Friday, January 10, 2020

2020 Vision

By Abir

What are your New Year’s resolutions? 

Right then. Here we are. 2020 and all that. I remember looking forward to the millennium. That was twenty years ago now. The last two decades have gone by stupidly fast. Granted I was probably asleep for fifty per cent of the intervening period but still, no one told me 2020 was going to turn up like a guest who’s three hours early for a party. It didn’t even bring a bottle of wine.

Right, so, resolutions

I have a confession. I love ‘em. Absolutely adore them.

To me the New Year and the resolutions that go with it, are the chronological ‘reset’ switch that offers me the chance to be less lazy, less unhealthy, more organised, less useless and generally live my life as less of a bum and more in the fashion that I should have done in 2019…and 2018… and, well you get the idea.

Yes, I know. Yes…I did say that last year, yes, and the year before and… just hear me out. This year is going to be different. Yes. Yes it will. It’s a new decade after all. New Decade, New Mukherjee. That’s going to be my slogan (at least for most of January).

‘So’, you’re probably not asking. ‘What’s on the list of resolutions, Mukherjee?’

Well here you go.

Resolution Number 1: Health
“Health is Wealth” my old dad used to say. But then he died. Still he made it to the ripe old age of 89, which is a damn good innings for a man born in Calcutta in the 1920s where the average life expectancy was slightly behind that of a Mayfly. 

Taking care of your health is just one of the many lessons he imparted to me and of which I’ve done very little about, especially since becoming a writer. In the old days, I’d go to work and try to fit in the gym two or three mornings or evenings a week. Then I started writing and most of my gym time was sacrificed to sitting in front of a lap top typing bad sentences which need very heavy editing. In the process, I have developed what is commonly known as Crime Writer’s Ass, and no, I’m not going to illustrate it with a photo.

By now, knowing me as you do, it’ll come as no surprise to learn that during this period of physical regression, I kept my gym membership. I kept paying £112 per month for a facility I used on average twice a year. In my defence, I would say that it is a really beautiful gym (they even filmed a scene from the James Bond film, Skyfall in there), and that most of my plot ideas were formed in the sauna or the jacuzzis in that gym. Still. In a seminal moment of taking control of my finances,

I finally cancelled my membership last July. But that left me with the issue of how to pretend to get fit now. Well, as usual, watching TV provided me with the answer, namely the FITT Cube! The FITT Cube (with two, count ‘em, TWO ‘T’s) is a revolutionary fitness device combining over a hundred different exercises into a box (or “cube”) which you can store beneath your desk or, as I do, next to the fridge. 

The people in the advert looked super handsome and toned, so I decided to purchase one. It cost the same as one month’s gym membership, so I’m actually saving money. I’ve used it three times since the new year and bits of my body are close to falling off. I shall nevertheless persevere at least till February when I shall forget all about it, but for now I feel much fitttter already.

Resolution Number Two: Work
This is the year I resolve to become a full time writer. I resolved that last year too, but it never really happened. Over the last few years, I have been cutting back on my non-writing workload. I decided to go part-time about three years back. When I told my colleagues of my decision, they replied, “We thought you went part time years ago…” I will kill them all in a novel one day.

But this year, I intend to do it, to stop the day-job completely…or at least I did till yesterday when I agreed to do some work for a client. That’s the thing about being a writer. Even if you’re lucky enough to have a publishing contact, it can be months or years before you see much cash and it’s very hard to say ‘no’ to someone offering you money in the meantime.

Resolution Number Three: Family
I am not going to spend my weekends writing. I am going to devote that time to my wife and kids. That’ll probably mean I miss my deadlines to an even greater extent than I already do, but out of everything, this one’s the most important. For the last five years, I’ve spent a significant amount of time at weekends stuck in libraries or in my room, while my wife has raised our kids. It’s been tough on her, and it makes me feel guilty. So this year, and for the years going forward, my weekend will be free of writing (other than maybe that last-month mad-dash before my publishers threaten to sue me for breach of contract).

Resolution Number Four: Writing
I’ve been lucky. Really lucky. Five years ago, I hadn’t had a single thing published. Now I have four novels, with a fifth in progress. They’ve all featured my detectives Sam Wyndham and Surendranath ‘Surrender-not’ Banerjee, and while I love writing them, I’d like to write something different, something contemporary, as well. So in 2020, once I’ve finished book five in the series, I’m going to try my hand at something very different. I’m going to go from 1920s India to present day USA. I’ve got an idea for a novel, though I might need to visit America for a few months of research – so if anyone’s got a spare couch I could crash on, do let me know! Then I just need to write it and hope someone publishes it.

So that’s it. Sensible resolutions for a better me. I’m going to get fit, spend more time with those I love, try to give up non-writing work, and write the quintessential American novel. And if that fails, I’ll just become the world’s unfittest FITT cube instructor.

1 comment:

Susan C Shea said...

Your resolutions are far too sensible, Abir, and actually achievable. I thought new year's resolutions were meant to be fantasies. Mine seem to be.