This Year I Will…Oh, Not Again!

I’ve made resolutions every year for a long time and now, sitting here in bed at lunchtime on a Saturday, I can’t actually recall one I’ve kept. Not long term. Not for real. That’s the problem with New Years Resolutions though, isn’t it? Just a group of people standing still as the clock strikes twelve, the first day of a new year, the first day of a new you. And we feel inspired (and probably drunk). We feel invigorated. We feel like we can do anything. Flash forward a few weeks and those 20 resolutions are pretty far from your mind. And the thing is, the father into the year you get the less realistic your goals seem. The less impetus you have to actually complete or continue or work towards or start. To think the start of a new year is it, this is the one, this time I will is just dangerous. And kinda deflating.

2018 had some glorious moments. I went on more holidays than I ever have in a year before. I worked hard and I spent pretty much everything on exploring new places and trying new things. I don’t regret any of it. I saw beautiful, brilliant places and everywhere I went I fell in love. I was selected to attend the Penguin Random House WriteNow 2018 conference in Nottingham. I wasn’t prepared for the emotions that would be elicited, the passion and inspiration I would feel afterwards. I wasn’t prepared for the confidence it instilled in me whenever I look at my own work now. I wasn’t selected as a winner by PRH. But in my head I think I’ve won, something at least. I won the chance to hear real life publishers and editors and agents say to me “your book sounds so good” and “that’s the kind of book I love pitching to publishers” and “your writing is so wonderfully atmospheric”. These are all direct quotes. I have remembered them. I have written them down and inscribed them on my brain, I have cradled them and hugged them and pressed them close to my chest in moments of self-doubt and loneliness and fear. They have comforted me and driven me and inspired me. They have taught me not to give up, to stand strong, to finish this book and every book after it and to send them into the world. It was the best day of my rather short life so far. I imagine it will be the best day of my life for quite some time to come.

2018 also had some harrowing moments. I have felt adrift for a long time now. I think I’m in a bad place, and I’ve now made peace with the fact that I need to do something about it. I want to both tether myself to safety and float off into the clouds. I want to live bigger and brighter and freer and at the same time it’d be great if I could just stop. Just for a while. Just long enough to free myself of the fog that has engulfed me for longer than I care to admit to, longer, I fear, than I can remember. If the world could stop spinning for a minute or hour or day or week. If I could just stand still and stop for a month or a year, would it make it better? Would I emerge from hibernation a free woman? Would I know who I am, what I want, what I need? Or would I have wasted precious time just lying in the fog?

This year I’m not making resolutions. Not in the tradition sense. I don’t want more goals that I will never achieve hanging over my head. Instead, I have chosen an aim for the year, just one, and a list of objectives that will help me reach it. My aim is to end 2019 in a better place than when I started. I know, I know. So much for not being too ambitious, huh? How will I do this? By hopefully having more self control and motivation to complete some of the objectives than I ever had to complete resolutions.

Objectives for 2019

  1. To figure out who I am. Let’s start with the biggie, amirite? I want to spend more time learning who I am and what I want, and improving the parts of me I want to improve. I want to blog more, maybe start journalling, write more, do more art. Express myself spiritually. Maybe do some yoga or something. I want to exercise more and care more about what I put into my body. I want to learn to care for myself more than I do now. It’ll be a long slog. I don’t expect to be perfect on the 31st of December. But I want to be better. I want to feel better.
  2. To explore the world outside my home. 2018 was a great year for travel and experiences. This year I want  to continue to broaden my horizons and see new things. And not just travelling abroad – I want to see more of Edinburgh, my city, and of Scotland and the UK. I want to go to more book talks. I want to join a book club and an am-dram society and maybe a writing club. I want to go on long walks and listen to music and podcasts and audiobooks. I want to take a book with me wherever I go, and sit in new cafes and new parks and read. I want to visit all the museums and bookshops and galleries I can find, and soak myself in art and culture and shows and freedom. And I want to travel. Everywhere. Anywhere.  To establish a little corner of the world just for me.
  3. I want to be happy (or at least happier) in a job/career sense. I want to find a place where I don’t feel sick whenever I’m at work. Maybe it doesn’t have to be a forever career. Not yet. I’m only 23. I have time. But I spend so much of my life at work. I want to be somewhere I can enjoy rather than tolerate, somewhere that doesn’t make me sick with stress and anxiety and crushing sadness.
  4. I want to write more. Sounds simple for a writer. But in a more specific sense, I aim to have the WIP I took to WriteNow 2018 finished and READY TO SUBMIT TO AGENTS/PUBLISHERS by the one year anniversary of that day. So September. I have 3/4 of a year. I can do this. I also want to start writing other things. Short stories, some screenplays, little drabbles about my characters, fanfiction, everything. And I want to enter some writing competitions. Hone my skills. Make some moneys. Show myself that a career as a writer might actually be possible (hah, when I’m like 60  and have a body of work as long as 20 buses maybe). If I enter my work into things I have a shot at being published before the year is out. If I don’t enter anything, I do not. It’s just that simple really, isn’t it?

