Aiming For Peace

Aiming For Peace

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).

Accurate picture of me considering academia.

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.

“Joy” is just NOT the word I’d use for my writing

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.

A screencap of a video. I'm wearing a dark orange jumper and sitting in front of a bookshelf filled with colourful books, organised alphabetically. I have one fist clenched and a regretful expression.
I want to continue screencapping my videos to obtain amusing facial expressions….

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.

A selfie taken on a train. I have short dark hair and I'm wearing a light green scarf, a dark hoodie, and a white peace poppy.
There’s a reason I spent Remembrance Day at Friends’ House.

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.

8 thoughts on “Aiming For Peace

  1. My goals for the year are to release two short story anthologies (I put the call for submissions up today, so I’m part of the way to one), get all of my own short stories either placed in a publication or retired, and publish another novel.

    I like Finn Longmore as a writing name: it’s easy enough for English readers to remember (and pronounce) but isn’t so generic it will get lost in a sea of other authors using the same name.

    There are theories about which sorts of names work best for which genres, but I’m not strongly convinced it makes a significant difference in most circumstances.

    1. I do like the advice that says to figure out which authors you’d be next to on a shelf in your preferred genre, but since several of my favourite authors are in the R-T portion of the alphabet, I’m not entirely following that one. But there’s some good company under L. It’s very similar to my real name, so doesn’t feel entirely alien to me, but gives me that little bit of detachment between my public (writing) life and my personal life, which is what I want from a pseudonym.

  2. Finn Longmore really suits you! My name means peace and it’s something that means so much to me. My great grandfather was handed white feathers on the street during wwi for not signing up,and there are photos of me, as a three year old, bearing signs that say ‘time out George Bush’. This year I want to think of ways to live radically and peacefully of my own accord, beyond the many gifts and tools my family have given me to enable me to do so. I’m taking an anthropology course about reconciliation an, though I myself will be living in a lovely but probably bland Christian dlar, I want to be more involved with my Catholic Social Worker neighbours, who pray outside the Indonesian embassy for West Papua and things like that. It’s cool that you mention the Quakers, I have met a few of them and it’s a really wonderful movement. In other news, I think I want my new year to be honest, and so fwiw, I love your blog and really appreciate your perspectives on academia and thoughtfulness in general, so thanks so much. Also if you ever want a reader for one of your books I would be so privileged to (or on the off chance that you have time/spoons/ to read my writing you’d obviously be welcome)

    1. Ahh that’s so interesting! I was always vaguely aware of my great grandfather’s role as a conchie but it wasn’t until a lot more recently that I actually discovered any details about it and started identifying more strongly as a pacifist myself, though I’ve always leaned that way. Your course sounds very interesting!

  3. Peace… I love that. I think mine for this year would be something like growth. I don’t know much about Quakers, but my mum had a friend who was one, and they seem really cool. Definitely pro peace (one of the things I’m happiest about in 2018 is that I helped a friend realise she didn’t want to join the military(and also, like, Jesus and the person herself) (side note: another friend wanted to but got rejected because they don’t take ppl with mental health records? Which I think is bad but I was also happy about??). Anyway, it’s interesting you have some Baptist history! I currently go to a baptist church, but I find their theology (especially anything anti-LGBTQ+) quite frustrating. Anyway I hope you have a g8 year!! (also yes this is now feb I guess I just periodically stalk you here?

    1. I think Baptists are quite a varied bunch. I don’t know if you’re in the US or the UK or elsewhere, but the impression I get is that US Baptists are a lot more homophobic and so on than UK ones, who seem slightly more progressive (and of course, things vary even between churches within one organisation). I wouldn’t say my church’s track record with LGBTQ+ issues was fantastic, but it wasn’t … awful? Like. I didn’t make a point of being out at church, but several members of the church had me as a friend on Facebook so very much knew I was queer. It was more a case of “we just don’t talk about this” than active homophobia, so yeah, not fantastic but could’ve been so much worse. And while people in my church were initially very much against equal marriage and so on, several members of church leadership later changed their minds and said very publicly that they’d changed their minds, which I appreciated; at least they were willing to admit that they were wrong. I do think there’s some insidious teaching in there though, that gets disguised under a thin veneer of respectability. It’s not hellfire and damnation, but it can still make a queer kid hate themselves…

      1. Yes! I’m in NZ actually. Anyway, I used to go to a very queer-friendly Baptist church (like, they’d do marriages even though the general Baptist stance was ‘no equal marriage’, whereas Anglicans were a lot more open. ) Now I’m living further south, which is generally more conservative (just like the American south haha). One time recently we had this terrible talk which was all like ‘God works in people’s lives and will talk to them about their issues, but as your young adult pastor I’m just going to tell you what I think, which is Love the Sinner, hate the sin. URGH. I think the church really needs to keep thinking and talking and looking for equality. Anyway, it’s great that you’re posting about your search for religion <3 <3

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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