Category Archives: Uncategorized

Flash Fiction: Cold, Blinding Light

Thanks to Rachelle O’Neill for organising this flash fiction challenge! Sorry I am late in posting my story. Thanks as well to Athelas Hale for giving me my prompt: as instructed, I will write a story inspired by the visual below.

we_need____no__i_need_you__by_vyrhelle-d4jt463

Flashes of light. Cold, blinding light. It explodes around me. Shoves its way through my scrunched up eyelashes. Fills me with numb terror.

Where am I, that this light is assaulting me? My brain throbs and my body aches, but I don’t know why I am here. How did I come to be at the light’s mercy, shelterless and alone?

I stretch out my hands: my knuckles rub against a hard, cold surface. The same surface juts into my spine; it protrudes against my shoulder-blades and skull. I lie on the surface, exposed. I feel naked — I am at the light’s mercy. It pummels me in its fury; it thunders and it roars. There is nothing to come between us, to shelter me from it.

A hazy image emerges in my throbbing brain. A distant memory? I am in a fire-fight. I am shooting against a horde of enemies, outnumbered and outgunned. But in the midst of it all, beside me is a friend. Together, we fire at them. Together, we have shelter.

The image fades. I am not in a fire-fight. I have no friend with whom I can find shelter. I am alone, exposed, facing the angry light.

*

There is a gap in the light. Relief floods me. Is this the end? But as my terror lulls, I become aware of the wetness. Wetness on the cold, hard surface — the ground. Wetness in my hair as it lies limp across my face. Drops of cold wetness falling on my nose and lips. I turn, and lay my cheek against the cold, hard, wet ground.

The light explodes again, as suddenly as it ceased. This time, it allies with the wetness. The sodden ground explodes too, echoing the great light.

I begin to tremble. I shiver uncontrollably. How can I remain here? How can I survive against the light and the wet? I need a shelter. Something to come between me and the light’s fury.

Then I sense it: a warm, dark shape. Can it be real, or is it a good dream?

The shape moves slowly over me. Slowly, it blots out the scorching light. Slowly, it makes the thundering of the light cease.

What is the shape? It seems like a friend. It exudes warmth, and shelter and darkness. The shape plays about my cheeks like warm breath. It seems to shield me from the cold drops of wetness falling on my face.

I try to reach for the shape, but my hands are leaden. I groan in despair. But then, suddenly, there is gentle pressure on my wrists. Is the shape bearing down on them. Is this shape a physical thing? Could it be a person — an actual friend?

Words seem to float from the shape. They waft down toward me.

“We need you,” breathes the shape. “I need you.”

A drop falls on my lips. But it is not a cold drop — it is warm, and tastes dark. It tastes salty. It must be a drop from the shape.

How strange that the shape should say that it needs me. For clearly, I am the one who needs the shape. I need its warmth and its protection. I need its darkness and its friendship. I don’t know where I am, but with the shape there, it doesn’t matter. I am no longer entirely at the mercy of the light.

The warm, dark shape is my defence — my shelter. My shelter from the cold, blinding light.

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In which Leinad graduates from high school

On Tuesday, Leinad walked into a large, brick church building and sat down on an old sofa in the foyer. He waited around for a while, glancing briefly over a sheet of paper with some scribbled facts about Mexico City’s pollution and crown-of-thorns starfish, before standing up to chat nervously with a young man in a bow-tie. Presently, an elderly man entered the foyer and ushered the two young men into the large church hall, which was filled with desks — all empty, except for two which had booklets reading “2014 HSC Geography Exam” lying on them.

The two young men sat, nervously emptied their pencil-cases as the old man intoned the malpractice warning, and then tensed, ready to begin.

Three hours and five minutes later, having filled in 20 multiple choice bubbles, answered four sets of short-answer questions, and written eleven pages worth of essays, Leinad straightened up. As he walked out of the church hall into the bright, spring day, he was filled with one sublime thought: he was done with school forever. The only thing preventing him from skipping down the street was his backpack, filled to bursting with books to be returned to school.

******

I have, of course, been very busy with study and exams — and more study, and more exams — for quite some time. Two years ago, I quit homeschooling and started studying in the public school system by a distance. Though I was fortunate to have excellent teachers and classmates, and I learnt a lot of things, the sharp increase in workload kept me from regular blogging and recreational fiction-writing for quite some time.

But now it is over! After a hectic three and a half weeks, in which I sat 18 hours worth of exams (and wrote about 86 pages of essays, 18 pages of short answers, 20 pages of Maths working, and filled in 57 multiple choice bubbles), I am free. Just in time to catch the second half of NaNo WriMo!

