Every year since I was a child I’ve started each new diary on January 1st with a list of the resolutions I intend to fulfill throughout the year. It’s not a particularly imaginative way to start the year but the habit’s stuck and so it continues.
In recent years, since I discovered the wonderful writer’s diary produced by the literary magazine MsLexia my resolutions have become more focused. I still promise myself this is the year I’m going to get in shape, start fencing again, become a fully fledged domestic goddess and make more time for housework but it seems to make a lot more sense to resolve to do things I have a chance of following through rather than setting myself up for disappointment before I start.
So every year the first page of the diary is the home of my professional aspirations, a point by point plan of where I want to be by the end of the year. Some resolutions have been in the same place for years but others have seen some definate movement. It’s always interesting to look back over old diaries and see where you thought you were going.
This year was a tricky one. I’ve never been in this situation at the turn of the year you see. On the one hand I’ve achieved something I’ve been wanting to do for as long as I can remember and I’m closer to where I want to be than I ever have. On the other hand I’m technically jobless and let’s be honest, it’s not exactly the best time to be looking for alternative employment.
Rather than simply throwing a load of ideas at the wall when it comes to resolution time, in the hope that at least one of them will stick, I now have to work out what I need to do to finally achieve my dreams.
On the one hand I’d like to concentrate on my novel, on the other building on the genre I’ve been writing in so far seems like the most sensible path, and the one that’s more likely to put bread on the table in the short term.
These musings probably sound rather self indulgent – after all I could simply hang on and push away exactly as I have been for the past couple of years. After all, that’s got me where I am today.
It’s not that simple though. I describe myself as a writer and a journalist on this blog. It might seem like an unnecessary repetition but I think it’s an important distinction. Journalism is what I trained at. It’s how I pay the bills and hopefully how I will continue to pay them for the moment. But writing is what I’ve always done. Ever since I can remember I’ve told stories and woven plots. I’m happiest when I’m making things up.
When I’m writing a piece of journalism or working on non-fiction I can tell the story and try to craft the existing plot into it’s sleekest form but I can’t deviate from the facts. There are plenty of stories that need and deserve to be told in the world we live in and that’s why I love journalism but the satisfaction I get from telling a true story is nothing compared to following the thread of an idea inside your head and pulling in narrative rules until you have something that stands alongside reality, mirroring it but with your fingerprints all over it.
This isn’t exactly what I intended to be writing here. When I started this blog it was to go hand in hand with the publication of the Devil in the Red Dress so this kind of artistic rush of whimsy was to be strictly banished in favour of clear, well-described facts and figures.
But this year, as I write down the latest batch of resolutions in the brand new writer’s diary I’m faced with the realisation that I’m going to have to start talking about this kind of stuff because like it or not it’s the writing I want to pursue more than anything else.
I’ll still be down at the Four Courts following trials from time to time but this year I want to pursue other things so you’re going to see a rather different side to me here. I’m rather nervous about introducing a rather more personal aspect to this “personal blog” but I might as well start the year as I mean to go on…that’s what resolutions are all about!
So what can you expect to read here from now on? Well if I’m down in the courts there’ll be more of my impressions of proceedings as I’ve done so far with trials like those of Finn Colclough and Dane Pearse. But this year I want to write more about other things I write and the reality of being a (in all probability struggling) freelance writer/ journo. I’ve been at this point several times over the years and I’ve always decided to do the sensible thing in terms of following the most regular source of income. Well now it seems like a concerted push is needed if I’m ever going to have anything other than a double-barrelled profession.
God knows what I’ll be writing on the first page of next years diary. This year it all feels a little bit make or break. Wish me luck!