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I’m not usually one for formal New Year’s Resolutions, but since everyone else was doing it, it seemed almost rude not to. I’d be telling fibs if I said I had a list drawn up, or a concrete plan for change, but there are a few things I think I should address in 2018.

First: I need to brush up on my Japanese. To this end, I’ve dug out my Japanese for Busy People and Genki textbooks from my Japanese classes, and I’m also making use of the lang-8 account I started and was too scared to use back in 2014. (My fear of Being Wrong in Japanese is still strong, but I also recognise now that if you don’t make mistakes, you don’t learn. And the Japanese lang-8 users are very gracious in correcting my plentiful errors.) I’m off to Japan in March for fourteen days, and I’d love to have the confidence to communicate – however piecemeal it may be!

Second: Fitness. My arthritic joints aren’t getting any better, and I was recently diagnosed as hypothyroid thanks to Hashimoto’s Disease. Clearly my body is telling me something! I enjoy lifting weights but I think I also need something more structured to encourage consistency – exercise isn’t something that comes naturally to me. I joined a new gym in December and I’ve been trying out various classes. Pilates and Tai Chi are great, and I need to work up the courage to try out the Boxercise class (I fear my woefully low levels of cardiovascular fitness will lead me to collapse and embarrass myself mid-class). And of course, eventually, I’d love to get back into lifting those heavy weights.

Third: Writing goals. I completed my first Master’s essay over Christmas, and it felt very good to get back into academic writing. It helped enormously that the subject matter was engaging (so much so that I actually had to cut out an intended section of the essay because I’d already overshot the word count.) My Spring term module is on ‘The Victorian Fin-de-Siecle’, which is proving to be very interesting already.

(Also: more writing means less Facebook. I’m finding Twitter is my preferred platform at the moment, and I think less Facebook will hopefully encourage more blogging – in English and in stilted, terrified Japanese.)

In terms of fiction writing…I have no project commitments outstanding, so I am in the daunting position of being able to write whatever I feel like. I’ve read some truly incredible stories in the past few months, and intermingled with reader’s joy was a touch of writer’s despair – I’ll never be able to write like this. I am opting to take this as a challenge rather than as a self-rebuke and I hope to up my game this year, and focus on quality rather than quantity. Time will tell if this is a successful tactic, or whether the latter half of 2018 will see me sobbing face-down on the floor by my bookcase and vowing to live a life of literary hermitage. There’s much to look forward to in 2018 from a reader’s perspective (not least Priya Sharma’s forthcoming collection ‘All The Fabulous Beasts‘ from Undertow Publications) so whatever my writing life brings this year, my reading life should be very rich indeed.

News update: Laika nomination and Locus review

I discovered this morning, browsing Twitter (as you do), that “Looking for Laika” made the longlist of nominees for the British Science Fiction Association Awards! It’s a pretty full list of nominees, with some quality stories on there, so it’s pretty awesome to have made the longlist.

And “Naming the Bones” has been reviewed by John Langan in the January edition of Locus Magazine. He had some very nice things to say about it, and I’m thrilled that my first ever review in a print magazine is a good one. (Having a book of mine appear in a print magazine – and Locus Magazine, no less! – is a bit of a ‘bucket list’ ambition for me!)

Not a bad way to start 2018!