I’ve always been a little dismissive of New Year’s Resolutions, because if I want to make a change in my life, that can happen any time I choose. That remains true, but there are things I want to do differently going into 2014. Post-Christmas binging is a natural place to draw a line and make a start, and I quite like the idea of formalising the changes I want to make. So here’s what’s going to happen this year:
Because I don’t really do any, other than the odd Lakes walk and the exhaustive mania of teaching. I’ve already started walking the 2 miles to work – which I enjoy for the headspace as much as the activity – but I miss my bike and I miss my climbing. So I’m going to start cycling the long way to work and back. That’s only about 6 miles a day, so it’s not a great deal really, but it’s more than I’m doing at the moment. I’m also really keen to get back to my climbing. When I lived in London, I climbed four or five times a week. Now it’s four or five times a year. I’m going to start going for a few hours at least once a week. That, supplemented by some pull-ups at home and the cycling, should be steps in the right direction. I might even join Mon for the odd yoga, too.
The best I can hope for here is more of the same, I think. I crave more time to write, but the day jobs don’t allow it. In a good week, I get two days and two nights on my stories every week. Within that, I have specific aims for 2014. First and most important, I want Grisleymires finished in a year. This is a big ask, but it’s well planned, I’m excited by the story, and I can do it if I work hard. Research trip to the Fens in January!
Second, I want to have my flash fiction collection Marrow typeset and printed by the end of February. I’m reading at Spoken Word at the Brewery on Saturday 22nd, and I want it in my hands by then. This isn’t as big a deal as it seems; the stories are written and redrafted ten times over, and having typeset it once already as practice, I know glimmers of InDesign. With some guidance from knowledgeable friends and a few late nights, I think I can send the manuscript off to Inky Little Fingers in a few weeks. I’ve already saved most of the £225 it’ll cost to print 100 copies, so that’s not going to hurt my wallet too much.
Third, I want to keep on performing. 2013 was a turning point for me in reading my work aloud, and I want to push that as far as I can. Reading live brings an entirely new aspect to the way I write, and this is something I want to keep developing – pushing towards more theatrical performance where my confidence allows it.
Fourth, I want to submit my work to more competitions. I’ve never entered any of the big short story competitions before now, and I’m going to try and start this year. And I want to write new pieces, too, if the ideas keep coming to me. I’m not going to rehash old stories. I’ve pretty much drawn a line under my older work, but for two particular pieces: the excellent people at Comma Press have been considering my short story Every State In America for their delayed Reveal anthology for a couple of years. They’ll have first refusal on it for as long as it takes; being published by Comma would be an incredible honour. The other piece is called Art Is Long, Life Is Short, which is perhaps three years old and freshly redrafted for the BBC Radio 4 Opening Lines strand. That’s ready to go when the submission window opens in January.
Fifth, I want to finish Year Of The Whale, my long-running novella about a whale beached in Morecambe Bay. It’s been work in progress for three or four years, and it’s overdue. But writing resolutions one through four come first.
That’s lots of resolutions wrapped up in two strands, really. Writing and exercise. I’m only going to buy the time for everything else if I start saying no to low-paid film jobs, so I’m not doing any freebies/cheapies this year unless they have a clear benefit further down the line. I’m also going to try and rein in my irrational compulsion to reply to emails RIGHT THIS SECOND. I just don’t have the time. Most of the email I receive can probably wait until I’m ready. The point of all of this is to spend more quality time with Mon and Dora. Unless deadlines get in the way for either of us, we’re generally good at keeping weekends as family time, and I want that set in stone. There are a host of other things I can do towards this – less time online, for a start – and turning off the computer on free evenings. I want to read more, too.
I guess I’ve picked out goals, rather than resolutions, but it’s all the same in the end. I haven’t kept a blog to monitor resolutions before; I’m curious to see to whether writing about my success or lack thereof will impact on my success or lack thereof. Gazing into the void and so on.
2013 was a great year in many ways. Here’s to 2014, people. Be safe, be happy. Here’s a 1921 picture of a cat and a goblin in a tree: