I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. I don’t believe in the New Year starting in January, either; for me it has always started with a new academic year, in the autumn, and all of that post-Christmas guilt stuff is just an excuse for self-flagellation and meanness. What I do for New Year’s, instead, is to list what I’ve done over the past year. That seems more likely to produce, on the whole, happiness. And even bad memories are worth more than half-assed, panic-induced vows to improve my life.
So, in 2016, I:
started writing and reviewing for Litro Magazine
navigated the French train system alone
stayed in a chateau owned by a friend of the Chaos, who runs a restaurant there
hosted my first author Q&A on the blog
decided to reclaim the word “fat”
wrote a series of posts on digital literature (finale coming soon!)
started singing again
attended an underground play
partied like it’s 1944
started my first novel (I’m now at 74K words)
mourned the results of the EU referendum
welcomed my parents to our London flat for the first time!
walked fifteen miles through London at night in support of breast cancer research
went to Glyndebourne
left my job
threw a summer drinks party
visited St. Ives (and decided to write my second novel about Barbara Hepworth)
bitched mightily about having to walk uphill in Cornwall
overcame massive social anxiety to go to my very first music festival
participated in a mass read-through of Henry VI, Part 1
sent my brother a postcard at college every week of his first semester
welcomed a goddaughter, Beatrice Illyria
sang at the Royal Albert Hall
met Carlos Acosta (and decided to write my third novel about ballet dancers)
waited tables during the pre-Christmas period (this is hard)
mourned the results of the US election
got wazzocked with the lay clerks of Westminster Cathedral on Christmas morning
read 141 books
It hasn’t been a good year, though. On a personal level, it has mostly been really pretty good, but posting about how good my year was is solipsistically gross if I fail to include the fact that it has been a bad year in many other ways: for the LGBTQ+ folks in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub and their friends and family; for pretty much everyone in Syria; for the women of Ohio, where the state legislature has just pushed through a six-week abortion ban; for a substantial portion of Trump voters who didn’t realise that Trump’s promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act would make their lives literally unlivable; for the people of Valence and Berlin and Nice and Baghdad and Brussels and Istanbul and Quetta. For Jo Cox’s husband and children. For the families of the 258 black people murdered by police in America this year: Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Korryn Gaines, Laronda Sweatt, Deresha Armstrong.
If you think for one minute that this is in some way not your problem, you’re wrong.
2017: if you want it to be a better year, there’s only one way to go about it—you can’t stop celebrities from dying or TV networks from moving your favourite show. You can give your time, and you can give your money. Here are some ideas:
Safety Pin Box takes the nice-but-not-exactly-super-effective idea of safety pin allyship and makes it a real thing: your subscription gets you two or three “ally tasks” a month, all of which are directly effective in the fight against white supremacy.
Liberty is England’s premier human rights organisation and it is RIDICULOUSLY cheap to become a member. You can give as much as you want/can afford, but some subscriptions are as little as £1 a month; the highest individual subscription fee is only £15.
Do what works for you. Do something that you’re just a little bit uncomfortable with: a couple of hours a week volunteering, or donating £5 more per month than your budget can absorb without having to change. Or call people out at your school/workplace/kitchen table: it can be just as uncomfortable, and just as important.
Anyway, whatever you do, have a very happy New Year. Onwards!