December 15, 2008KR BlogWriting

A Resolution

The January issues of women’s magazines are already on news stands, and almost all of them promise the secrets to getting rid of all that holiday fat are within their glossy pages. (I am particulary fond of the “Eat This, Not That…” pages. I could eat a fat-laden muffin or 30 bowls of oatmeal!) The new year is the obvious time to refresh and restart–to craft a new self out of a list of unrealistic goals: Lose 20 pounds. Get up earlier. Run another mile. Watch less television.

My 2009 self will not be on a diet, and she will certainly not climb out of bed to get to the gym. Instead, I resolve to keep the Golden Rule in mind as I send out fresh shipments of stories and essays for magazines editors to read. In the past, the Golden Rule roughly translated to: “Do not push boys on the playground–even if they have it coming–because you would not like anyone to push you on the playground–even if you have it coming.” This code of considerate behavior remains valuable–actually golden.

How will I apply it now? My 2008 self (frayed and worn around the edges) has received several notices from One Story, regarding the end of my subscription. Ever since I moved to a new apartment, I’ve been losing track of those tiny self-contained issues. I’ve submitted two stories to the magazine–and received two email rejections.

My 2008 self has also run out of issues of The Missouri Review. I’ve pretended I would actually peruse the contents of those issues, but now is the time to admit I only received them in the first place because I entered their annual contest. I kept my eye firmly fixed on the $3000 fiction prize, and the subscription was a mere consolation.

My 2008 self has “borrowed” literary magazines from office buildings and read bits and pieces of Poetry in Borders without paying for the entire issue.

Yet, my 2008 self has also complained about the difficulty of finding someone to publish a story. I have been concerned with the lines on my CV and whether or not certain credits can make my credentials shine that much brighter in my search for work. And so my New Year’s resolution is to banish the part of me that neither reads nor appreciates creative work. Following the Golden Rule, I should read if I’d like to be read. I should value the writing of others and hope that my work can prove valuable.

I write stories to give them away, to connect to other people across all sorts of boundaries. I read stories to know and understand other voices. My 2008 self lost sight of that kind of human magic–the power to bend language to our will. Yes, rejection letters are frustrating, and it can be difficult to wrangle enough time to read every word in every issue. But I should try. That’s my resolution.