Resolutions really should be grand, sweeping in scale. They need to embrace large scale effort, whether physical or psychic, and they need a point or purpose—even if the point is widely viewed as trivial. Resolutions should be pronounced as though they were forged on a mountain top, chipped into gleaming and everlasting stone.
The more daunting the resolution — I want to run 30 marathons in 2011, for example — the better. Because when I wake up in March and realize that I will not come close to keeping them, they’d better represent monumental failures. I know in advance that I will not keep them, so why fail at trivial matters — e.g., I will stop smoking this year. For failure to excite us truly, we need to fail on a grand scale. If I want to climb Mt. Everest — because of course it’s there — then I want to climb the world’s tallest peak without benefit of canned oxygen; that’s just the way it is.
That said, here are my 2011 resolutions as they pertain to the written word:
Read Proust, À la recherche du temps perdu, or In Search of Lost Time. In fact, read it twice, all seven volumes stuffed with approximately 1.5 million words. I think it was Truman Capote who said that reading Proust was like being hit by a tidal wave. If words were water, Lost Time would represent at least a couple of tidal waves. Also: be prepared to summarize its basic ideas. Note: try to squeeze in War and Peace, while I’m at it — just for the hell of it.
Write the following essays and have them published in the Journal for the American Medical Association (JAMA): “A Perverse Theory of Sleeplessness in the Fiction of James Joyce”; “Wallace Stevens and the Uninsured Mind”; and “Implications for Parkinson’s Sufferers in Ginsberg’s Late Poetry.” As a result, let these pieces be the impetus for JAMA to create a new award, in my name — the SF Award for Prolific Publication.