The Reluctant Dilettante

     Another year has come and gone, without my quite knowing how. People have been announcing their New Year’s resolutions left, right, and centre for more than a week now, but somehow I am always taken unawares by the advent of the new year, however much I have prepared and looked forward to the festivities beforehand. This year, I waltzed in the new year in the arms of a very dear friend: high on Strauss and carried away by my own dancing feet, I did not spare a thought for the clock stolidly ticking away the last few minutes of 2012. Waking up late the next morning in the half-light of a dark and rainy day, it seemed to me the air smelled faintly of farewell. Or was that just woodsmoke? In the days that followed, in the shadowy recesses of my mind there appeared dim shapes, ghosts of unfinished projects come back to tease me. What had I done this past year, they asked? Not much, all in all.

     As a rule, I care little for New Year’s resolutions: self-discipline is not my forte, and I succumb far too often to temptation for resolutions to be of any use. I prefer not to start off the new year with a guilty conscience because I’ve gone against one of my grandiloquent statements – it gives me an illusion of freedom and keeps me serene.

     But conscience has a way of creeping up on you nonetheless. I have heard the echoing footsteps of mine drawing nearer for some time now, but chose to ignore them – until Bang! You turn a corner – or the page of a calendar – and there it is, unavoidable, with letters large and bold staring you in the face, spelling DILETTANTE.

     I used to have a fondness for the word dilettante: I liked its baroque, Italianate sonorities, and the way it conjured up fin de siècle dandies à la Lord Henry Wotton. Of late, however, its pejorative connotations have been uppermost in my mind; like the two-faced tragedy-comedy masks of old, it has switched from the dandy to the dabbler, and the change is not to my liking. Lurking in the background is the third – and most unpalatable – of the brothers, whose name comes to me in my mother’s voice, dripping with disdain: “Jack of all trades”. As I think of these three, I squirm uncomfortably. For it seems to me that I am well on my way to becoming one, if not all, of these things, me with my bright talk of becoming a writer and my manuscript lying still unfinished in my desk drawer.

     So, this year I am breaking my rule and making a New Year’s resolution. Just one, because when all is said and done, there is only one thing which is important to me: to finish that dratted book, once and for all. No more dithering, no more spurious excuses. When January rolls around again, I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror with pride and say: “I finished what I set out to do.” I will not be a dilettante.

© Florence Berlioz 2013


About Miss Darcy's Library

I love books - buying books, reading books, discussing books, and generally admiring them from all angles (except the e-book). I also love tea, roses, and my dogs, and seldom pass up an opportunity to slip them into the conversation.
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11 Responses to The Reluctant Dilettante

  1. Sounds like a lot of work and a lot of fun!! All the best and the goodest of lucks!

  2. Alex in Leeds says:

    *waving pompoms like a reformed dandy*

  3. helen says:

    As a confirmed dilettante, I am a little sad to be waving goodbye to one from our dabbly ranks. (Although, I’m not sure that you really REALLY are a dilettante, didn’t you start a new job as a teacher last year?) On the other hand, I wish you all good luck, and I am looking forward to reading your book one day…

    • Dilettantism runs deep in my veins, Helen, and you know what they say: bad blood will out! Something tells me I will never entirely quit the dabbly ranks – merely combat them briefly before succumbing entirely 🙂
      I look forward to signing one of my books for you one day (one can dream, right?!)…

  4. I haven’t yet discovered, in my wanderings round your delightful site, whether you have finished your book. I hope that it is in the same vein as these enjoyable blog articles – I very much like your writing style and you conjure a mood and evoke an (extremely desirable!) lifestyle very effectively.

    • Thank you Victoria, I am very touched by your kind words! I am currently working on the very last chapter of my book. I hope to be able to submit a full manuscript before the summer (fingers crossed and I hope I haven’t just jinxed it!). Perhaps I may have the privilege of counting you among my readers one day?!

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