New Year's Day 2012

Last year on this date I was in a glorious house in the Hollywood Hills, convalescing from the effects of free-pour gin at a Bootie party. Awesome. Today I'm writing this in rainy Toronto, listening to the CBC with a napping boyfriend beside me. Both have their merits. Okay, full disclosure: I'm a bit hungover today as well. That may explain some run-on thoughts in this post.

I like to do my year-end wrap up stuff on the 1st, because who knows what kind of crazy stuff can happen between Xmas and New Years. Nothing crazy happened. I did finish a couple books over the break though, so those made it onto the Read List.

I wrote things this year that got a little bit of attention, which was pretty great. I was, in a way, long-listed on the Canada Writes True Winter Tales contest* (they called it "featured"). I actually didn't think I had a chance of winning, because I assumed they were looking for a more Vinyl Cafe feel-good kind of story (and indeed they were). It was a lovely surprise to be featured, but of course a let-down not to make the short list. I also wrote a quick blog post for Shameless Magazine that got quite a wide and appreciative response (surprising me quite a bit). This is encouraging stuff. The feedback makes me want to keep trying. I still can't write fiction, but I think maybe I shouldn't even try. Last night a friend said (jokingly, and with wine involved) "fiction is dead." I sure hope not, because I need it! However, her having said that lets me off the hook from this weird idea that I need to write fiction to be a "writer." Negotiating all this self-definition is terrifying for me, probably because the line between that and self-aggrandizement (or full-on delusion) is pretty thin, and stepping over makes you look like an asshole. Let's move on!

I read 64 books this year, which is more than any other year since I've been keeping track. I also counted poetry and plays in there, so maybe that's a bit of a cheat. Today I began to write a post like last year's about books I really enjoyed this year, but instead I think I'll just throw out some mini-reviews through this week on books that didn't get blogged in 2011, but should have. In the meantime, click here for all the books I read this year.

Happy New Year, pals. Thanks, always, for taking the time to read here. It's nice to know I'm not shouting into a void.

*Adapted from the original post here.

6 comments:

Megan said...

Happy new year, Panic!

queen B said...

Happy New Year! I don't think that counting poetry and plays is cheating at all. 1) I'm dating a poet; and 2) I adore reading plays. Also, both of these genres are part of the GGs, so why not include them? I read in French and those books are included in my total, too.

I've really enjoyed your posts this year, and look forward to 2012's new discoveries. Cheers!

Ben said...

Like queen B, I’ll throw in my support for plays and poetry counting toward your total. Both are certainly literature, and while I admit a bias in favour of novels, that doesn’t mean I refuse to acknowledge the worth of those other two forms. They have their own merits, their ability to move and transform you, and if that shouldn’t count, then I don’t know what does.

I missed your blog post on Shameless! :( Alas I subscribe to so many blogs that I often tend to be less-than-observant while skimming the titles of unread articles, and so that one slipped past me. I have rectified this error and must congratulate you on such a well-written piece.

This year I have also contemplated my relationship with writing. Unlike you I do want to write fiction, but I did not actually write much fiction in 2011. Previously I’ve made several starts on novels, some of them probably even worthy of finishing—one day. But this was my busiest year of university I’ve ever had, which has not left me with much energy to devote to fiction. And with this being my last year of university, after which I will suddenly find myself in “the real world”, I’ve been trying to come to terms with how little real-world experience I have, a fact that reflects itself in my fiction.

I have to laugh at the idea of you sounding like an asshole though. I love reading your writing. You write so well about your experiences, especially when relating them to something you’ve read, but you don’t mystify those experiences. Some people seem to write about the colour blue as if they are the only ones who have ever seen the true colour blue, and somehow we’re all peons who have had to put up with a pale imitation all our lives. That’s when my asshole alarm starts going off, because when people start suggesting I can’t possibly empathize with them, I start to wonder why I should bother trying.

But don’t worry. In the unlikely event you ever do step over that line, we will be here. Watching. Waiting. And we will be ready. *has the digital water pistol on standby*

Panic said...

Happy new year, ya'll!

The thing with not "counting" poetry and plays, is just that for me they read for more quickly (which means I'm probably doing poetry "wrong") than novels do. It's not a qualitative judgement, but saying "64 books" is different from "64 novels." That's all I meant. Cheating on the page count, not the experience! ;)

Ben, I read your "how I read so much post." I think we'd probably wind up with similar totals if I could spend more time reading.
It's not that I don't want to write fiction, it's that I don't have that ability (yet?). But of course, there are so many things that one can write, why does that seem so important to me? Probably because it's what I read so much of, so it seems like it should be natural. It's just not.

"Some people seem to write about the colour blue as if they are the only ones who have ever seen the true colour"

Yep. There are other facets to it too. It's something I'm conscious of because I've seen it -- we've all seen in -- and I just know how (probably unreasonably) it annoys the crap out of me. In don't want to be hypocritical about that. ;)

Steph said...

You totally don't have to write fiction to be a writer!! Throw that out the window right now. I love reading essays, for example, though I do typically find non-fiction difficult. But I think even if you never write a piece of fiction in your life you're just as much a writer. Maybe even more. I don't know. Who cares? There's all sorts of debate on what it means to be a writer, and I think maybe there's just too much pretense and being cool wrapped up in there somewhere too. So in the end, I think, meh, just write what you want, what you enjoy writing. Screw labels. You write.

Panic said...

I think maybe there's just too much pretense and being cool wrapped up in there somewhere too.
You're not wrong. :)