new year

The Memory Jar

I’ll keep this brief, because I imagine that by now you have seen enough “end of year” posts to last you until… well, next year. But I can’t let the end of a year slide past without mention (and let’s gloss over how I’ve basically let the last two months go without comment, shall we?).

It’s been an interesting year, both for good and for less-good. I learned some things: some have made my life better, some… let’s just say I wish learning them hadn’t been as painful as it was. But you can’t ask for joy without accepting a little sadness, and that was what I really hoped for this year. I dreamed of bonfires and magic and stars and joy – and by and large, that’s what I found.

jar of happy memories

On New Year’s Day, I sat this jam jar on the windowsill in our kitchen. It was empty, except for a bright green post-it note inside explaining that this was the “Good Things Jar”, reminding me to write the things that made me happy over the year on slips of paper and drop them in, to be read on New Year’s Eve. Looking at it now, I’m not sure I could fit many more in. I remember some of them anyway – the big things that you don’t forget – but the rest are a question, waiting to be answered tonight when I unfold the pieces of paper.

What would a “Bad Things” jar have looked like, I wonder? Would it have been as full? Maybe. Maybe not. The point is, I don’t care. Happiness can come from the smallest places as well as the bigger ones. We find joy where we look for it – and that’s what I wanted to do. To look. To notice. Not to simply pass it by. And as the year dies, to remember.

When I get up tomorrow morning, there will be a jam jar sitting on the kitchen windowsill. Empty of paper, but full of promise. Because that’s what New Year is all about.

I usually end each year with a song (not mine, don’t panic), and I thought I had this year’s one all picked out. I did, in fact, right until I sat down at my computer to type… and then it changed. Because suddenly, I can’t think of any better way to wind up the year than with this.

So may your New Year be full of hope, and may everything that follows be all that you could ever dream. And when New Year’s Eve rolls around again, may your jam jars be overflowing.


The View From Here

Well, here we are. It’s the end of 2012: you know, the year we were all supposed to bite it in the Great Unspecified Apocalypse, which may or may not have involved John Cusack… and provided our luck holds (and that the Winchester Boys don’t doze off), tomorrow is the start of a brand new, shiny year.

A couple of days ago, I asked you to tell me the things that have made you happy this year, rather than just spend a bunch of words telling you all about ME some more. And you did – so here they are. In no particular order…

Kim Curran (@kimecurran): I had SO many joyful moments this year, from book deals to flying lessons. But new friends has to top it all.

Jennifer Williams (@sennydreadful):┬áThis year I finished writing the book that is dearest to me, and I now have an agent! Top year all round ­čÖé

Anne Lyle (@AnneLyle):┬áThe novel I’d worked on for 5 years was finally published – and the sequel too! Lifetime goal achieved ­čśÇ

Juliet Mushens (@mushenska): HAPPY 2012 THINGS: for me, amazing amazing list of clients I adore and very exciting new job. (and great glasses.)

Andrew Reid (@mygoditsraining): Seeing good friends, getting headway on a lot of projects. Miles to go, but nice to make progress. Also:

(Ah, yes. No review of the year would be complete without reference to the Great Twitter Gif War of 2012…)

Rebecca Bowden (@Bex_Bowden): Being offered representation by world’s best leopard-print loving, hair flicking super-agent!┬áMaking great progress on projects and learning a lot about the publishing industry.┬áFamily trips, quality time with loved ones & fun times with supportive friends!

Marguerite Kenner (@museofchaos):┬á┬áMy┬á#bringthejoy┬áis definitely having moved to England with Alasdair Stuart. Big risk, bigger reward. ­čÖé

@Sci-Fi Bulletin: Most joy? Seeing a group of non-singers become a unified choir and loving making music #bringthejoy

Leanne Bennett (@LeanneBennett):┬á┬áAfter having been nearly mute for much of the first half of the year – it’s awful not to have a voice – I have started regaining my ability to speak. It took a number of surgeries which were primarily to fix a breathing problem, but the offshoot is that I can now be heard. It’s slow progress, and I often sound either like a 40-a-day smoker or like I have a very bad throat, but there is such joy in being able to be heard.

