How have you spent the first day of the new year? Having prepared the stollen that I somehow missed at Christmas, I have spent the rest of the first day of 2022 ensconced in my study. The files – ordered months ago – have finally arrived. Now labelled, they have taken a wealth of research material, notebooks, specialist articles – all the bits and pieces garnered for the current writing project.
Sorting and filing are apt metaphores for the process of preparing for the new writing year. Even if Book 3 of the series is well underway, there’s a sense of renewed vigour, a fresh beginning.
I love the weeks of festive preparation in the lead up to Christmas with its delightfully chaotic, diamond-bright cheerfulness as absorbing now as it was to me as a child. Yet there’s something about the turn of the year that calls for a reflective mien. Perhaps it is the lull after the Christmas rush, or the quiet, dark days in the depths of winter. Or is it the hibernation of the self before spring awakens the senses and drives us from our insularity?
Now listening to my writing playlists while making notes, I’m shaking off December’s dust and readying myself for the year ahead. On my list of things I wish to achieve (aside from all those relating to the garden, house and family) is a pile of books I want to read (research-related and novels), a research trip for the current project and preparation for the next. I have a conference to go to as well as several literary festivals. Covid notwithstanding, I’d like to meet up with author friends because there is only so much a Zoom get-together can deliver. But much of that is dependent upon the unpredictable outcomes of the present pandemic as well as life’s twists and turns such as had me bed-ridden for fifteen weeks last year with a broken leg. Is it no wonder then, that we look to those things we can control – books and shelves, our little spaces – that make up the safe part of our lives? There is comfort there among the regularity of numbered pages, the neatly labelled files, the array of pens and coloured tags and the pristine notebooks waiting for the first impression of a fresh idea.
So forgive me if I linger here a while longer, temporarily secreted from the volcanic anxiety of a stressed world as I navigate the paths of a known past. Standing at the gate of the year, I’m taking a moment to rest and relfect before taking the first step into 2022 with all the vicissitudes and possibilities it offers. Whatever road you find yourself on, may you find it a bright and smooth way. Happy New Year!