First, “Tokyo Sexwale” is a wonderful name. It’s also a real name, belonging to someone on FIFA’s Task Force Against Racism and Discrimination, although I like to think they use the acronym T-FARD. The point is that great names are weird, and weird names are great.
Second, I think I need to do more genuine blogging. Not blogging in the sense that I assume other people are reading it (which has always been the goofy side of blogging to me), but blogging in the sense that I’m putting down my thoughts, more like a journal that I happen to be keeping online. I’ve been doing that here, but 90% of the posts I’ve written are story notes, and marked as private. (Edited to note that after I posted this, I got a message saying that I’d just published my 173rd post. Only 22 are public. So.) Not that they have to be public. But writing about things other than specific story ideas may be helpful.
Third, I need to start reading more. I used to read like an animal, if animals read a ton, which they don’t, but my point is that I used to read an awful lot, and on many different subjects. I need to get back to that, not only because reading is a genuinely great thing (sometimes), but because it has to make me a better writer to read as much as I can. A better person, too. Maybe.
“As much as I can” is misleading. I can’t read everything. No one can. So decisions have to be made. On the non-fiction side, it probably depends on which novel I decide not to abandon. On the fiction side, I have a short list I’ve started to put together. If I start the MFA program next year this list will get revised, maybe unrecognizably so. But here’s my current short list for fiction.
Swamplandia (Karen Russell)
CivilWarLand in Bad Decline (George Saunders)
The Counterlife (Roth, actually just need to finish it)
Bleeding Edge (a treat from Pynchon, I’ll wait until later in the year to read it)
The Angel Esmerelda (DeLillo)
White Noise (DeLillo)
The Sunset Limited (McCarthy)
Super Sad True Lover Story (Gary Shteyngart)
Birds of America (Lorrie Moore)
On Beauty (Zadie Smith)