New year, new intentions. Or old intentions (get more work, do more work, earn more money) dressed up in optimistic spring shades, swishing their skirts. Plus some abandoned intentions from last year, of course. My short-story-a-day promise collided with my post-surgery indolence, and that was that. I managed to scrape to 236:
226: ‘Music in the Bone’ by Tomas Mac Siomoin
227: ‘The Colonel’s Daughter’ by Robert Coover (2013)
228: ‘A Few Problems in the Day Case Unit’ by Georgina Hammick (1986)
229: ‘My Heart’ by Semezdin Mehmedinovic (2011)
230: ‘Crazy in the Stir’ by Chester B. Himes (1934)
231: ‘Before the Breakup’ by Balla (2005)
232: ‘The End of the Party’ by Graham Greene (1929)
233: ‘When the Glasses are Lost’ by Zrko Kujundziski (2011)
234: ‘The Face’ by Dragan Radulovic (2007)
235: ‘Sugar Cane’ by Derek Palacio (2013)
236: ‘Last Summer in Marienbad’ by Kirill Kobrin (2011)
Not quite the 365 I intended, but 236 new stories isn't too bad.
Maybe that was the story of 2013 for me: not quite, but not too bad. We got to travel to Hamburg and Berlin and Rome again, to Monterrey for my nephew's wedding, and to Spain for Tom's birthday. I went to Tulsa, Oklahoma, courtesy of a Carnegie Grant, to research Jean Rhys for a play I want to write. In May I went home to New Zealand for the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival, and we spent Christmas in Tom's hometown of St Louis. I attended the Man Booker Prize in London. We visited friends there, and in Wales, York, and the Cotswolds; we met up with my English cousins in Newcastle, Sheffield, York. With Tom's mother we went back to Whitby and to the Lake District. The Devlin sisters stayed with us (without parents) for the first time. Other firsts: Rievaulx Abbey, Fountains Abbey, Haddon Hall, Bakewell, the top of the Shard. We spent our anniversary in Liverpool, one of our favourite places.
In 2013 we flirted with insolvency; I flirted with cancer; we both got very cosy with the NHS. I escaped the worst colleague ever and a job that pushed me to the edge. We made the happy move to a new job in Sheffield and a flat in an old cutlery factory alongside a noisy little river. In Glasgow I hosted a baby shower for my friend Doris; in Auckland I co-hosted a bridal shower for Martha, now married to my nephew. At the University of Sheffield, Tom took (and survived) a CELTA course in a long, hot July, and I studied Spanish this autumn. We saw more plays than movies. We watched almost all of BREAKING BAD. (The last few episodes have been saved as a new year's treat.)
Two new books published: a YA novel and my first children's book. Two stories commissioned, and a few poems published. A little manuscript fixing and ghostwriting. Too many false starts, conference calls and proposals that went nowhere in particular. Rejections and acceptances. Literary festivals, school visits, and talks via Skype. Interviews with Donna Tartt (phone) and Carlos Ruiz Zafon (in person). Self-doubt, despair, bursts of enthusiasm. Stories and schemes jostling in my head.
Two sparkling friends no longer here: Sarah Mohl and Sarah Doerries. It still feels implausible and wrong to write those words. They're ahead of me now, with my cousin (and godfather) Laly Haddon, and my mother's dear friend Cron Crosby, two towering men who didn't see out 2013.
This year I wasn't planning to make any new resolutions, but today a name swirled into mind: Graham Greene. I'd like to read more of his work, and I'd like to try my hand at writing every day, as he did - though I won't stop mid-sentence when I've reached 500, his usual goal.
So that's my 2014 resolution: Graham Greene. It's all I can manage, given that ongoing resolution - write, work, earn - mentioned above.
Tom Moody and I ended 2013 by getting very dressed up in Mexico. We may not look so well-groomed in 2014, and I will almost certainly not be wearing false eyelashes again at any point. But we'll keep on being happy, and trying to make something of ourselves, in our own haphazard way.