poetry, Uncategorized

Against Resolutions

pencil_redDon’t get me wrong: Anyone who has read this blog for a while knows that in years past, I’ve posted the “obligatory” writing resolutions post. This year, however, I have a new perspective. Not only are resolutions cliche, they are made to be broken. “I’m going to ________ this year” ensures that most likely, the sayer of the statement will not, in fact, do whatever filled in the blank. Resolutions, because they seem forced and common, fail for the very reasons people make them in the first place. Every January 1, people around the world become motivational lemmings, jumping over the same cliff as their fellow resolutioneers. Research proves that, for the most part, people fail at keeping these well-intended goals. “Everybody’s doing it” doesn’t stop at high school, and the broken resolutions of the majority prove that the artificiality of popular sentiment will not sustain us individually as we seek after objectives in our personal and professional lives.

So as a writer, to say, “I resolve to (get my new manuscript published by Knopf, get work into The New Yorker, win the Pulitzer, etc.)” is a silly endeavor at best. One, because many of the victories of the writing life depend upon a healthy dose of reputation, timing and luck; and two, because we as authors and creators should be constantly resolving to put forth our best, not just at one time of the year. If we desire to really resolve something (in every sense of that word), it should be a daily effort rather than an annual one.

Do I have goals for 2014? Sure. Am I going to increase my likelihood of failure by framing those goals in the dime-store filigree of a resolution? Definitely not. Fellow reader, if you’ve made your resolutions for 2014, good for you. I wish you the richest of success in the year ahead. May you shed those pounds, quit smoking, write the next Dover Beach, or do whatever it is that this day inspires you toward. Best Wishes, Happy New Year, and Cheers. I’ll be at my desk.

poetry, Uncategorized

The Obligatory “Writing Resolutions” Blog Post

notebooknpenIt’s a bit of cliche to write a post entirely about “what I resolve to do in 2013.” However, that’s not stopping me from doing it. Disappointing, I know. But all the cool kids are doing it. So, here you have it: John Davis Jr.’s list of writing resolutions for the new year:

1. I have a book manuscript that has been sitting on my hard drive now for the better part of a year. I’ve submitted it around to various publishers and contests, revised it and polished it countless times, but still haven’t landed any “bites” yet. I resolve to get this book published in 2013.

2. In connection with resolution #1, I resolve NOT to self-publish said manuscript. Been there, done that, friends. It wasn’t a positive experience the first time around, so why would I intentionally subject myself to that negative encounter a second time?

3. One magazine publication per month, or at least 12 publication credits total in (fairly) reputable outlets. Sure, some months are more publication-heavy than others, and expecting to publish in at least one journal like clockwork every month would be unrealistic. However, seeking to publish at least 12 times over the course of an entire year is doable. Last year, I garnered about 10 publication credits total in magazines and online zines that are pretty good, so this year, I plan to up the ante a bit. If I fall short of the goal, it won’t be for lack of trying.

4. Enter at least six writing contests. My general rule is this: for every five magazine submissions I send out, I try to enter one contest. Some of these are respected and renowned competitions, others are fledgling. But no matter the prestige or the status, entering contests yields its own rewards: subscriptions to magazines, feedback from judges, and name placement are just a few of the perks that come with contest participation.

5. Build the network. By being in the MFA program, I have a number of great associates who provide candid, well-thought-out responses to my work. With that being said, I like hearing from people from all walks of life within the literary field. Editors, publishers, and professors are just a few of the folks whose opinions and thoughts I would like to encounter more. So, with that in mind, I plan to build out my writing network to include more people whose critical eyes are sharpest.

I think five resolutions should about do it — some believe in more, others believe in fewer. For my purposes at this juncture, however, these five goals should give me plenty of work for 2013. Here’s hoping that all my readers have a wonderful new year, as well. May it be filled with the pleasures and wonders that our world has to offer: Faith, Family, Friends, and incredible experiences. Happy New Year!