In which I look forward to yet another new year

So it’s January again. It seems, dear reader, to have come round a bit quick, but the calendar never lies. Actually that’s rubbish. My calendar says it’s 2010, so can’t really be trusted for anything very much at all anymore. But, depsite my calendar’s confident assertion that it is eternally December 2010, it is, quite clearly, January all over again, and time to do the whole resolution thing once more with feeling.

To get me in the mood for this I had a little lookie back here to see what I’d resolved last year. I won’t lie. It was a tad disheartening, because basically I’m going to be resolving all the same stuff again. I still need to lose weight, about half a stone less than I needed to lose at the start of last year, but the bigger picture is still rather unhealthily hefty. I still need to focus more on writing, and I still need to get over my utter phobia of being in control of a moving automobile.

Now that realisation might give the impression that 2012 was not a successful year. That would not be true at all. 2012 was great. I went to the Paralympics. I gained a very gorgeous niece.  I went to Venice (and Venice is, in my humble opinion, amongst the very best of the good places on the planet). I won a short story competition which earned me a year’s guardianship of a little cup. I saw a panda in Edinburgh Zoo on my 10th wedding anniversary. I joined a tiny little writer’s critique group all of whom say fabulously useful things, and frequently offer me cake. I spent time doing things with people I like.

It wasn’t a year into which no rain fell. My incredible, irrepressible grandmother died at the age of 97 in June. I was poorly for a slightly disappointing proportion of it (rather inconveniently I seem to have developed IBS). And, as we’ve already noted, I didn’t really achieve my stated goals for the year at all.

So maybe that should tell me that resolutions really are a waste of time. Maybe I should stop aiming for things I’m probably not going to achieve, and concentrate on enjoying whatever comes my way. Well, partly. The “enjoying whatever comes my way” sounds good, but I still think the resolutions are worthwhile too. Because, somehow, I absolutely believe that this year will be different. This year I will do better. I think it’s good to believe that – it makes us keep trying. I don’t really do bumper-sticker wisdom. The cute sayings and affirmations that people post on their facebook statuses leave me befuddled, but here’s one I do believe. I believe that it is, pretty much always, better to try and fail, than not to try.

So in a spirit of trying, and embracing the risk of failing, here are my resolutions for 2013:

1. Lose weight – 3 stone 10lb to be precise. And keep it off.

2. Finish writing a second novel, start a third, and submit a competition short story at least once per month.

3. Get over the driving phobia.

4. Get back to blogging every(ish) week. On that note – the all new blog day for 2013 is Wednesday. Mark it on your (possibly decades out of date) calendars – Wednesday. Wednesday. Wednesday.

You never know – this might be the year I stick to all my resolutions. And if not, I’m sure the failing will bring it’s own joys along with it. See y’all back here for a review in 2014?

In which I, for reasons which will be made clear, get behind Grenada for Olympic glory

So it is nearly time to stop grumbling about the expense, and the traffic disruption, and the inability of multinational companies to recruit security guards, and get on with some actual sport. I am genuinely excited about the Olympics. The Olympics is, I think, my favourite delivery format for sport, and this is from a woman who has a fully considered opinion on Andy Murray’s best chance of winning a grand slam (would have thought US, but maybe Wimbledon after all), and on the relative merits of a range of England strikers (Wayne Rooney – increasingly overrated).

The Olympics has a sense of the village fete sports day that you don’t get with those other big sporting events. You’ve got your Usain Bolt, but you’ve also got your modern pentathletes, archers, mountain bikers, and table tennisificators. And it’s that mix of different events that makes the Olympics so utterly brilliant.

This year I shall be mainly cheering for Team Grenada. Of course. Because of how I am Grenadan. Which, actually, I’m not. No. The reason for cheering for Team Grenada is entirely financial. My nephew’s school are running a fund-raising Olympic raffle, in which “winning” ticket holders are allocated an Olympic nation. Prizes are given to the ticket holders whos countries achieve the most Gold, Silver, or Bronze medals. I got Grenada. Hurrah! Go Grenada! Go Grenada!

In order to best support my newly adopted nation, I’ve had a little look at their previous Olympic performances. It turns out that Grenada didn’t actually win any medals in Beijing, or in Athens, or in Sydney, or, indeed, at any of the Olymipcs they’ve competed at since their first Games in 1984. I’m not daunted by this fact though. Sure. I may have to be a little bit realistic. Probably we’re going to be competing for the prize for Most Bronze medals rather than Most Golds but I still think that’s totally doable.

The team with the most bronze medals in Beijing was the USA, who took home 36 bronze medals. Admittedly, the Grenadan team this year consists of just ten athletes, but I’m not letting that dissaude me from the potential glory ahead. And that, right there, is the brilliance of sport. Being a armchair sport addict is, in the end, all about hope. It’s about maintaining the belief that this year will be different in the face of all evidence to the contrary. It’s about knowing that it’s not over until the fat lady blows the whistle or the referee sings (or something like that), and then, even when it is over, regrouping and coming back and doing it all again. Hope is what makes watching sport so seductive, and is why I remain entirely confident of scooping raffle glory. I’ll be there. Bum on sofa. Olympic themed nibbles on lap. TV and laptop fired up to facilitate multi-event viewing, and Grenada will bring home those medals for me. Probably. Go Team Grenada!

