The Anti-List List

A friend of mine tweeted last week that he was compiling his top ten list of top ten lists for 2010. We get it: It’s exciting and SEO-friendly and clever given the final two digits of this year to compile lists. But the truth is, we spent a whole year living this year, why drag it out? I, for one, am looking forward to 2011, and am in full support of others creating more proactive lists, like HTMLGiant’s “Do These Right Things.”  I’m writing goals for my writing and my reading, and I’m more than interested to hear what yours are. Don’t confuse this, I’m not talking resolutions, the dreaded word that drums up words like “diet” and “gym” and “anger management classes” like in those Bing! commercials. No, I’m talking about goals and productive uses of our sometimes inane tendency to compartmentalize and organize useless-to-organize things like time.

Here are a few of mine:

1. Revise and complete at least five stories to submit.

2. Visit the library on Monday evenings and Saturday mornings to read AgniThe New Yorker, Plougshares, and The Paris Review. (TAKE NOTES.)

3. Read two to three books a month. Review one a month.

4. Create a schedule for reading and interacting with other book blogs, book bloggers, and fiction writers.

5. Get new ribbon for my typewriter and send working stories to trusted friends.

6. Write more letters. Even if they don’t write back.

7. Travel to DC, England, New Orleans, Miami, and Seattle.

Like I said, those are just a few. The list will grow and shrink and be crumpled up and thrown at a wall as the year progresses. The important part is that I spend more time doing the things it contains rather than focusing on perfecting it.

So tell us your lists: of books, of goals, of recipes you want to try, of literary magazines you plan to subscribe or submit to (or both).

– M

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6 thoughts on “The Anti-List List

  1. Nice list! So far mine looks like this…
    1. Subscribe to at least 2 more short story magazines
    2. Write at least a few hundred words each day, even if they have nothing to do with a current story I’m working on
    3. Finally get that library card I’ve been talking about
    4. Visit D.C., San Francisco, and NYC.

  2. Thanks for sharing! What magazines are you thinking of subscribing to? May I suggest One Story?

    Number 2 is a great one, and I haven’t quite mastered the word count quota yet. Something about adding numbers to it makes me nervous.

    Number 3: Library cards are essential! I’ve officially converted from buying any book I want to read to screening it at the library first. It’ll make moving much easier the next time, and is definitely a savior to my wallet.

    Good luck with all those!

    – Mel

  3. I actually already subscribe to One Story and I love it! I subscribed some friends to – the format is so handy the purse or pocket. I really want to subscribe to The Ohio State University’s Journal since I graduated from there.

    I moved to Chicago last year and keep meaning to get a library card every weekend, but it just never happens. I think if the library was in walking distance, it would have been done a long time ago. Unfortunately, there’s a used bookstore below my apt and a Borders across the street.

  4. I did a whole bunch of literary related resolutions this year, so I guess I’ll list those:

    1) Read at least 100 books this year and keep a reading journal. (Already through book one [“Super Sad True Love Story”] and into Book 2 [“Motherless Brooklyn”]).

    2) Keep a writing journal and write in it often. (starting with 3x a week and moving up from there). Also carry a small journal with you at all times (I use Picadilly notebooks because they are awesome.)

    3) Write at least 500 words a day 5 days a week (and then try to get it up to 1500 words a day by the end of the year).

    4) And my longshot resolution: relearn how to read Spanish and read Borges in his original language.

    And I have one non-literary one

    5) Eat more and more vegetarian meals and be a weekday vegetarian by the end of Summer.

    No exercise goals because of my neurological problems of the past several months, though I have been getting on the gazelle a bit when I feel up to it.

  5. Oh, and I really like the idea of writing letters. I’d actually like to see a working group of writers start up letter writing. When we’re all gone, there will be no collections of letters to remember us by! How sad.

  6. Joe,

    I know just what you mean! I have several friends with whom I keep up a pretty regular handwritten correspondence. It’s like an interactive journal! Here’s to keeping thoughtful letter writing alive in 2011!


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