31 December 2016

Newsletter: Goodbye 2016, who could hang a name on you?

Just sent this out as my newsletter, but decided to cross post for once, because a year-ender is a year ender. You can subscribe to my newsletter The Internet Personified here.

Dear friends,

I imagine you all in various stages of preparation across the globe. Some of you are just waking up, others, in my timezone, are planning to valiantly fight New Year's Eve pressure and stay in with a good TV show and hot chocolate. Some of you are somewhere far and warm, and you're probably not even going to read this until it's 2017 already and you're back home and you're looking up at grey skies or blue with speckles of cloud, in the midst of traffic and you're wondering, "Now what?"

Now what is a thought many of us have on January 1st, even if you want to believe that the whole "counting down to midnight" is not really a thing, that it's just another day, that drinking on the night of is for amateurs, it's natural to want a whole new year, a whole new date to begin afresh. It's also somewhat tempting to think all new things will happen: now that 2016 is over, none of our beloved celebrities will die/politics will turn out to be less of the massive clusterfucks we've been experiencing/we'll lose weight/exercise more/travel more/quit smoking/finally do That Thing that we've been waiting to do. But ultimately, we're still the same ol' us. Is that depressing? Not really. The strength to change is within all of us all the time and if you want that change to happen in January, then by hell, go out and get it. 




Here are two of the things I wrote on New Year's Eve: more feminist resolutions for the coming year, and how to deal with Social Menopause, and resist social pressure to "go out and do something."

How was 2016? For me, it was a time of things FINALLY COMING TOGETHER.

* The home we had been working on all of 2015 was completed and we moved in in March. For the first time ever, there was an entire flat designed just for us. From the floor tiles to the particularities of the bathroom, to the kitchen we can leave open when we have parties or close against curious cats to a massive terrace that more often than not became our refuge. Plus all my books had a home in a writer's room out of a storybook: Jane Austen green walls, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, a massive desk, lots of light--I got a lot of work done there. Just when we thought we'd never want to leave Delhi again, we went off to Goa for a month, having promised a friend that we'd dog-sit while she was abroad. And we said--driving down green roads, eating our daily fish thaalis--how nice if this was our life too, and for the first time ever, we made it happen. So now I have not one but two beloved homes, and we're making it work, as unbelievable as it seems.

* I wrote a LOT in 2016 and for a while it seemed like I was just writing into the ether with nothing really happening. I won no big literary prizes, I wasn't making as much money as I wanted to, but (another first!) for the first time in my ten year freelance career I was not just breaking even, I was actually making a little money, and this made me feel like it was finally worth it--all those days of being broke next to rich friends, of choosing the cheaper option, of skimping and pinching, and putting off till I got more money--it had turned into something concrete--a career, not just living on a pipe dream and parental handouts. I also signed three books with Harper Collins this year, and while I'm not happy about my editor and friend leaving the publishing house, I did manage to finish another book, the first in a series retelling the Mahabharata. I'm hugely excited about this as it's the first time I've attempted this kind of writing, a genre-shift for me, and the first of the Girls of the Mahabharata: The One Who Swum With The Fishes, Satyavati's story, will be out summer of next year.

* In all this, I also got asked if I wanted to write a web series. YES, I said, and then YES YES YES again, because I am greedy and also arrogant enough to believe I can do anything. The web series got bigger and bigger, and now Amazon has signed it up to be a long series to run on their Prime Video section. This is HUGELY challenging and also very new and hardworkhardworkhardwork for me, since I've never done anything like this before. Which is excellent, because I was getting sort of glib about my writing as you are with something you have practiced for so long it's practically second nature. It's a bit of an uphill climb for me, but luckily, everyone I'm working with has been super nice, so I'm hoping I'll emerge at the other end as a stronger, better writer. 

* Foolishly (and with the same arrogance), in January of last year, I signed on to the Goodreads reading challenge, putting my goal as 500 books, which as all of you know would mean I'd have to read more than one book a day to even get CLOSE. I realised my folly and pushed it down to 200, which was still a push and a half. After a lot of junk reading filled my summer months, and then a lot of re-reading which I didn't even document, thinking of it as cheating, I finally managed to reach my goal today. I loved a lot of them, which is saying something. Here's the link to all the books I read this year. Next year, I'm picking a manageable number like 150 or something.

I feel oddly guilty about liking 2016 so much when I know so many of you didn't. And really, that all boils down to the fact that this was a year just for me. It was a year of inward thinking and not looking at the outside so much. It was a year of coming to terms with the introverted stuff that's important to me: homes, books, writing, and making space for those things within my life. I had great times with my friends, I had great times with my family, and with my partner, and our cats, but ultimately, 2016 was the Selfish Year, the year when I examined the questions of who am I and where am I going a lot more than I did any other year so far.

I hope 2017 is full of new excellent experiences for all of us. 


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