Chris Roberts (@deadclownart): 2012 left the fam fairly unscathed. got to make art for rad writers & presses. uncle to 2 baby girls (via 2 sibs)

GingerNutNinja: 1. I got some beautiful new skis. Nothing deep and meaningful, but remind me of happy times been and to come just by looking at them.

2. Got part time job at office which made me realise old job which crushed self-esteem, made me miserable and didn’t even pay to compensate for the suffering … is an office exception, not necessarily the norm. Hurrah for wonderful, supportive, flexible new boss.

3. Started fulfilling a resolution. I believe work is the thing you do the minimum of to afford to do the maximum of everything else. Life is too cool to have it any other way. This year I did a few random things that were silly fun and utterly unadult. One was joining a no budget web series as part of the fight unit. It might be utter rubbish, but I had fun. And might even get my name as a no one on IMDB.
Fun. It should be taken seriously. I’m proud of taking the risk, taking a few days unpaid, just to do something I’d never otherwise be involved in.

Life is good, even when it’s not perfect. It’s never perfect.

Jo Hall (@hierath77): This year, after a three-year hunt, I finally found a publisher for Art of Forgetting, and it’s coming out next year. ┬áDream come true!

Alasdair Stuart (@alasdairstuart):

I’m going to cheat and go with two, but they’re connected:) The first is Marguerite, and the fact I got to spend the Summer with her in California and then move back to a new part of the UK and start a life here. 2012 was a year of huge risk after huge risk for us both and we ran headlong at them, hand in hand and I’ve never been happier. Plus she’s a huge goofball and MASSIVE fun to sit next to at concerts:) I love her completely:)

The second is that, thanks to her, and our new start, I’m finally getting my work together. I swore off fiction, because it was making me miserable, months ago and ended up doing NanoJourno instead of NaNoWriMo. I wrote 135,000 words in one month, clearing my decks and setting me up for 2012. After years of being crippled with indecision and distraction and insecurity, of feeling like the unwanted, unneeded, incompetent party guest, I know, with absolute certainty that I can do this, I’m good at this. It’s a baseline level of confidence I’ve never had before and that may be why I signed up to Colin Barnes’ 1,000,000 words in 2013 challenge. I didn’t have that confidence before I met her and it’s incredible to feel it now.

A million words? Yeah, let’s DO THIS.


So there you go. Reading through that makes me happy. It covers everything, doesn’t it? From the littlest things up to some really quite big things – and that’s the way it should be. Life is made up of big and small; of hugely important and of microscopically trivial… and everything in between. We should hope to find happiness everywhere and anywhere on the spectrum. If I’ve missed anyone, I apologise – if you’ve got anything to add, feel free to leave a comment and tell us your happy thing(s) of 2012.

As for me? My highlights have to include launching BLOOD AND FEATHERS in Forbidden Planet, and helping to launch the two anthologies I was involved in at FantasyCon this year.

They have to include meeting the wonderful Juliet Mushens and signing as one of her clients.

They have to include my massive good fortune in knowing my friends and in being able to work with the people I work with (Juliet, yes, and Marie and Paul, and Jon, and Dave and Pye and Ben and Mike. Thank you all for your faith!)

They have to include seeing my son in his first school play (even if I spent the preceding two weeks whinging about having to make a whale costume. Seriously, though. A whale?)… and so many more things.

If you had any part in any of this, then thank you. Thank you to everyone who supported the book: thank you to everyone who bought it and read it. Whether you liked it or not, thank you for giving it a shot.

Thank you (as always) to the people who get me through the years, the weeks, the days… and who make me look forward to the ones still to come.

Thank you to everyone who joined in the spirit of “Bring the Joy”, or with the blog, or Twitter, in general.

And if you were around this time last year, you know I like to wind up the year with a song.

We waved off 2011 with the Foo Fighters.

I can’t think of any better song to say “Adios!” to 2012 than this one, and nobody better to sing it.

So long, 2012.

2013? Bring it on.