Happy New Year. Excited to be posting the last of these monthly roundups from 2019, what a rush, can you even believe it? *sits back and waits for blogosphere to explode, if the blogosphere is even a thing in 2020*
I read 1 book in December. It was a fairly busy month. But it does bring my yearly total up to 70! My goal was 24, or 2 a month. So I am very happy with that, even though I have already forgotten a lot of what I read… Lucky I blogged about them all eh no. I will try and do a bit of a summary and set up some writing goals for this year in a future post.
Books I listened to on Audible
My Name Is Why – Lemn Sissay
The one book I read in December is important and horrifying and absolutely enraging. It’s about how writer Lemn Sissay, who grew up in care in the north of England in the 1970s and 80s, found out that he’d been forcefully removed from his mother (an Ethiopian woman studying in the UK at the time) by the state as a baby and they had refused to give him back to her when she asked them to. Sissay campaigned for a long time to get access to his records and was refused, but finally won a court case against the council and the book sees him putting down his reactions as he finally reads through his files. You get the (generally racist) commentary from the notes and then he fills in the gaps/gives the other side from his own memories as best he can. As a result of the format this isn’t his most poetic or literary work – it’s far more raw than that. It made me cry and it made me furious. So definitely worth a read.
Books I read with my eyes
I started reading Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga and read a couple of stories in How Long Til Black Future Month by N.K.Jemisin but I didn’t finish either of them. I’ve found it hard to focus on physical books lately, I think because my brain is always on alert for a bawling child / full of other things I should be doing. The feeling of reading (and writing) being a luxury I can’t justify has definitely been amplified by motherhood, although the data from the past 12 months seems to suggest that my feelings are just that!
Still, let’s not dismiss those feelings out of hand. Things have definitely shifted since I went back to work – see my getting through 12 books in my last month of mat leave, vs 1 book last month now things are settled. I’m increasingly finding that a huge pro of audiobooks is that can be doing something else while listening like dishes or DIY, so I feel less guilty. Listening is also proving easier because when I have a pair of headphones on I can retreat from the real world a bit faster and get immersed in the story. I’m far too tired to focus on something as weighty as a history book at bedtime these days, and I don’t have the luxury any more of being able to curl up in bed or a comfy chair to fully devote my brain to a good book at a time of day when I can concentrate. Oh lazy weekend mornings, I never truly appreciated you! But it’s all good because my child is often a ruddy delight first thing in the morning, and I get to read picture books aplenty. Shout out to my fellow Hairy Maclary aficionados!
See above, really. I haven’t sat down to write because I feel like I ought to be doing other things. But there are so many other things to do, and I’m so tired from broken sleep and work and childcare that by the time I’ve done the absolutely necessary ones to keep us all reasonably clean and well nourished, I tend to collapse in front of the telly. It feels a bit like excuse making at this point though. I have hopes that the new year will bring change.
Oh, and I did get two rejections in December! Which is a kind of writing progress…
December is always pretty full isn’t it. Mainly with eating too much. I went to several Christmas lunches (one with friends, two with work, one with family on the day itself). I got a mouth guard from the dentist because I now grind my teeth, and paid over the odds for an average haircut from a random woman because my hairdresser who I actually liked did a moonlit flit from the salon with no forwarding address. I spent a couple of days thinking I might be dying (I felt feverish, had an upset stomach, couldn’t eat – honestly is not a problem I ever have, the belly is strong with this one – and was so tired I had to crawl into bed at 8pm). But it turned out merely to be my periods returning after 23 months of pregnancy and breastfeeding. Appreciate that might be too much information for some readers, but frankly I regard it as a bit of PSA for any newish parents who have read this far. Nobody warned me and as I say, I briefly thought whilst wracked with stomach cramps at 3am that I might be dying.
Other than this I of course voted in the General Election (which was just super), went to the cinema on two separate occasions (Frozen II and Star Wars), bought a tiny Christmas tree, looked after an ailing child, had a lovely Christmas Day in Edinburgh and visited family in Perthshire for Hogmanay (when we discovered the bairn is absolutely mad for panettone, please keep out of reach). We also caught up on Series 2 of Star Trek Discovery (my review: absolute tosh but quite fun) and mostly enjoyed His Dark Materials (although the last episode felt a bit of a damp squidward to me).
2019 has gone incredibly fast for me, whilst simultaneously incorporating some of the slowest moments I’ve ever experienced. The passage of time as a new parent doesn’t remotely make sense. I’m sensible of the fact it’s not been a particularly amazing time for this blog either, but as mentioned last month we are gradually beginning to get into routines that might allow me to focus on writing more again. For Christmas my husband bought me a ticket to a workshop on ‘Cracking Your Creative Goals in 2020’ which is in a couple of weeks, and I bought myself tickets to another one on writing for children at the end of February, so these should help me get back into it.
My mum told me when the baby was teeny that she’d read an interview with an author who said that for her, every pram in the hall was a book she hadn’t written. I think there might be an element of that for me too. But I’d also like to think that the new experiences and perspectives I’m gaining will improve what I do write in the future. And if my brain remains a horrifying mush for the rest of my time on this mortal coil? Well then so be it. I’ll always be the idiot who wrote 12 books in 12 months.
I hope 2020 brings you joy. And maybe even some writing!