On top of all the usual resolutions about being more present, less judgemental, and meditating every day, here are some resolutions for my writing life in 2016.
1. Work through the teetering pile of books beside my bed, books people gave me or told me I absolutely must read in 2015 and I never managed to, plus those I got super-excited about reading, but didn’t. Oh, plus the twenty or so books I got for Christmas and for my birthday…
At the moment I’m reading ‘Sweet Caress’ by William Boyd. Up next, I’m very excited to read ‘Starlings’ by Erinna Mettler and ‘My Brilliant Friend’ by Elena Ferrante.
2. And in the likely event I acquire a whole load of new books this year, I’m committing to buying them from independent bookshops or direct from the publishers rather than from certain (ahem) online suppliers which squeeze the margins of independent publishers to the point of non-existence.
3. Finish Baby X, and work hard to sell A LOT of copies. There are a lot of things I’m looking forward to in 2016 – holding my book in my hand, sharing it with friends and family, and (fingers crossed) with a much wider community of readers. At the same time, I know the final stages of editing may be gruelling, and I’m going to have to be brave about putting myself forward for events and opportunities to publicise the book. I also know that not everyone is gonna love it, which is pretty scary. I’m committing to holding my nerve.
4. Rewrite He, She, It. I’m about half way through a major rewrite of this book, which received encouraging comments from agents a couple of years ago and feels particularly timely now, given the new rise of feminism and the interest in trans issues in the media. Between sessions devoted to editing and publicising Baby X, I’m committing to finishing this book in 2016.
5. Find a home for Seal Skin. I entered this middle-grade novel for the Times / Chicken House competition this year, so wish me luck that it does well. And if Chicken House is not the right home for this book, I’m hoping it will find another publishing house in 2016 to nurture it and bring it into the world.
6. Collaborate with a playwright to produce a piece of original (podcastable?) radio drama. I’m excited at how much there is to learn from this project, which is new on so many levels: I’ve never written drama, never worked with a co-writer and never worked with actors. Could be daunting… good job we’ve got such a fantastic idea!
7. Keep blogging, and keep making connections with interesting people online, but don’t get sucked into to believing this stuff is the actual work. You know what I’m talking about. For more on this topic, check out this infographic from the fabulous Guillaume Morissette.
8. Jealously guard time for creative work, in the face of multiple demands and distractions. I recently took on more responsibility at work, and the pressure to work longer and longer hours is hard to resist. Between that and family responsibilities, not to mention the many distractions of modern life, I reckon it would be easy not to write a word in 2016. Not sure what the solution is, except to be super-organised, super-assertive, and not give myself a hard time when I can’t do everything.
So those are my commitments for 2016. Looking forward to reading yours!