Thursday, January 21, 2021

I Hereby Resolve II from James W. Ziskin

Who wins when you and your copy editor or proofreader disagree about a word, a spelling, a term of slang, etc? Do you sometimes choose to lose a battle in order to win a larger war?

This is a question that calls for a short answer, at least from me. While we writers would love to have the last word, we also would hate to go it alone. I am so grateful for the input from the editor who has curated my seven Ellie Stones mysteries: Dan Mayer. He has razor-sharp instincts when it comes to selecting books to publish, and then he shepherds the books safely to market. The proof of his talent is the catalogue of writers he has edited in just the past eight years. Take a look at some of the folks he discovered, including our own Terry Shames:

Dan has never told me to change anything in my books. What he does is ask questions. He makes clear that some things aren’t working for him, or he doesn’t get it. That’s when I know I have fallen short. But Dan always leaves it to me to decide and to come up with the solutions. And I almost always listen because he’s almost always right. I check my ego at the door. I’m the writer, he’s the editor.

Now, as yesterday was a glorious day of new beginnings—and the dawn of the new year was only three weeks ago—I want to go off topic and re-post the poem I shared here almost exactly one year ago. I plan on re-posting this every year until someone names me poet laureate. Happy New Year.

I Hereby Resolve

Upon the first of Jan-u-ary each and every year
I choose a comfy cushioned chair on which to park my rear
Then taking pencil, pen, or plume I think with all my might
About my life, my hopes, my dreams and then begin to write

I make a note of all my flaws, my missteps, and my sins
And number them from one to ten and sort them into bins:
A catalogue of wishes, goals, and changes to achieve,
To lose some weight, to write more books, and royalties receive!

But not all thoughts are for myself, I also have a heart
So I resolve to do some good, pitch in, and play my part,
To be a better person and to help human-i-ty,
Or maybe just be satisfied to keep my san-i-ty

For all in all you must admit that things are not so good
At home, abroad, in Baltimore, and in your neighborhood
With guns and hate and politics and fears we cannot quell
It often seems we’re on a highway heading straight to hell 

But then I reason as I sit here in my pensive pose
Some things I can control and fix, so why not start with those?
My wrath, my sloth, and moods most foul are faults I could improve
Why not correct them right away? Cast out, erase, remove?

While in the past I must admit that my resolve was frail
This time my pledge is resolute; I don’t intend to fail
I vow to change, to grow, to thrive, and forge myself anew
And through hard work and sweat and blood I’ll make my dreams come true

But just in case my will is weak and my plans gang ag-ley
I’ll save this verse for twelve months more until next New Year’s Day
Then with high hopes and best intents I’ll shout for all to hear
The very same prom-is-es that I made and broke this year

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