Maybe reflecting on what we learned in the past year and how we hope to use that knowledge in the coming year is a more useful activity than listing self-improvement goals that we are destined to abandon by Easter. After all, if we were going to be tee-total, vegan gym bunnies we’d have shown some inclination for that in the past wouldn’t we?
So what have I learned?
- Our trip to California in August was amazing (I’m sorry, I won’t bore on again about it for long) and it reminded me how much I love to travel. I must make more effort to explore and although we won’t be making another trip like that for a while, there’s a great deal of Britain, Scotland even that I haven’t seen and I’m sure there are places here just as impressive as Yosemite.
- I’m not a patient or a still person but I experienced perfect peace and contentment sitting on a beach watching a pair of humpback whales feeding on pilchards. It was impossible to rush, to see the wonder of them you just had to wait and watch. There’s a small granite pebble from that beach at Big Sur on my desk to remind me of the need to just be still from time to time.
- I finished a novel. It was far from perfect – bits were pretty good and there were some Plot Problems – but it was finished. I’ve wanted to do that since I was a teenager. And now, following advice from People Who Know, I’ve dismantled it, reworked the plot and am rewriting. It will be better and it will be good enough to be published I hope. It won’t be perfect, no writer save the most deluded, would ever claim a manuscript was perfect, but it will be good enough and the next one will be better.
- Linked to the latter, I admitted in public to being a writer at Pitch Perfect and being one of the winners there was good for my confidence. It made me feel that maybe writing wasn’t something I should keep hidden. Even maybe that that manuscript wasn’t so bad after all. Some writers I know might think I’m delusional but they were all unpublished once.
- I also realised that just because you’ve cheered someone on, that doesn’t mean you should expect it to be a two-way street. Oddly, when I won Pitch Perfect it was the people who didn’t congratulate me who were the most noticeable, at least to me. I saw a quote a while back that stuck with me: “pay close attention to the people who don’t clap when you win”. It’s as if those people feel that celebrating your success somehow diminishes their own. Know your circle, know who your cheerleaders are, know who’s genuine – I knew that already, but I’ve been reminded and that’s useful.
- Finally, I learned that if I want to do everything I want, I need to be more organised so I’m spending the next few days tidying and planning in order that I can get the dull stuff out of the way faster to give me more time for the good things. I suppose that’s my equivalent of the tee-total vegan gym bunny resolution… Just because I’ve learned that lesson it doesn’t mean I can do it.
I hope you’re feeling similarly positive – let’s make 2016 fabulous.