 

I want to leave it there. I’m not going to overwhelm myself. And I’ll try not to beat myself up if it gets to the end of February and then March and then April and I’m still sad and stuck and struggling. It’s a process. It’s a long one. But by focusing on the one thing I want (to be happy) and the four general steps (okay, four general leaps) I can take to get there, maybe I’ll end this year in a bit of a better place. Even marginally. That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day. Whether you stick to resolutions or not, don’t get yourself down. All that matters is we’ve all survived another year, and fingers crossed when we look back we can still see some good for the bad.

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Book Review: The Escape Book by Ivan Tapia

The Escape Book, I Tapia

Source: Goodreads

I had a bit of a struggle rating this book if truth be told. I couldn’t decide on my final rating for a while just because I had very conflicting views on the book. On the one hand, it was a lot of fun to complete, and I did enjoy the puzzles and the general novelty of an escape room in book form. On the cover it says it’s the “first book based on the puzzle of escape rooms” and I’m excited that this is now a thing. On the other hand, the writing wasn’t the best and the content of the book tended to jerk you out of tension of the situation. Please keep reading for my review and, as always, I’ve added the review to Goodreads so please add me there.

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Book Review: Firebird by Elizabeth Wein

Firebird, E Wein

Source: Goodreads

So I’m back! And I’m reading again! To ease myself into the new year and the three (THREE?!?) reading challenges I’m attempting, I went with a new novella from one of my favourite authors, Elizabeth Wein. I’m a bit of a WW2…kick? Lately? I really enjoyed this book. I also left my review on Goodreads, and feel free to add me there! Keep reading for my review and please don’t forget to leave a comment with your thoughts on the book or recommending any other similar books/authors!  Continue reading “Book Review: Firebird by Elizabeth Wein”

So Resolutions, Huh?

Like I said in my new years resolutions post – you can find it here – I’m pretty bad at keeping on track. I thought I might have an easier time staying on the straight and narrow if I checked in with myself occasionally to see how things are going. This probably isn’t going to be a monthly thing, but I’ll try to check in regularly and see if it helps. Feel free to use the comments as your own checking in page! How are you getting along? Have you broken any resolutions? Changed any? Are you smashing through them like the gods/goddesses you are? Let’s chat in the comments, and spur each other on!

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BOOK REVIEW: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

eleanor and park Image is from the Goodreads page

I read Eleanor & Park on holiday while tucked up in bed (yes, I’m so old!) and I read it in a couple of sessions flat. I really enjoyed it, actually. It’s the first Rainbow Rowell book I’ve read, but a few friends have recommended one of her other books, Fangirl. Maybe I’ll read that next – I definitely want to read more Rowell! This is a review so it may contain some spoilers re overarching themes and the like, but I’ll try to keep it relatively major spoiler free. This book tackles the topics of domestical violence, alcohol abuse, childhood abuse (including implied sexual) and bullying. If you are sensitive to any of those topics, you may want to skip this one.

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We’ve Changed Our Name!

So this blog has been Secrets of the Student Life since its conception. And that name fit for a while. It fit when I was a broke student trying to make sense of the world. But now I’m a broke graduate trying to make sense of the world. A broke professional. A woman with a job that I go to every week, Monday to Friday. And, well, Secrets of the Student Life just doesn’t really fit anymore, does it? Because I’m not living the student life anymore.

SO. I’ve decided to change the name of the blog. I thought about for a while, what I want to convey with the name. Names are important. Names are cool and fun and I love them. So who do I want to be in this blog? Who do I want you to see? I settled on Blank Pages Vivid Dreams. I rather like the sound and the flow of it, it lilts nicely and when I say it the name rolls off my tongue. And it really embodies my life. I have vivid dreams both in and out of sleep, and blank pages are the basis of my life. They are the canvas on which I spill my words, the foundations of my life and world. And they go together nicely, don’t they? Pages and dreams. Who doesn’t talk about the most interesting dreams they have? I’ve had many weird and wacky ideas come to me in dreams, and it’s always a rush to write them down when I awake before they skitter off into the ether never to return.

I’m not really changing anything else. I’m still writing about the same things, and the URL will stay the same until I’ve figured out how to change it (or have the money to!). I’ve just changed the name on the front of the blog to better reflect me. And I’m pretty happy with it for now.

Good Food Recs: Treehouse Cafe, Edinburgh

So you guys know that I’ve lived in Edinburgh for going on 4 years now. In a city as big and diverse as this, there’s so many cool independent places to go and eat. Last week I had brunch at the Treehouse Cafe on Leven Street, Edinburgh. It’s up next to Bruntsfield Links, and it does REALLY GOOD PANCAKES.

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