Monday, 31 December 2012


A Happy New Year to you! Here’s to the hopeful days of early January, at least for those of you old enough to be over the angst of adolescent despair and weeping at Auld Lang Syne.

No matter how often I’ve seen one year moving through to the next, I can't help loving the few deliciously lazy days that run from Boxing Day to that itchy evening in January when we get ready to go back to the Real World. 

For now, the tree is still twinkling, there's enough food – though possibly in odd varieties - and any visitors can jolly well ignore the state of the house.

From a writing point of view, these quiet days are a gift, offering a space for clearer thinking, for hopeful decisions, for the construction of sturdy To Do lists and – maybe -  the gathering up and cosseting of projects abandoned during 2012 in case they can be coaxed into good humour once more.

I’ve tidied my desk and put the in-tray in order. I've glanced at the remaining paperwork heaps and book piles and planned how to sort them and stow them. I've pondered about re-arranging my working space, again, again. 

So now, for a very short while, there’s an illusion of positive order- but how that feeling  feeds the sou! And nearby I spy that other solace: the empty diary, ready to be filled but still mostly under my control.

I opt for the forward gaze of Janus, not that retrospective face. Far too many things not done last year, far too many distractions that distracted during 2012. The New Year will be better, I promise myself, and just for a few days I can almost believe that.

So, here are my Notes to Self, my resolutions, for me.

That lightweight Christmas laptop? Now’s the time to test it out in the library or in local cafes, where the nagging everyday stuff has no choice but to hush down and the brain has space enough to work.

Set the timer. Open the folder, or the notebook. Keep on doing the small bits of writing that add up to the bigger thing.

Do nice things. Fill the well. Make time to actually meet that “artist date”, not just mourn about its absence. (And do plan such activities and outings into the diary.)

Oh, and don’t be a hermit. Plan time for meeting people, positive people, those whose company you enjoy. Beware of those other Meetings with a capital M that mean come away with even more Things to Do – especially when they need not be Your Things to Do.

Go out for walks or more. Move. Don’t let Rigor Scribis set in over the WIP. How will you come over as bright and dynamic at any agent meeting/ networking event /publisher’s party/award ceremony if writing toil has petrified the body? Think of those inspiring writers who frequently go walking, or to the gym or to swim.

Don’t neglect the smaller ideas. Don’t let that troublesome Big Idea blind you in its headlights. Looking back – which I won’t, I won’t -  maybe I could have made time for smaller, more easily workable projects instead of being mesmerised? Let the good small ideas in, make them welcome. Build them a home.

On the other hand - and I'm not sure who said it: The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. 

Let the writing, not the tweeting and networking, be the main task of the day.  Give the inspiration room to fly.

 Had enough of my resolutions? Just let me mention one last one, please.

Resolve to BE JOYFUL. The writing life can be grim and horrid and soul-sapping and lonesome and tricksy and financially unprofitable BUT there are far, far worse things to be doing than writing. Make the most of it. Yes, be sad and angry when there’s a need to, but don’t waste energy endlessly grouching. 

That’s my Final Note to Self. Try and make 2013 as Happy a Year as it can be. (And keep calling back to read the posts on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure and Awfully Big Reviews, of course.)

Now, how about your 2013 resolutions?

Penny Dolan 

A Boy Called M.O.U.S.E (Bloomsbury) Shortlisted for the West Sussex Children's Book Award and the Stockton Children's Book of the Year.


adele said...

This is wonderful Penny and a lesson to us all. I will retweet you at once!! I wish you luck with all those terrific resolutions with which I totally agree. Boiled down to a soundbite, my resolution is simple EAT LESS; WRITE MORE! Happy New Year!

Penny Dolan said...

Ah! Now I can see the problem, Adele. I have been getting it the wrong way round.

Miriam Halahmy said...

This is a lovely list Penny - I should pin it to my wall! Happy New Year to you too!

Jenny Alexander said...

Lovely post, Penny :) I'm still refelecting on 2012 until midnight, then I'll firm up my resolutions tomorrow. My friends and I will get together to share our challenges for 2013 and look back to see how well we did with 2012's. Setting intentions is such a poerful thing. Best of luck with yours - especially being joyful x

Liz Kessler said...

Penny, what a lovely post - and great resolutions. I can relate to almost all of them, and when I sit down tomorrow night with a bottle of something lovely, a fire to burn a list of this year's mistakes and regrets, and a pile of felt tips to draw and write a lovely colourful list of next year's hopes, I think there will be a lot of similar ones to yours. Thanks for posting! xx

Lynda Waterhouse said...

I intend to keep smiling and keep on writing those stories that I feel passionate about. And to post my reviews early.
Liz,I love your idea of burning a list of last year's mistakes and regrets.
Penny - a big thank you to you for all your support and a big thank you to all the inspirational posts on this blog this year!

Penny Dolan said...

Thanks for all the comments and your resoltion plans.

I do like the idea of burning that list, Liz. May try it, though not on this bright day. Might need BIG paper. Or incredibly small writing.

Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...
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Dianne Hofmeyr said...

A great start to the year. Thank you Penny for reminding us. A Happy 2013 to you.

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