Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

I'm not afraid of you, 2008!

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Ah, a new year is finally upon us. A whole new year, a whole new set of resolutions, a whole new set of outright lies intended to delude ourselves into believing we have the will to change.

Yes, I’m bitter about my 2007 performance, couldn’t you tell? I finally read Moby Dick, but all the other resolutions, the running more, eating less, etcetera? Bupkis.

But this is supposed to be a literary blog, full of deep and penetrating insight, like Rub A5-35 for the mind. So let’s dispense with the usual promises; the blogosphere is chock-o-block full of everyone’s meanderings on their resolutions for 2008, and as much as I adore myself, I believe that the percentage of peoples interested in my resolve to eat less/work out more can, at best, only be in the low teens.

Let’s make some resolutions that address what this blog is about: writing. That’s what they told me, anyway.

But first, don’t make a resolution that you can’t keep, i.e. a resolution to get published. By all means try your best, but such a resolution puts your ambitions in the hands of others, and may eventually lead to depression and/or demoralization.

Resolution #1 – Read more books.

This may seem like an obvious choice, but no one was ever hurt by reading (I have no statistics to back this up), and I am a firm believer in reading as much as humanly possible. Any writer who doesn’t read to excess is in no danger of improving. So, in 2008, read more than you read in 2007. Be a gourmand, be a glutton. If you need incentive, there’s the Canadian Book Challenge at the blog The Book Mine Set. The object is to read at least thirteen Canadian books by Canada Day, and review them on your blogs. It gets you reading, and gets the word out on all the talent we have in the Canadian wilderness, nestling in the snow. The moderator has handily included a list of novels from every province and territory, if that’s your thing. Or, try to read thirteen books by Ontario publishers. The choice is yours. Prizes for whoever wins include a cornucopia of Canadiana: a hockey puck, a David Bergen novel, and a box of KD.

Or join a book club. Don’t just read a book, but talk about it. Seek out themes and motifs you may have missed. Argue over the merits/demerits of Atwood, Munro, and Cohen. Your local library may have some hints on clubs you can join.

Resolution #2 – Write more.

Again, an obvious choice, but vital to the writer who wants to someday be published. Set up a time to write every day, and stick to it. I would never deign to lecture on the utter importance of this, as I am the laziest writer this side of Thomas Pynchon (a novel every 10 years? Come on!). But take heart through the example of Cory Doctorow, Canadian author, sci-fi icon, and deity of the internet. He wrote his second novel Eastern Standard Tribe at a rate of 250 words a day. What would that take, fifteen minutes? Twenty? Start now, and by December 31, 2008, you’ll have 91250 words. It’ll need work, but at least you’ll be at a rewrite stage, not staring blankly at the empty virtual page on your screen.

Other incentives for writing can be contests. Seek them out; force yourself to enter whatever you have. The Writers’ Union of Canada has many such contests for short stories. Or, for a bigger prize, consider the 3-Day Novel Contest. Held every Labour Day weekend, it is a three-day wordfest of equal parts inspiration, panic, and caffeine. The winning entry gets published, and if you don’t win, you’ll at least have a 20,000 word manuscript to expand upon. Or participate in National Novel Writing Month, and try to write 50,000 words in the month of November.

And keep track of your progress. Be honest. A neat widget for blogs is the Zokutou Word Meter, which allows you a visual approximation of how much you’ve written so far.

Resolution #3 – Have a goal in mind.

By this, I mean concentrate on your ultimate goal. Are you writing short stories, or a novel? What’s the genre? Answer these questions, and aim yourself accordingly. Time to knuckle down; no more wavering between stories, having several on the go, picking and choosing what you’re going to work on this day. Choose one, push yourself, and finish it. Do the research you need, don’t let it slide. If you do want to get published, you’d better have a finished work; very few publishers will take an unfinished manuscript from a first-timer.

So, there it is – your 2008 resolution list. Think of how much time I just saved you. Slide these between your promises to hit the gym more often, pass on the venti triple-mocha frappucino, and ask your boss for that raise/promotion/vacation you so desperately want/deserve. And remember; 2009 is only 365 days away. It’ll be here quick.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Corey Redekop

Corey Redekop, author of the critically acclaimed novel Shelf Monkey, is a librarian and freelance writer. He lives in Thompson, Manitoba.

Go to Corey Redekop’s Author Page