1. Forgive me banging on (yes, this is the post of double entendres), but on 28 March 2012, Losing It will make its way into the world. Penguin has been doing some great pre-publicity and whipping up anticipation (see here and here), and I can’t wait. It seems an interminably long time since I started it, back in 2008, to now. It’s had three editors, and been rewritten, restructured and re-edited so many times I’ve lost count. It’s taken in the stories of so many friends who have, for years, been saying, ‘So where is it?’ Now, finally, I can say: here. Nearly.
2. I loathe this time of the year. I know I’m Grinchy, but I have yet to live through a year where I don’t wash up after Christmas a wreck of exhaustion and wanting nothing more than to lie in a darkened room alone with a bottle of white and a pill to take me to mid-January. Until I was 12 I loved Christmas and the smell of wheat dust on the easterly and playing chasey with my cousins, darting in and around the shaded paths my grandfather had built in his backyard. After that, something happened, perhaps a new awareness of the gap between who I was and who some of my family wanted me to be, and Christmas made me feel the objectionable weight of their disappointment. And now, though Christmas is now filled with civilised lunches and spending time with family and friends I love, I can’t shake the dread of it. Anybody else with me?
It does, however, cause one to reflect on the year that’s passed: this year has been a mixed bag, to put it mildly. I haven’t had any publications out, apart from this republication, but I’ve done a lot of writing, having finished a project for Penguin and almost finished my junior novel, and am excited about the writing (and publications) to come. And next year there will be lots of festivals I will be appearing at: more news on those as confirmed. I am extremely happy in my new job, in contrast to this time last year. So these positive things are an antidote to other aspects of my life, which are difficult and bound to become ever more so. (My summer reading program is going to include Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking.)
3. It’s been a sad week for the world of literature and ideas: Russell Hoban died, followed by Christopher Hitchens. My summer reading program will also include more of Hoban’s work: I fell in love with Turtle Diary when I was 17 and have re-read it every few years since. I admired Christopher Hitchens’ robust intelligence, erudition and gusto for debate: although I did not agree with some of his opinions, I always respected the sheer weight of information and scrutiny that went into making those opinions.
4. The garden is an extravagance of produce: corn waves at us through the window each morning; I bite into squirty cherry tomatoes hot from the sun, munch on crisp peas, suck the juice out of sweet strawberries; there is enough rocket to feed a middle-class army. I’ve also grown enough garlic to knock out all the characters, major and minor, in Twilight.
5. I wish you all a productive, happy and uneventful (in the Chinese sense) 2012. I leave you with one of my favourite Blackadder quotes: Needs must when the devil vomits into your kettle. Make of that what you will.