In Twelve Months of a Soviet Childhood: Short Stories, Julia Gousseva has written twelve captivating tales that capture a slice of life in the now-defunct Soviet Union. She begins with winter, the dreariest, yet the most colorful month in Moscow, with its New Year’s parties and colorful New Year trees. She then takes us, month by month, on a journey that she calls fictional, but must be in large part autobiographical. We see things through the eyes of a child, unvarnished and without adult filtering.
A captivating collection of tales, as I said; but, the book has some near-fatal flaws. First, the sans serif text is a bit on the difficult side to read. But, the ragged and inconsistent indentation of paragraphs is by far the most distracting. This is a potentially great collection of short fiction that could reach that greatness with a bit of judicious editing.
I’d love to give it four or five stars, but alas, the formatting flaws drop it down to really two and a half.
Every writer, in order to be successful, must be disciplined. One of the ways to become disciplined is to set goals and then work toward them. What are your writing goals for 2013? Will this be the year you finally make it out of the slush pile to the top of the editor’s stack? Join the discussion on my Amazon author’s page and share your goals with other like-minded individuals.
In just a few hours the year 2012 will be fodder for historians. We’ll then have to hunker down and begin the effort of facing 2013, and whatever the new year has in store for us.
I’ve spent most of the morning wrestling with what to write in my final 2012 blog. Should I rehash the momentous events of the year about to pass? Were there, in fact, even any momentous events?
We had a historic election. The nation’s first black president won reelection; not with an overwhelming mandate, but with a comfortable enough margin of victory to make it more than a mere fluke. But, he’s still faced with an implacably hostile House of Representatives; populated with enough hard core Tea Party activists to make getting rational legislation passed a task not to be envied, and a Senate that has a minority that will, from the difficulty we seen in getting a sane fiscal policy passed, continue to pose obstacles. Horrific acts of mindless violence, such as the slaughter of innocent children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, were a blot on us as a nation, and the response of the gun nuts just made it worse.
We saw 12/12/12 pass without notice, and the so-called Mayan Calendar Apocalypse predicted for December 21, 2012 was a non event.
Should I, instead, focus on what we could or should be doing for the coming year? Will it be better or worse? That would, unfortunately, involve making predictions; and, predicting is something I’ve never been good at. Life has a way of making fools out of those who would have the arrogance to do such a thing.
I don’t even plan to make any New Year’s resolutions. I haven’t done that for as long as I can remember. Making promises to myself for one day out of the year always struck me as a useless exercise. I’d much rather resolve every day to do better than I did the day before. You might say that makes me sound like a supremely self-centered person, and you’d be right. I am self-centered. The emphasis here is on ‘centered.’ Not in an egotistical sense, although I recognize that there’s a large element of egoism inherent in this philosophy, but, just the acceptance that it’s only my own actions and thoughts that I have any control over.
So, for me, 2013 will just be 2012 continued; and, hopefully bettered. That’s a resolution I plan to make each day. I will continue to try and write 1,000 words a day – actually, since I retired from government service in September I’ve managed to do three times that, so maybe in 2013 I’ll up my game and shoot for 3,000. I started working on improving my Spanish language skills; for no specific reason, it just seemed like an interesting thing to do. I began to get to know my new granddaughter, Samantha. Being in Zimbabwe for most of the first year of her life, I was a stranger to her at her first birthday party. I hope that she and I will become friends in 2013. She’s such a smart kid; reminding me a lot of myself as a child. And, I recognize that she, and all the other children, are the world’s future, so I have a responsibility to help her achieve her dreams – or at least get her on the road to doing that.
Maybe, in 2013, I’ll try and stretch my writing wings; maybe take a stab at adding to the genres I dabble in. I have a long list of to-do writing projects, so the year will be busy.
I’m rambling, I know, but, that’s the way I feel at this moment. I just ramble until I stumble across something that interests me. Always have and I always will. So, I bid a fond farewell to 2012 and a hearty welcome to 2013. I don’t know what lies ahead, but I think the journey will be fascinating. I hope all of you will come along with me.