading my fifth book of 2012. Long train journeys to work, and a Kindle from Mom and Dad, have served as catalyst.
By the way, did you also get a Kindle for Christmas? You did? Then, why not get my novel: The Way Forward.

One book:
I can't remember when I started to seriously formulate Tales of a Toffee-Covered Llama, the book I am working on presently. A year ago, I was intending to complete Sgidiau Caerdydd, a Welsh-language novel about an Iraq War veteran who sells his car to God. I had already written roughly 30,000 words of the novel for my masters degree. But whereas the Cardiff University School of Welsh referred to it as fresh, well-structured and wholly new, Welsh-language publishers Y Lolfa referred to it as too edgy to sell. Welsh-language publishers Gwasg Gomer, who had published my book Cwrw am Ddim, simply refused to respond to my correspondence.
The thing is, I am not an edgy writer. I'd like to think that I am able to approach themes in a fresh way, but by and large I don't think I have ever written something that could honestly be described as edgy, let alone too edgy. The Welsh-language world is lost, so badly killing itself with refusal to glance forward that a guy who draws most of his inspiration from Dave Barry is deemed too edgy. It is comically sad.
And, yes, I am bitter.
But, any hoosiers, the project was dropped. I've had a handful of people suggest to me that the reasons for rejection are exactly why I should push forward with the novel -- fighting to get the book published so that something new exists in a field full of literature that repels all but the most nationalist of Welsh speakers with its torpidity. But, honestly, why?
I am not a Welsh nationalist; Welsh is not my language; Wales is not my country; the Welsh are not my people. Why should I expend so much energy on such a project? If I am going to burn myself up in trying, it is wiser and more profitable (emotionally and financially) to do so attempting to find foothold in the saturated English world.
I managed to draw up a rough outline of Tales of a Toffee-Covered Llama, and a few thousand words, by October, but for the most part whatever it was that kept me from reading was also keeping me from writing. I languished until late December, when my agent on The Way Forward got in touch and asked if I was up to anything new. That and my first Christmas home since 2005 have served as a push and I am now, slowly, getting up to speed with Tales. I am hoping to have a solid first draft completed by May, though I have no idea whether this is a realistic timeline, nor why I would choose May as a due date.

A full-time job:
Part of my problem is that for a certain portion of 2011 I was limiting my job search to those where I could make daily use of the Welsh language. In Welsh-language teaching we always claim that Welsh will help you get a job, but I have found this to be bullshit. Unless the job you want is that of a ragged, underpaid, drowned-in-idiot-paperwork Welsh tutor. Even after mentally divorcing myself from the Welsh language I was still trying to play friends with privileges with her, so it was not until the later stages of 2011 that I started to really expand my search beyond Welsh-language opportunities.
Now, I have expanded my search beyond Wales -- to Bristol, Bath, etc. -- and set a rule for myself that, bare minimum, I must apply for one job a week. If I find myself a year from now still without full employment I will at least be able to comfort myself in a blanket of 52 rejections.

Visit Scotland:
How long have I lived in Britain? It is sad and ridiculous that I have never been to Scotland. It is right and logical that I've never been to Scunthorpe, but Scotland? What's wrong with me? Partially, I'm going to lay the blame on the above employment situation. I ain't gots no money, bitches, and that makes travel particularly tricky. On top of this, homesickness seems to consume me at an alarming rate, so any time there is money at hand it is spent on trips to the United States.
I am forced to concede that this resolution is this year again dependent upon the fulfilment of another; I have not yet taken any steps toward planning a Scottish venture. I am hopeful that this dragon year will be my year, that work and money will be found, and that this and all the other resolutions will be met. The next 11 months will tell the story.

(I can't help but be aware of a grumpiness running through this post. As I was writing it I heard a builder working on the café across the street scream, "Oh! Fuck!" and the sound of power tools suddenly stop. I looked out the window to see him, gripping his arm, run to a van with a co-worker and be sped off, their tools still lying in the road. Whatever my laments, I can probably be thankful I am not that guy.)

1 comment:

S said...

Grumpy as that post was, it still made me smile.