It would have been around about this time last year when my then girlfriend and I were having dinner at some place up in the hills and we got to talking about what we wanted to do the following year. It was exciting. It was going to be a year of Doing Things. Of going places. And, for me, of short stories. I think I’d only just got comfortable with saying that I was a short story writer back then; I’d not long read Aimee Bender and Etgar Keret and those sorts of wonderful, brilliant people, and I felt, finally, that I knew what I wanted to do and I was (reasonably) comfortable in the doing of it. It was going to be a great year.

Best laid plans, and all that. 
As you’ll know too well if you’ve been reading this blog for a while it hasn’t turned out to be an exciting year of doing things. Early in the year it transpired that my then girlfriend had a list of her own and we split up. It was painful. And then I got ill, which was painful too. You know, I’ve spent a fair amount of time moaning about these sorts of things on here, and I’m not going to now. My point is that I was a little dubious about making any sort of plans for 2010.
But I did.
I wrote a list the other day. There are the obvious things on it, things like doing more exercise (I recently lost the beard and discovered I’d gained a flabby neck) and maybe giving up smoking, but there are other things on there too. Things like doing more stuff. I’ve spent most of this year writing and it’s tired me out, to some degree, and to a greater degree it’s kept me in my office and on my own. I’ve not done as much by way of workshops as I could, which I’d like to change. So those are the sorts of things that have made their way onto my list.
But this is the most important one, I think:

And it feels that I’m on the right course to achieve that. This year my stories have appeared in some really cool places (so I’m doing something right) and it feels like I’m writing well and still learning. It’s all about learning.
Which has been another big feature of 2009. I’ve learned a lot about writing and about the industry, and I’ve seen what brilliant people there are in it. People who genuinely care about stories and books and writers and literature and I’ve learned that most of those people are great and lovely and cool. And I am incredibly fortunate to be able to call some of those people my friends.
And I think I’ve learned a lot about people as well. I’ve learned (sadly, but it has had its benefits) that some people aren’t nice. That some people are selfish. That some people will use you. That some people are hypocrites. That some people are chronically wrong and that some chronically don’t care. And I’ve learned that there’s a lot of rubbish on the internet and in the papers and that, actually, there’s nothing I can do about it no matter how much I shake my head and scream ‘that’s just not true’ at the computer screen (mostly it seems to be things about short stories). (And yes, I do count myself among those who aren’t always nice – I can be (more than) an arse at times.)
But. Here we are. We’re at the end of the year. Outside there’s snow falling, and in the street lights it sparkles; that could be magic. Some of it’s stuck. Christmas is just around the corner. And after it, January and the whole of 2010. A whole new year. To do stuff in. To be happy, or at least try to be. To write. To make stuff up. To make mistakes and to learn from them. To learn more.
Now that it’s almost here, in a reserved and cautious way, I’m quietly excited. 
(And while I’m talking about lists, here’s a very short story I wrote about one.)

19 Comments on “Lists

  1.  by  L-Plate Author

    Great post Nik. I'm quietly excited about the New Year too. It's a great chance to leave things behind (hopefully, like you, illness) and start again with a tiny bit of hope. Good luck for 2010 and make sure you tick everything off your list! x

  2.  by  Nik Perring

    Thank folks. Yes, you're right, LW.And thanks L-plate. Just read your post on similar things – you've not had the easiest of years, have you? Really sorry to hear about your dad and dog.Here's to a happier year for us all.Nik X

  3.  by  Vanessa Gebbie

    Dear Nik – May I wish you the things you deserve. I wish a very kind man kindness in abundance.I wish a very generous man generosity from his friends and colleagues.I wish a man who supported me when I needed it, the support of a strong and good community of writersif he should ever need it.I wish you well-deserved continued success in what you do.Most of all, I wish you happiness.Happy Christmas, and Happy New Year.with loveVxxx

  4.  by  Nicola Morgan

    "Doing more stuff" is a very good resolution. Just make sure it's the stuff you want, eh?? All the best for a wonderful and fulfilling and interesting 2010 (and also the rest of 2009). Nx

  5.  by  Teresa Stenson

    The week between Christmas and New Year is my favourite time of year: it's such a hopeful time. I know it's not here yet but it seems you have that hopeful feeling, which is a great way to feel about life.To 2010 – *Chink*

  6.  by  Tania Hershman

    Nik, here's wishing you so much greatness in 2010! And I would like to point out that it is very cool that you can link to one of your published short stories from your sort-of-New-Year's-Resolution post, I don't think you could have done that last year. Yes, some people are totally crap, but most people are wonderful, open, warm, supportive, genuinely interested, inspiring, giving and real. May we all spend more time around those sorts of people! Here's to "real" meetings next year too. And more sparkling streets!T

  7.  by  Anne Brooke

    Hope 2010 is much more your year, Nik – have a truly relaxing Christmas break and a good start to the New Year.Loads of hugsAxxx

  8.  by  Lauri Kubuitsile

    I love the end of the year. I like taking a moment to look back and see what I've done. I also love the clean slate feel of a new year. A creative successful 2010 to you, Nik.

  9.  by  Michelle Teasdale

    Sorry you've not had a good year in some aspects, Nik. It's a bit of a cliche to say it, but it does make you stronger. Plus it gives you something to write about too! The best creative work comes from tough times xx

  10.  by  SueG

    A wonderful post, Nik. wishing you a happy and healthy holiday, and that all of your wishes for 2010 – and more – come true!

  11.  by  Megan

    Living and writing and having more fun – go, Nik!! All the very best to you for a happy, happy, HAPPY 2010m xxx

  12.  by  Welshcake

    The one thing I both love and hate about life is that however many lists and plans you make, you never know what's going to happen.Sometimes bad stuff, really bad stuff, happens. Sometimes great stuff happens. Sometimes nothing much happens. The most important thing is to hang on in there so you find out what happens in the end. It's like sticking with a novel that has bumpy patches. Hope 2010 brings more of the great stuff and less of the bad.xx

  13.  by  Nik Perring

    Thanks Lane – and you too honey.Welshcake, you are so right – it is about seeing what happens. Thank you.Hi DK – thanks for stopping by. Thrilled to hear you liked my little story.Nik

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