Let’s not sugar-coat it; January is the worst.
Christmas is over, and it’s a long stretch til Valentine’s Day, when I can give Mark a box of chocolate I bought in the discount section two days after Boxing Day for a quid and be showered with love in return (#thriftymama).
New Year’s Resolutions are coming into effect, and we’re all discovering that they’re actually pretty tough, and we set the bar too high again. I can’t go to the gym this week, I need to drink the wine I swore not to touch until summer. I can’t eat healthy today; I need the calories from this donut if I want to survive the stressful shopping spree with Mark’s credit card that I promised myself I wouldn’t do any more on New Year’s Eve.
On top of this, the weather is oppressive. The sky never seems to clear of low, grey cloud, the sun is just a bright patch, it’s bitterly cold, anything that isn’t frozen is soaked through. The grey is demoralising. It’s like living in The Road.
With all that said, you might be tempted to think that this hot momma is down on her luck this January, but you’d be wrong. Life has never been better in this grey, lightless, frozen hellscape.
For one, we’ve discovered that Mark’s job is a little more open-ended than we thought – since he’s with an agency in chemical surveying, we thought it was that or freelancing – but as it turns out, he can have his degree accredited and do a few “top-up” modules on the side, then advance to the role of “Executive Chemical Surveyor” with a potential pay increase of about 20%!
That’s a lot of wiggle room on his credit card!
Not just that, but on the side of writing this blog and looking after the bambineroonies, who are more of a handful now than ever, and the little doggie-do, I’ve been trying to write fiction, since this sort of flair doesn’t come around every day, and should be cherished when it does.
So, ever since before Christmas, I’ve been taking the time to sit and try to write something, every day. The trick is to just make the words come out, no matter their quality, no matter whether you feel they’ll sell or you think they’re worth publishing. Just make them come out, no matter what.
Spray your brain all over the paper, and stop well before you feel like stopping. Edit only after the story is DONE and don’t hold yourself accountable to the rules. The only person who can influence the story is YOU, you need to write what you think is true, and let your light shine. I could go on, but I’m out of writing platitudes. The importance, to sum up, is in writing bigly.
And I did! I wrote a little every day, and finished a few stories, like Pip Dreams, a story about a frustrated housewife who becomes a private detective and uncovers a massive conspiracy to defraud fad dieters, or Sola Antiquity, a story about a bored housewife who survives the apocalypse and helps rebuild society by becoming the queen of a tribe of hard-bodied young men. However, they weren’t the ones I was proudest of – no, that honour went to my pride and joy, Wham, Bam, Slam a Jam.
It’s a mouthful, I know (and that’s a direct quote from one of the characters!) but the best part about it isn’t its story (a bored housewife discovers a portal to another world in the washing machine and has to rise to the challenge to save a tribe of hard-bodied young men from the predations of a snake-people nation who all talk like my bitch neighbour Alexandria). The best bit about it is the way all the little things come together.
The actual prose style is much more conversational and accessible than the likes of Sola Antiquity, and the pacing drives things along really well. It’s got much better use of humour, threat and action to keep the plot moving, and much better characterisation than anything I’ve written before – and I’m not the only one who thinks that, because… (drum roll please)
It’s being published!
That’s right, yours truly, Jin Blogger, is going to be published in a short story anthology! The anthology’s by Fruit Loop Books and it’s called the Oil Cherry Anthology 3 – check it out! It’s out this summer, and if you use the discount code WHAMBAMSLAMJAMJIN you can get it in paperback for 50% off!
So despite the cold and the dark, despite Mark’s tonsilitis, and Tilly’s arm getting caught in the laundry press, despite the short days and the atrocious lack of funds, the post-christmas blues, the eight-day-hangover from New Year’s Eve, the Sophie thing, the cold and the dark, despite ALL THAT, it’s a big January.
I know it’s easy to get despirited in January. It’s the month with the highest reported incidences of depression, and the hotspot for seasonal affective disorder (largely because of the horrors inflicted by the weather and the long night/short day dichotomy, but undoubtedly also to do with the equinoxes and the fact that light drives out negative vibrational energy – no light, no “detox” of negativity during the day).
I’m as guilty of it as anyone, and I’m not exempt this year, by any stretch of the imagination. The long winter is getting to me. But we are moving forward anyway. When the dark closes in, and the snow piles up, that’s when you need to find the fire inside and push forward! For death or glory. For victory or Sovngarde. And that’s what we’re doing: January’s got nothing in its bag of tricks that can stand in the way of this hot mama. Sure it’s dark outside; but it’s plenty bright in here.
Mark’s going for the top spot with his Chemical Surveying, and my stories are finally getting good enough to publish. I’m a very happy Jin!
Also called Jin