I’ve been trying to think about what my main goals for 2019 are, but I’m finding it tricky. A year is a long time — as I said in my last post, while I didn’t achieve everything I set out to do last year, I also achieved a bunch of things it would never have occurred to me to aim for, because things change.
This year is particularly unpredictable because it’s my first year out of education in, like, nineteen years. I can’t predict what will happen to me job-wise, or whether I’ll still be living in London by the end of it, or whether I’ll have fallen headfirst back into the academia void and find myself applying for Master’s programmes (which seems… not improbable, though I’m convinced it’s a bad idea on several levels and I’m resisting the prospect).
Of course I want to keep writing, but I’m not sure which projects I’m going to be focusing on. I want to query — I’ve been saying for years that I will, but I never do it. But should I query Butterfly of Night, which is ready (I even have a query and synopsis to hand), or focus on polishing one of my other projects and using that?
I don’t know what direction I want my writing career to take. Butterfly of Night is YA, but on the upper end of it, and likewise Bard. The closest comp title for my most recent novel, To Run With The Hound, is probably The Song of Achilles — an adult book, though one that has a lot of crossover appeal with YA. Is TRWTH adult, or is it YA? I have, frankly, no idea. It could be both. Maybe it would make sense to focus my attention on the YA genre, except that I know Death and Fairies is adult, so in the knowledge that my work will always straddle the divide, how do I choose what comes down on which side?
Not being sure where I want to go in future makes it hard to decide what to do now — whether to query this project, whether to focus on agents who rep mainly YA or whether to try my best to keep my options open… And that’s not even going into the ongoing question of what name I want to write under.
This year, though, I will change my professional name. I’ve been talking about it for way too long without doing anything, and I need to just… make a decision, and do it. The longer I use ‘Miriam Joy’, the harder it’s going to be to make the switch, and I’ve been uncomfortable with it for enough years that it’s just getting silly now.
Current best option: Finn Longmore. My dance organisation misspelled my surname on my certificate for an exam, leading to Longmore, but I actually… kind of like it? Any thoughts?
Talking of dance, of course I want to keep going with that. I’d like, by the end of 2019, to have competed in at least one competition in Ireland, as well as going to some in the UK — I think that would be a big, meaningful step for me, and it would be fun to have a weekend in Dublin or somewhere where I get to do some dance.
I want to read, I want to keep taking photos, I want to make more medieval videos for YouTube, I want to get my book blog back up and running after its recent hiatus… they’re all pretty conventional goals, and there’s not much to say about them.
But I’ve seen a lot of people talk about having a focus word for the year, something that’s at the root of what they’re doing. Like ‘brave’, that’s one I saw. I’ve never gone in for this myself, but I had a think about it, and I decided if I have a word for this year, it’s peace.
I want to be at peace with myself. I want to manage my anxiety better. I want to accept my strengths and limitations, and to be confident about what I can do rather than resenting what I can’t. I want to make peace with my body, even when it doesn’t look or behave the way I want it to, and I want to continue finding ways to live life in a way that feels authentic to my identity.
I also want to be at peace with the world. I want to stop holding onto grudges, and get better at living the kind of radical forgiveness that I profess to be my ideology. I want to be more understanding of others, and not to assume the worst. I want to form more meaningful connections with people with whom I don’t necessarily have a lot in common.
And finally, on a larger level, I want to learn more about peacemakers both present and historical, and work out what role I can play in working towards peace and reconciliation in the world as a whole. I want to know more about my great grandfather, who was a conscientious objector, and I want to spend more time with Quakers and get involved in the work they’re doing.
So on a personal, interpersonal, and global level… I want 2019 to be a peaceful year.
Do you have goals or a focus for 2019? Let me know in the comments.