I know that January 1, 2008, is a couple of days away still, but the new year always seems to me to kick in properly after Stephen's Day, because that's when I want to tidy the house and take the tree down and examine the presents I got and make resolutions to Be Better Next Year and so on.
Looking back at this year's blog entries, I see that I read only something like 20 books this year, and some of them I didn't even blog! (How ever will my four readers negotiate their local book emporia without my recommendations?) In 2008, I resolve to do better. Here are my firm resolutions for next year:
1. Get my week's work done in five days.
The success of all my other resolutions depends on this one. For too long I have spent hours in the middle of the day dossing about and accomplishing nothing at all beyond watching television, and not even good television. This is all fine and good for a couple of months, but it's nothing to base a long-term lifestyle on, so it must stop.
2. Read 50 books.
Last year's book-related resolution was based around purchasing. "Buy no more new books until you've read all the ones in the house," I believe it said. Many people, quite rightly, predicted the abject failure of this resolution, because obviously everybody with even a passing interest in the written word bloody well loves buying books, and I am no exception. Strangely, refusing to allow myself the relief of buying more books seemed to act as a barrier between me and my existing books, so that I came to resent them and chose to ignore them, instead of reading them, which is what I should have been doing. Now I will go back to the easier resolution of reading 50 books in the year. Also, I am introducing a sub-resolution, which is this:
2a. Donate three books a month to Oxfam.
Read or unread, three books a month are going into the shop. Which, of course, allows me to buy more books. Neat, I think.
3. Volunteer regularly at something again.
I spent a few Sundays in the fair trade shop coming up to Christmas, and it was pretty good. I'd like to do some regular volunteering again, if only to get me out of the house once a week. I notice that I also made this resolution last year, and spectacularly failed to keep it. I blame this on the fact that I had not been out of the voluntary sector long enough to miss it at that stage, whereas now I believe I can legitimately have a stab at it.
4. Write a new novel.
For the first time in about seven years, I was without a novel to work on in 2007. I must get a new one. Admittedly, novels for me are a bit like those endless knitting projects that some people engage in, which involve a massive tangle of wool and needles in the corner of a room, to be poked at only on occasion and never, ever finished, but they are satsifying to work on and fun to think about on long walks with the dogs. God, I hope they hurry up and finish the foot bridge so I can get away from the beach with its tedious other walkers and back into the fields where few other people go.
Um, that's it. There are, as usual, no self-improvement promises in here, no getting fit or learning a new language or being nicer to my fellow humans or anything. It's pointless to pretend that I would ever do any of those things. At least some of the resolutions I've outlined above have a vague chance of succeeding.