Resolution update: November 2016


1. Don’t die.

I still have fluid trapped behind my eardrum after more than a month, making it impossible to hear out of my left ear, and now I think it might kill me. I am losing my mind.  

2. Lose 20 pounds.

I gained three more pounds in November, mostly because extenuating circumstances have kept me from the gym. Twelve pounds down and eight to go. Looking unlikely... 

3. Do at least 100 push-ups and 100 sit-ups five days a week.


4. Practice yoga at least three days a week.

My shoulder is fully healed. I am ready to begin. I plan to jumpstart my yoga practice at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in a week. 


5. Complete my fifth novel before the end of February.


6. Complete my sixth novel.

I have two novels that are more than halfway finished and one that is finished but requires a complete re-write. However, I'm not sure if any of these will be my next novel.

Not surprising, my editor has some say in this.

I turned in final revisions on my next book today, so the decision process begins next week. The book will not be finished by the end of the year. 

7. Write a proposal for a middle grade novel.

Done! The editor and her team love the book. Some minor revisions are needed, and then we hope to have an offer.

I begin those revisions next week. 

8. Write at least three new picture books. 

One of my now former students and I are writing a picture book. Now that we are back in school, work has commenced again. Our first draft should be completed soon. 

In November, I wrote a picture book about the Presidential election that I sent to my agent and a children's book editor. Both had very good things to say about the book but feel that it is too closely aligned with a specific moment in history to be marketable.

I was disappointed. I think it's a great book. I'm thinking of finding an illustrator and creating a version of the book online.   

One more picture book to go. I've already started writing it.  

9. Complete a book proposal for a book on storytelling.

Done! Five chapters are finished now, plus an outline and comparisons have been re-sent to my agent. She LOVES it. Hopefully a publisher loves it just as much.  

10. Write a new screenplay

No progress yet. I could bang out an idea in a week if I really apply myself. 

11. Write a musical for a summer camp

Done! I had the pleasure of watching the musical performed at the summer camp, and it was fantastic.

12. Publish at least one Op-Ed in The New York Times.

I've submitted two Op-Ed pieces to the New York Times and been rejected both times.

I am still working on a new piece. I hope to submit this month.

13. Publish an article in an educational journal.

No progress yet. 

14. Submit one or more short stories to at least three publishing outlets.

No progress yet.

15. Select three behaviors that I am opposed to and adopt them for one week, then write about my experiences on the blog.

I spent a week backing my car into parking spots (which initially struck me as insane) and wrote about it in August. It actually received a lot of attention from readers.

In September I engaged in a month of daily affirmations. I am nearly finished writing about my experience.   

In November, I engaged in the "sport" of bottle flipping, which is all the rage amongst many young people. I will also be writing about my experience this month.  

16. Increase my author newsletter subscriber base to 1,000.

Done! My subscriber list now stands at 1,220 readers. My list has grown by 34% in 2016. 

If you'd like to join the masses and receive my monthly newsletter, which contains a writing and storytelling tip, an Internet recommendation, book recommendations, free giveaways, and more, subscribe here:

17. Collaborate with a former colleague on an educational book.

This project has been cancelled. After meeting with my collaborator, we determined that I am not best suited for this project.  

Oddly enough, that collaborator is now my principal. 


18. Produce a total of 12 Speak Up storytelling events.

Done! We produced a show at Real Art Ways in November, bringing our total number of shows to 17 in 2016. Two more shows scheduled in December.

19. Deliver a TED Talk.

Done twice over! 

I spoke at TEDxNatick in January. The title of the talk was "Live Your Life Like Your 100 Year-Old Self." 
Here's the recording: 

I also spoke at the TEDx conference at The Country School in Madison, CT in April. The title of the talk was "Speak Less. Expect More."  
Here is the recording:

20. Attend at least 15 Moth events with the intention of telling a story.

Done! In October, I attended a Moth StorySLAM at Oberon in Cambridge. This brings my total number of Moth events in 2016 to 24.

21. Win at least three Moth StorySLAMs.

Done! I attended one StorySLAM in November and won (four slams in a row now), bringing my total number of wins to four for 2016 and 27 overall.

22. Win a Moth GrandSLAM.

Done! I won the Moth GrandSLAM in Somerville in March. 

23. Launch at least one new podcast.

I have a name. I have begun recording episodes. I still need a logo and I'll be ready to publish.

24. Launch a storytelling project that I will otherwise remain vague about here but will become a primary focus of 2016. 

Work on this project is specifically tied to the sale of my storytelling book. 


25. Host at least one Shakespeare Circle.

No progress.

26. Learn to cook three good meals for my wife.

I cooked two new meals for Elysha in August thanks to Blue Apron and a friend who was kind enough to pass on meals to me.

I made barbecue pork burgers with onion straws and corn on the cob. I also made curried catfish with coconut rice, green beans, and a raisin chutney. 

I could easily make both again. 

One meal to go. I have an idea.  

27. Plan a 25 year reunion of the Heavy Metal Playhouse.

I'm still seeking a location for the reunion near the Heavy Metal Playhouse (since the apartment complex does not have a room to rent) and will then decide upon a date.


28. Replace the 12 ancient, energy-inefficient windows in our home with new windows that will keep the cold out and actually open in the warmer months.

No progress. 

29. Optimize our television for a streaming service. 

No progress. I was hoping Elysha would take care of this. 

30. Set a new personal best in golf.

I played one round of golf in November and shot a 51.

As stated previously, I have begun a serious and committed change of my swing under the guidance of a friend who also happens to be an outstanding teacher. As a result, I am hitting the ball farther, higher, and less consistently.

I also have a new grip that I will practice all winter long. 

31. Play poker at least six times in 2016.

I played one game back in April. This saddens me. 

32. Do not speak negatively about another person's physical appearance except when done in jest with my closest friends. 

Done. A wife asked me to comment on her husband's recent weight gain,  but I refused, stating my belief about avoiding commenting on the physical appearance of others.   

Here's a potentially new idea for next year: 

I will not comment on physical appearance - good or bad - in any way unless I am speaking to my wife and children. I already adhere to this policy in the classroom as a teacher, so why not expand it throughout my life? 

My goal is to reduce the amount of attention paid to physical appearance in this society, shifting attention to things that truly matter: words and actions. I understand that one man's crusade may not change the world, but perhaps it will change my world and influence those around me. 

Change often starts small. Sometimes it begins with a single person. And I believe in this cause.  

I'm not sure about this goal yet, but I'm considering it. Thoughts?

33. Post my progress in terms of these resolutions on this blog on the first day of every month.