On New Year’s Eve, I posted on Facebook that I didn’t really consider 2013 a “bad” year, because the phrase implied a certain passiveness. No, 2013 wasn’t bad; it was actively hostile.

German Christmas markets are now officially my favourite thing in the entire world.

German Christmas markets are now officially my favourite thing in the entire world.

There were a lot of fantastic things about this year. I travelled a ridiculous amount, with trips to Baltimore and Austin, Montreal and Mainz, Germany. I began, and and close to finishing, my first novel. I signed a representation agreement with an incredible agent, and my work is appearing more widely than ever before. I adopted the first dog of my adult life, and my heart has expanded with love for this weird little animal in a way I never could have expected. It’s been a year of extremes and opportunities.

Through all the excitement and heightened energy, 2013 also seemed to be actively trying to kill, maim and destroy everyone around me. Friends and colleagues suffered through every imaginable kind of ill-health and disaster. My partner lost his job, fell ill, and dealt with several major crises in his immediate family. It was a year of upheaval and change, and not always for the better.  2013 was a year to be survived.

A day later, and the world is still the very same, but despite the lack of logic behind it, there seems to be that little bit of hopeful freshness that comes with any new beginning. It feels like a chance to sharpen blades, polish armour, and strategize.

So these aren’t resolutions, so much as the are plans of attack. I don’t expect 2014 to be as malevolent as its predecessor but neither will I be caught off guard.

Make health and self care a priority.

I’m really terrible at this. It sounds so stupid, but as soon as I’m extremely busy or under any kind of stress or pressure, the first thing to go is my ability to take care of myself. I’ll skip sleep, won’t eat properly, won’t give myself breaks, won’t allow myself rest. This year, a friend introduced me to the rules of Jason Bourne, from the series of novels, and while they’re intended to apply to the work on an elite spy, they struck a deep chord with me, especially “rest is a weapon.” This year, I want to make more of an effort to follow this particular rule, and engage is self care in other ways. Rest doesn’t just mean sleep; it means opportunities to think, relax, let go, unwind. I want to pay better attention to how I am fuelling my body, and make sure that it has what it needs. I want to make sure that I protect my time, and compromise less on doing things I know make me feel good, give me pleasure, and help keep me strong.

Read more widely, and for pleasure.

I was asked by Open Book Toronto what my literary resolutions for 2014 were, and here’s what I said:

“My primary literary resolution for 2014 is to diversify my reading, making a conscious and concerted effort to choose more books that don’t necessarily reflect my identity and experience. In particular, I want to read more books by writers of colour, LGBTQ authors, and writers from different cultural, economic, and religious backgrounds. I want to embody #DiverseCanLit in the books I’m reading and reviewing in 2013.”
(Further to this: The mega-rad Leonicka Valcius will be hosting a weekly #DiverseCanLit twitter chat starting January 8th 2014, and you should absolutely be a part of it. )
“I also want to read more for pleasure, rather than books that I think are somehow “good” for me. In my case, this means more science fiction and fantasy, more horror, more comics, and more collections of speculative fiction short stories.”
Write for myself, every day.
I’m going to allow myself  be pretty gentle with this one; “every day” is a loose guideline and an ideal, but isn’t something that is going to happen 100% of the time. That said, I want to make an active, conscious effort to make time and space for my own projects, and to prioritize them more than I have been able to. As I’ve gotten deeper and deeper into the novel, the more I have learned that I absolutely adore writing it, and that I have more stories in me. It’s also clear that these projects deserve me at my best and sharpest, not at the very end of the day when I am already exhausted. So this is not s much a resolution to simply give my creative work time, but to give it better quality time as well.
Whatever your goals are, whatever your hopes and resolutions for the coming year, I wish you all the luck and strength in the world.

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