I couldn’t help but think as I sat peeling and prepping my famous brussel sprouts on Saturday afternoon: wasn’t I JUST doing this? I don’t just mean the sprouts but the whole thing, the entire falderal of shopping, cooking and guaranteed angst that Christmas entails. I had that (increasingly frequent) feeling that time is folding in on itself; wasn’t last Christmas just yesterday? Of course no, it wasn’t just yesterday, it was a year ago. I know this because of my beautiful almost-one-year old nephew crawling around in the tissue paper and the absence of my grandfather who passed away right after his 90th birthday last year. It wasn’t a day but a year’s worth of relentless change, joy, tears, romantic misadventures and countless hours of writing that have gone by since the last time we sat down to Christmas pudding. However much you try to resist feeling maudlin, it’s difficult to look around your Christmas dinner table without taking stock of your life as it is, was and will be in the year to come. It’s there plain as anything this time of year: the speed at which things change, the futility of trying to stop these changes or even slow them enough to catch your breath.
I spent most of Sunday in a post-holiday stupor, trying to restrain myself from eating the entirety of the leftovers and reading Look at Me by Jennifer Egan on my new toy. I did check email once, just in time to read a letter from an agent telling me that she didn’t think we would be a good fit based on the five pages that I sent her. Yes that’s right, five pages of a 375 page manuscript is what she asked me for. Now I know that agents all have their methods and I don’t begrudge them these but it did feel rather like going to meet someone for a blind date and having them take one look at you through the window of the restaurant and decide it could never work. I was reminded afresh how like dating trying to sell a book is when a friend recently remarked that looking for love entails doing the exact reverse of your instincts. ‘Usually,’ he said, ‘you only have to stick your finger in the light socket once before you know not to do it again; dating is the opposite of that, you get hurt but you just keep doing it until you get it right.’ This time last year I was promising myself that I’d be here again, a new novel in hand ready to get back in the game. Thank God that memory is such a masochist.
I’ll be here all week sharing some New Year’s angst, ill-fated resolutions and wild speculation about the future. Won’t you join me?