Monday 2 January 2017

Welcome to the Year of the Valkyrie

I named 2016 the Year of the Phoenix, but the way world politics played out, it probably should have been the Year of the Bonnacon. Not just because they sprayed shit all over everything, but also because of their permanent look of anxiety. Behold:

If ever an imaginary animal exemplified a real year...

As you may know by now, I have habitually named the year after a mythological animal since 2013. 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. 

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. 

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. 

2016 was the Year of the Phoenix. It was about moving forward, writing the kind of stories that I love and finding new things to be happy about and grateful for. That's...that's been tricky at times. On a global level, 2016 was awful. On a personal level, we lost Fergus and Remic, losses I think we'll feel for a really long time still.

But come the end of the year, on a personal level, there are reasons for me to be happy and grateful. I have written stories I love and seen them published. I won an award! Common Brimstone has been so busy that I have to keep shutting it down. I have visited new countries with people I love. There have been bright moments, and they are worth cherishing and fighting for.

2017 is going to be...a year. In the UK, Article 50 will be triggered, beginning our exit from the EU. I remain staunchly pro-EU, so this disheartens and scares me. In the USA, Donald Trump will take office. I am scared and saddened for my American friends, for PoC and minorities all across America. Across the world, horrible situations already happening will keep happening, from torture to refugee crises, to civil wars, to oppression...It's easy to feel like there's just too much horrible stuff happening, that we can't make a difference, and that maybe we should just stick to our little corner of the world and worry about that.

And some days, you should do that. Self-care is important and vital, and you deserve to protect your mental health. But, darlings, not every day. Some days, you gotta get out there and fight. Fight for what you love and believe in, fight for people who can't fight for themselves, fight for your friends and yourself. And that's why 2017 is going to be the Year of the Valkyrie.

I don't know about you, but I need that warrior spirit going forward. I need to remind myself that I have a voice, and that I'm in a privileged position where I can speak out and speak up. Not all of my friends can do that. As an ally to those people, I have a responsibility to listen, to try to learn, and to push back against threats. As a pro-Remain Brit, I have a duty to speak out against the uneducated, misinformed politics that are shaping my country. As a human being, I have an obligation to act with passion, compassion, and kindness wherever and whenever I can... and to take no shit from those won't fulfill that obligation themselves. I want to be a warrior in whatever way I can, and I can't think of a better totem for that going forward than the valkyrie.

I am carrying forward two quotes with me into the New Year. One to remind me of the need for kindness:

And one to remind me of the need to fight:

I resolve to be kind. And I resolve to take no shit. Happy New Year!

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