So there you go – week one of my promise to blog every Monday, and I’m totally doing it. Hurrah! As ever, please do commenting and following and all that stuff. Are you excited about the Olympics? Do you fall over with boredom when Match of the Day comes on the telly? Are you a unusually big fan of Grenada?  I warmly encourage you to tell us about any, or all, of the above (or about anything else that is flitting through your mind) down there in the comments.

In which I look forward to the shiny new year

So this is 2012. It seems perfectly resonable so far, although it was trailed as a bumper exciting year, what with Olympics and Diamond Jubilees and The End of The World. Compared with the spoilers the opening week could be seen as just a tiny bit dull.

To brighten up the boredom, it is traditional, at this point in the calendar, to take stock of one’s life and make resolutions for its improvement. Now, lots of people don’t hold with resolutions. They point out that you always end up breaking them by about mid-January and then you get downhearted and end up doing worse that you were before you made the resolution. These people think they are being mature and sensible, when actually, they are fools. They are allowing their experience to override their hope. Hope should always be allowed to win in these little internal debates. Hopeful people may be disappointed more often, but I suspect they are still happier overall, and they’re definitely more fun to be around.

So, supressing my inner Eeyore, I have made three resolutions for 2012.

1.  Get fit. Get thin.

I’ll not bore you with this one. If you’ve read the blog before you’ll have heard all about it here. If you’ve not read that already then just click back there, where it said here and away you go.

Being fit is good. Not having a heart attack when you’re 40 is good. Not having to buy a whole new wardrobe every year because you’ve gone up another dress size is good. Being able to walk up small hills without turning blue and making death noises is good. For all these reasons and more I’m very focussed on losing weight this year.

My aim is to get down to somewhere below 10.5 stone by summer, and (and this bit’s important) still be the same weight by the end of the year. I’ve managed the losing weight bit before. The big challenge this year is staying at a healthy weight once I’m there, but it needs to be done, and so it shall.

2. Get some writing (apart from this lovely blog) out there into the world

There are two parts to being a writer pursuing publication. There’s the writing, and then there’s the pursuing publication. Sadly, the two activities don’t really require the same skills. One is all about sitting in a lonely garret and trying to type more words into Word than onto Twitter. The other is about venturing out into Big World and thrusting your precious manuscript into the hands of agents, publishers, publisher’s cleaning ladies, agent’s manicurists, and any other poor sod who gets in your way. That part of the deal is all about covering letters, having a killer synopsis, networking and the truly horrendous sounding Elevator Pitch.

This year I’m going to be getting my increasingly svelte derriere into gear on both fronts. The novel-in-progress which has already been in progress for far too long will get it’s final spit and polish and will be winging it’s way out to be rejected by Easter. My second novel will also be completed and out there landing on slush piles by the end of the year. And finally, I’ll have written a first draft of number three before it’s time to get all Auld Lang Syney at each other again. Oh yes I will.

3. I’m going to learn to drive.

“Hang on!” Some of you are probably shouting (those of you who know me in the Real World TM and are also odd enough to shout at your computers without shame), “You can already drive.”

And the weird shouting people are correct. I passed my driving test in 2008, at a very respectable second attempt. Admittedly the first attempt wasn’t that respectable and did involve a certain amount of trying to pull away in 3rd gear, but no-one normal passes their driving test first time, so that’s all good.

Unfortunately, since then very little actual driving has occured, to the point where I now don’t think I’ve driven for over a year. This is largely to do with the driving terror. I properly detest driving to the point of almost being phobic about it. I get genuinely scared at the idea. If I think I might have to drive the next day I won’t sleep the night before. Add that fear to a lifestyle where I live within walking distance of a city centre, do most of my paid work in central Birmingham where it’s much easier to get the train, even if you like driving, and you end up with a girl who has never got over the initial driving nerves.  

This is silly. I know that I’m a perfectly reasonable driver. A little inexperienced, but still less scary that lots of other people who hop in their motorised vehicles without hesitation. So this year, I am going to get over the driving fear, even if that does involve going back to the driving lesson stage with all the irritation and expense that entails.

This, I suspect, is the resolution I’m most likely to break. The first two are things I desperately want to achieve. This is one I’d quite like to achieve, but mainly is something I think I ought to do. And I can be a pig-headed little madam – being told I ought to do something (even by myself) rarely works as a motivator. Nonethless, I will try.

So those are my resolutions. They probably should include something about increasing my amount of paid work, but I’m responding to the low levels of freelance work out there on the horizon by making a happy face and hoping something turns up. (Anyone looking for a adult trainer in the Midlands area and/or online, please do get in touch though… I can train on advice skills, managing volunteers, welfare benefits, employment law, social media, training skills…)

Any thoughts on my aims for the year? Any resolutions of your own you’d like to share? For example, you might want to resolve to stay up to date with lovely Alison’s lovely blog by following or subscribing. I think that would be a very good resolution indeed.