As is now my tradition, I have named the year after a mythological animal. For me, this has become a way of shaping my attitudes and aims for the year ahead.
I started doing this in 2013 (the Year of the Unicorn), because I was in really bad shape mentally, and I needed some magic. Can't think of anything more magical than a unicorn. In that year I opened my perfume shop, Common Brimstone, discovering a new and vital creative outlet for myself. And if you want magic, honestly, there aren't many things more magical I can think of than creating perfumes. It's pure alchemy.
2014 was the Year of the Kraken. I'd lost my confidence in my writing career and abilities over the previous couple of years, and in 2014 I wanted to get it back. It was a year of going balls-to-the-wall, not necessarily to get published, but just to get going again. Remembering that, yeah, this is what I do and I can do it well.
2015 was the Year of the Basilisk. It was about conquering my enemies - in this case, lingering self-doubt and anxiety about myself and my choices. And it was a great year. I got a promotion in my day job. Common Brimstone exceeded my wildest expectations. I signed eight publishing contracts, was in an award-winning anthology, and won my second Evernight Readers' Choice Award. I launched Amber Morgan as a way of stretching my wings and trying out new genres to write in. And Amber is doing pretty nicely.
It wasn't all plain-sailing, but overall, the Year of the Basilisk helped me do exactly what I wanted to do. So now we're in 2016 and it's the Year of the Phoenix, as chosen by my friend and fellow author, Olivia R Burton. I have to say, the phoenix has always been my favourite mythological creature. The idea of this beautiful, magical bird rising from its own ashes has always resonated with me. It's a story about reinvention, rebirth, rebuilding. It's about sweeping away the stuff you don't need and building a new nest for yourself.
I thought a lot about how this might translate for me going into the new year. I think I did the rebirth and rebuilding over the past three years, and what I really want to do this year is just...keep moving forward. Keep writing stories that I love. Keep making perfumes. Keep finding new things to be happy about and grateful for. There are some bad habits to get rid of, and some good habits to instill in myself. Maybe some old habits to bring back. But mostly, it's just going to be about forging ahead. Burning brightly, without burning out.
I hope whatever 2016 brings for you, it's everything you need it to be! Happy New Year!