New Year’s Resolutions from our Pushkin Children’s Authors
Posted 2nd January 2021
With such an unconventional year as 2020, it might feel a little odd to be writing New Year’s Resolutions. However, as the blank page of 2021 lies ahead of us, we think a reset would do us all good.
So, naturally, we turned to the most inspirational, optimistic, glittering people we know – our Pushkin Children’s authors! Here’s what they had to say when we asked about their hopes and dreams for 2021.
Author of The Tunnels Below
For me the New Year is as much about endings as it is about beginnings. Reflecting on the events of the past twelve months and seeing what I have learnt that I can take with me in to the New Year before letting go of the parts which no longer serve me.
So, my New Year’s resolutions are simple. The first one is something I’ve done every year as long as I can remember: to write myself a list of twelve things I would like to do in the year ahead. My second resolution is to make a change in my life or to help make the world a better place. Last year it was to stop leaving the tap running while I brush my teeth. This year it is to try and grow some vegetables that I can eat from my garden. New Year’s Resolutions need not be about giving something up, instead they can be about enhancing our experience of life and the world around us. And so I have decided in the words of J.R.R Tolkien that, ‘It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life,’ and each year I hope to move closer and closer to this idea!
My writing resolution for 2021 is to write my next middle-grade book. For my last book, The Three Impossibles, I set myself the task of writing a more action-based, adventurous, high-stakes story. Next year I’m setting the goal of writing with a sense of place and atmosphere, and of hopefully creating a complex, layered villain.
In other life, lockdown definitively showed me how important space is (I live in a one bedroom flat with no outside space), so I hope to find a lovely new place to move to – no idea where yet! – with a garden. I’d also like to gradually replace ‘virtual’ living with ‘a life made by hand’: I spend far too much time hunched over a laptop!
As for reading, I don’t read when I’m writing, for fear of picking up another writer’s tone – which means that in 2021 my ‘to read’ pile will likely grow into a mountain…
Ayesha Harruna Attah
Author of The Deep Blue Between
What a strange year 2020 has been. Everyone in the world in some way or form has faced immense loss and upheaval. Facing uncertainty, it feels almost foolish to make New Year’s Resolutions, and if 2020 has taught me anything, it is that we truly cannot predict tomorrow.
That said, one can still try!
I have started a book club for teens in my village, and I am hoping to start a library project for younger children. I would also like to build a co-working space. In 2021, I want to begin laying ground for all these projects, while surrounded by family, laughter, good health, and, as always, great stories.
Author of Bearmouth
I have to confess, I’m not a great believer in New Year’s resolutions – I always think there’s no time like the present to change a habit or start doing things differently. And yet, each time it comes around, I can’t help myself from wondering, albeit briefly, what I might do differently for the next four seasons. I know of writer friends who scribble down their dreams for the next year on a piece of paper, save it in an envelope and then reopen it the next New Year’s Eve before ceremonially burning it, watching the ashes drift away into the night sky. I love that idea and were I less accident prone and thus less fearful of the very real risk of setting myself on fire, I might even give it a go. Instead, I’ll inevitably make myself the usual promises: go jogging more regularly; open myself up to new ideas and experiences; learn a new skill; be kind to myself, and – come January the 5th, also inevitably, I’ll have forgotten all about them. The ukulele will lay silent in the corner of the room for another year…
Over the years, I’ve learned that you need to create and follow your own path. For stories, I like plotting, but for life, well, I quite like making it up as I go. Live in the moment, don’t plan too far ahead, do your best and above all, don’t be hard on yourself. That’s my recipe for happiness. So if you really want to set yourself some goals for next year, then go for it, but I won’t be joining you around the campfire, not even in a fireproof suit.
I have never made a New Year’s resolution. But for some friends it’s a seasonal ritual like any other. They are serious about their promises and stick to them. Maybe achieving things because of the pressure, not despite it. Their resolutions seem to have something in common. The goals are achievable.
I began to see parallels with writing. It’s tempting to believe that once in the writing groove, a novel will flow seamlessly, and quickly. If it doesn’t, you’ve somehow failed. But how to avoid that trap? Completing a manuscript is (for many), a marathon not a sprint. Along the route, are characters who go running off in the wrong direction, plots which leave obstacles in your path, national lockdowns. The latter arrived when I was halfway through my third novel. On the first day, there was an air of quiet panic. Life had changed drastically for everyone. In writing terms, I wasn’t going to get much time. I did some sums. I couldn’t keep my wordcount up, but I couldn’t just hope for the best – that’s when the panic crept back. Instead, I set myself an achievable wordcount, and stuck to it. Absolutely. I finished my novel around the time lockdown ended.
This year, my first ever New Year’s resolution will be to remember what I was forced to learn during lockdown. Extravagant goals can fill you with hope at the outset, but achievable goals fill you with hope in the end.
You can find all these magnificent authors’ books below!