As I write this post, I am on the plane home from my exams (I had to travel a fair way to sit them). Earlier in the flight, I began my NaNo Novel. It’s the first novel I’m writing since 2011, and I daresay my skills in writing long fiction have grown rusty (if I ever had them), but I am eagerly taking on the challenge. My hope is that by the time I start University in mid-February, I will have written and polished my first ever high-quality novel.

But I won’t bore you by blathering on about my life. I’m writing this because I’m so relieved and happy to done with school (and because I can’t seem to sleep on this flight). But you shouldn’t be relieved and happy. Your NaNo Novel is calling you. You should be writing.

A Short Announcement

This is a very short post to inform you that the estimable Liam Wood has just given me a guest post on his blog, This Page Intentionally Left Blank. Feel free to spend your day how you wish, but I would suggest the following: (1) head over and read my post in Liam’s blog (2) comment on my post (3) stick around on Liam’s blog a while longer and read and comment on lots of posts because Liam and his blog are awesome.

Cheerio.

Free weight-loss tips at discount price

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Note: I am NOT making fun of overweight people here, I’m lightly making fun of weight-loss programs — but mainly just  having a good time. I hope you are too.

An apology, an excuse, and a proposal

Hello,

I am sorry for abandoning you all. Indeed, I have been absent so long that you probably assumed my blog was dead, and had become yet another fallen tree in the forest which is WordPress. Actually, the tree was only hibernating. It lost all its leaves, certainly, but it was not completely dead. Now Spring has come (I hope) and perhaps the tree will gain some leaves again. Either that or (which may be more likely) I will post once or twice in the next week and then we’ll have another long winter.

I have given my apology, and now I must give my excuses. (For, you must know, I don’t really want you to forgive me — all I really want to do is to prove to you, by whatever flawed means, that I was not actually in the wrong.) This last nine months have been the busiest of my life. “Back to Cambodia,” I thought a year ago, “back to where I will have time to read and to blog and to design board-games, and to run as much as I do already”. Not so. I began distance education in January, and I realised then that I had previously been taking life easy. Since then I have had little time for pleasureful pursuits, and since I am clearly not made of the same stuff as Miriam Joy or John Hansen or other teenage writers I could mention (who manage to go to school and do extracurricular activities and write novels and blog) my spare time has been taken up with less mentally engaging activities and my blog has languished.

However I want to begin using my blog again. I believe this is more realistic than it would have been six months ago for two main reasons.

Firstly, I discovered during exam week in late September, that one does not really need hours and hours in order to write something worthwhile. Even if you don’t spend ages thinking of everything you want to write, nicely arranging it in order, and then following your outline closely as you write, you may still be able to write something which is of value to yourself and to others. By spending less time on each blog-post, using the same amount of time, I will be able to write more blog-posts! (isn’t maths wonderful?)

Secondly, I have discovered markdown. I often have a lot of trouble connecting to WordPress sites, which sucks. Often I want to write a post, but discover that WordPress won’t load so I can’t go and write it. Now I will do all my blog-writing in some plain-text application in markdown whenever I feel like it and just publish it when I happen to be able to access WordPress for a sufficient length of time.

In terms of what I will write: I can’t say I know for certain. But since the blogging community I feel somewhat connected to is a teenage writing community, I will probably post some book reviews, some ideas I have related to novels and writing, some short-stories, and then a bit of whatever other ideas my meandering mind thinks should exist here. Right at the moment I am thinking of writing some posts on saving time (or wasting, it depending on your preference — simply do the opposite of what I suggest), as much for my benefit as for yours.

And that is all. May the doom of Mandos be ever in your favour.

Leinad

This is not a posthumous award

Hi everyone. Apologies if you thought I was dead: I know that I have not blogged in an very long time (it must be pushing two months by now). Neither am I an impostor taking the place of Leinad (or Keras the Unknown, we are one and the same). I am alive and well, I have merely been rather busy for the past two months, and since I am not as industrious as some people, the result has been a temporary absence from the blogosphere. Ironically my first post in such a long time is during the SIL conference, one of the busiest (and most fun) weeks of the year for me. Today I am here to accept the Liebster Award from my fellow MK, Kittipurrik, whose wonderful blog you can find by following this link. Thanks Kittipurrik!

Since I have only 63% of the computer’s battery with which to finish this post, let’s be brief. As with all of these most legalistic awards, this one has many rules. Nominees must:

– post eleven facts about themselves
– answer the eleven questions they’ve been asked
– nominate eleven other blogs and ask them eleven questions of their own.
– display the Liebster award.

