Jenn Butterworth and Nuala Kennedy
Why does everyone have to be so gloomy at this time of year? Many of the New year posts I have read this festive have lamented the passing of a decade with regrets and blame ladled out in the bucketful (or snow shovelful). The banks have failed us, the government don’t know what they’re doing, our planet is doomed, child poverty is rife in Scotland, our livers are to be saved with a minimum alcohol pricing policy, we can’t go anywhere because the terrorist will kill us, Scottish football is in disarray and we have run out of grit.
I refuse to be pessimistic. The BBC Scotland Hogmanay programme was one of the best they have aired for years, not least because one of the house band was a former guitar teacher of mine, Jenn Butterworth. The quality of music pulled together by Phil Cunningham and his crew bodes well for the vibrant Scottish traditional music scene and the year ahead. And Celtic Connections is just round the corner.
Each year I give myself objectives. Last year I aimed to reduce my carbon footprint and I believe I achieved that. All waste that can be recycled is recycled, at most I put out a full carrier bag amount of rubbish to landfill each week. Most of my food was and still is bought locally, and like last year I gave home made food hampers as Christmas presents. Not only is this a cheaper way of doing things it cuts down on unwanted Stuff that no one wants or needs.
My big failing was to have three short haul flights. This year is going to be different.
Procrastination be gone!
Procrastination is a writer’s biggest enemy. Email and the internet are the willing accomplices of the procrastinator. Today I spent all day unsubscribing to the hundreds of newsletters that flutter to me through the course of each session. I have been hard and cut out all those diversion I have built around me to make me feel wanted, things that give me no benefit and often prove toxic.
My big fat Wii
Over indulgence is a given at this time of year but my Wii Fit is bullying me along and I have high hopes for a slimmer figure and more energy by Easter. For some strange reason I seem to excel at the more violent pursuits like boxing, swordplay and kungfu. It’s a great way to get writer’s frustration out of my system.
There is nothing mightier than the pen in my arsenal
My writing went well last year but my submission rate was abysmal. This year I plan to write more short stories and to submit many more pieces to publishers, agents and magazines. I also intend to try my hand at more competitions. Last year I entered three national competitions and had one success.
Let’s face the music
One Christmas present Santa brought was a Chieftain whistle, a big silver brute that gives my hand cramp. At the moment I can just about manage a scale. Big challenges there I fear.
And although my guitar practice has slipped over the holiday period, last year I learned many new chords, performed in public three times and I am looking forward to continuing to pick up new tunes like the Ashokan Farewell on the clip.
This may sound mushy but as I grow older I realise that families are the most important people in our lives. I need to remind myself of that more often.
A word about the weather
This post would not be complete without a word out the recent weather to have hit the UK. The rest of the northern hemisphere must be laughing up their sleeves at the fuss we make. But I would like to give a big acknowledgement to Council workers, not just the men who have battled to keep our main highways open but also to the Carers.
My mother lives in Fife and has a carer visit her morning and night. While others, me included, could have a holiday and hide indoors, these low paid workers battled up and down snow stormed and icy pavements to bring care to those who need it. My mum appreciates it and I am sure many other do too.
2010 is going to be a great year (once we dig out of the snow), not just for me but for the world.