Of course it isn’t compulsory on this arbitrary date to review the year that is almost gone and look ahead to the next one, but somehow it seems appropriate. I’ve got two whole weeks when I don’t have to go to work and I can theoretically spend much of the time in quiet contemplation of ways to make my life better.
In practice, of course, I spent much of the time until yesterday contemplating the back-stage area of a theatre, and I can divulge that the particular theatre where I’ve been has a cavernous back-stage area painted all in black, apart from the places where the paint is peeling, and that if there is anywhere more likely to drive people into a bleak depression for the festive season, I don’t want to imagine it. For many people the festive season itself is enough to push them over the edge. Personally I tend to find myself physically exhausted by Christmas, which is why I try to take two weeks off work.
2013 was an exceptionally busy year for me, with more than usual going on in all aspects of my life – new work projects, five theatrical productions, the youth centre fire – but I didn’t realise quite how hard I had been pushing myself to write more and more until I checked back to see how much I had published, and realised that because I brought out two novels at the same time earlier in the year, and went on to write three more during the year, two of which I also published, I had more or less never stopped. How did I manage to produce a long short story for an anthology and the first draft of a novella for another as well? Why did I do it? Who knows? By the start of NaNoWriMo in November I was as close to writing burn-out as I ever want to be.
However, nobody can say I learn quickly from my mistakes, and during December when I was supposed to be getting ready for Christmas, I put together a collected edition of some of my mystery novels to publish in paperback, and at the same time had an irresistible urge to revive a series of children’s stories I first wrote some time ago. In a mad rush I published the first of these a week or so ago.
This leads inevitably to my first New Year resolution, which is to write less! I’ve already backed this up with a writing plan for 2014 which lets me write ‘only’ two full length novels.
My second resolution, and one which I am almost as likely to keep as the first, is to swim more, although thinking about how much swimming I’ve managed to fit in this year I should modify that and say ‘to swim’.
I would have made a third resolution for 2014, which would be to work less, but this isn’t so much a resolution as a firm plan to cut down my time at work from April. I know that once I finally decide on this, factors outside my control will force me to go ahead, so I won’t have to depend on my own will-power to get me to do it! Of course I am now planning to fill the extra time with far more activities than can possibly fit into it, so don’t be surprised if I appear here at the same time next year bemoaning my state of exhaustion and listing the ways I will cut down on my work-load for 2015.