Friday, 2 January 2015

The Failure of New Year Resolutions

Remember all those New Year Resolutions I made last year? Me neither! The results are so awful I prefer to forger them. I did not read 10 plays; I did not finish reading José Saramago's 4 remaining books; I did not read books from 30 countries; I did not read a book in Italian for practice. Oh, and the one about reducing my book pile to 100 books? A year ago I had 130 books; now I have 225. Maybe I've been going about this the wrong way: what I need is to aim to reach 300 books - then I could easily achieve one resolution at least! Wait a minute, wait a minute! I read 3 books from Jorge Luis Borges' A Personal Library and The Library of Babel: Gustav Meyrink's Der Kardinal Napellus, Pedro Antonio de Alarcon's El Amigo de la Muerte, and Marcel Schwob's Brief Lives. Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

Oh, I also pretty much failed at all my reading challenges: I started 20014 Women Challenge and 2014 European Reading Challenge, but then abandoned them for lack of time and disposition. I didn't even begin 2014 Books on France Reading Challenge. For that reason I’ve decided there will be no reading challenges and no New Year Resolutions at St. Orberose in 2015. I’m taking it easier this year. As some of you may have noticed, around midyear blogging became difficult, my output decreased and I struggled not to give up on the blog altogether. I think you all deserve at least an explanation.

I’m writing a novel. I’ve been writing it since September 2013. I finished the first draft circa November 2013 and it was such a piece of shit dung beetles could have mistook it for a bistro. Despondent, distressing thoughts overwhelmed as I realized I was on the right track to achieved what I so vehemently did not want to achieve: contributing another worthless, useless, insignificant, mediocre novel to a world already obese with them. So I revised. Then I revised some more. And more. I’m currently going through what I think is my fifth, and hopefully last, draft. It currently has some 270,000 words and it’s either going to be one of the greatest novels ever written in the Portuguese language, or it’s going to be such a big pile of shit you can fertilize the whole of Sahara with it. That’ll be decided in this definitive draft. I think. I hope. 

From year to year I’ve become more and more obsessed with perfecting my novel. I notice a growing sense of urgency in doing a great work, a necessity of putting the best I have in me in its execution, and an ongoing fear that no matter how much I work it’ll continue to be another worthless, useless, insignificant, mediocre novel the world could do without. Be that as it may, I’ve noticed changes in me. Honestly, I think writing a novel is doing strange, bad things to my head: I’ve stopped going to the cinema, I feel anxiety when I have to go to work because it’s time wasted, I’ve become grouchier around people because I’m with them instead of with my novel, I’ve lost sense of most things happening around me, I spend more time worrying about finding a word than about people’s problems. This callousness would perturb me a lot more if the actual act of writing didn’t fill me with so much joy. Because the truth is: the more I write, the more I enjoy writing. Inventing dialogues, coming up with events, playing with words, doing the research and then fitting it in the narrative, overcoming technical problems, once in a while deluding myself I’ve written something worthwhile, these are balms against a sadness I generally have around me. The turning point, the moment when I really accepted I had to give everything to my novel, occurred halfway through 2014 and that’s why I reduced my blogging. At least until February or March I won’t blog a lot, but I’m not giving up St. Orberose. I really like this place and the fine people who visit it, who are also one of my balms, and I thank you all for brightening my life and for inspiring me to be a better, more demanding reader.


  1. I didn't notice you blogged less last year! A novel is something great to lose oneself into. Good luck on it. I hope you'll keep us updated on its status.

    1. You can tell from the number of posts per month; I barely kept it alive.

      Any significant event novel-wise, I'll let everyone know :)