Here are some facts about me:

1. I am a male.

2. I am 15 years old.

3. I’m never quite sure whether I am more of an english person or a maths person.

4. Three months ago, when I was blogging fairly often, I thought I was more of an english person.

5. One month ago, when I was getting good marks in maths but struggling with essays, I thought I was an maths person.

6. Now, having done quite badly in a maths exam (I do school by distance education now, so I have exams, alas…) and having started to get the hang of the essays, I am beginning to think I’m an english person again.

7. I plan to do Camp NaNo this month.

8. I have not started writing my novel yet, I am saving it for when I am on holidays for two weeks, starting on the 12th.

9. I have three younger sisters.

10. I do not have any brothers.

11. Until 13 months ago I was the only male grandchild for both sets of grandparents.

And now the 11 questions asked of me by Kittipurrik:

1. What are your feelings on cats?

Unlike Kittipurrik, I do not claim to be a cat, but I regard the domestic cat as a desirable pet —unlike the domestic dog (forgive me, dog-lovers, but it is a fact of life that runners and dogs do not get along). Wild cats are very interesting creatures too.

2. What is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen in a dream?

I’m afraid I cannot say…. I dreamt about Yaklaom lake once, and that is a beautiful thing in real life, so perhaps it would count.

3. What are you most proud of teaching yourself?

Most recently, juggling. One of my sisters made me three hacky-sacks for Christmas and I spent the next week teaching my very uncoordinated self to juggle. It is a fun skill to have.

4. What would you most like to learn about?

This is another difficult question because I want to learn about so many things that it is very difficult to narrow them down. A few things which I dearly want to learn about include: how to speak Khmer; Australian history; Cambodian history; and the geography of Myanmar, knowledge of which I am sadly lacking.

5. If you grew up isolated on an island, what do you think you would be like?

Even more quiet than I am already; lacking in world-perspective; rather less lacking in survival skills.

6. What qualities do you hope your offspring will have the most of?

Peacefulness; diligence; humility.

7. Do you like snow?

I do very much like snow, although I have only seen it three or four times in my life. Nevertheless I do not believe I would wish to live in a place which has a lot of snow, because I do not like long periods of very cold weather.

8. What would you change about the world if you could do so in the blink of an eye?

I don’t know… get rid of sin?

9. What would you keep the same?

Hills and mountains.

10. What is the best reaction to anything you’ve ever gotten out of something?

I don’t really know.

11. Does this eleven bother you much?

Not really. Prime numbers are cool, and eleven is no exception.

And now, with my 52% battery, I must think of 11 questions to ask my nominees.

1. Do you prefer hills, or flats?

2. Do you prefer forests, or grasslands?

3. What are your thoughts on trigonometry?

4. What are your thoughts on grammar?

5. Which do you like best: running, swimming or cycling?

6. Which of the three do you like least?

7. Have you ever been on an aeroplane?

8. Have you ever been out of your home country?

9. What is your ideal climate?

10. How important is climate to your comfort?

11. Does this eleven bother you much?

I am only going to nominate two bloggers today (yes I know, I am breaking the rules, tough). If I follow you, but I have not nominated you, that does not mean I don’t like your blog — it means that I doubt if you would be interested in an award like this.

The two nominees are:

Nevillegirl, at Musings from Neville’s Navel.

Miriam Joy, at Miriam Joy Writes.

Well, that’s all and I still have 39% battery. Nevertheless I need to use it to check for typos and notify my nominees. See you again, hopefully, in less than two months this time.

*Note: the internet cut off just before I could publish this, but after I notified Nevillegirl and Miriam. If you are Miriam or Nevillegirl and you came to find this but did not — apologies.

St Mallory’s Forever! — A (fairly spoiler-free) Review

I don’t expect I’ll ever be a published author: I enjoy writing, but I don’t take it quite that seriously — I just write stories for fun. But I love to hear about fellow teenagers getting published. As soon as St Mallory’s Forever! came out, I rushed out (or rather, turned on my Kindle) and bought the book. I was not disappointed. Christopher Paolini is the only other teen-author whose published books I’ve read, but while it is very difficult to compare St. Mallory’s Forever! with the Inheritance Cycle, given that they are such different genres, Charley Robson and Miriam Joy join Paolini as inspiring teens.

St. Mallory’s Forever! is written by Charley Robson (17 years old), Miriam Joy (16 years old?) and Saffina Desforges (Who I’m not too sure about — I think she is actually a partnership: two people. And I don’t think either of them are teenagers.). It strikes me as incredible that a novel could be co-authored. I mean, a biography, maybe, but in a novel surely everyone would have different ideas as to where the story should go? Nevertheless, the plot was remarkably coherent and differences in writing style were managed by the fact that the story alternates between the points of view different people. Here is a fairly spoiler-free summary of the story:

It’s the start of a new term at St. Mallory’s, a boarding school where rather posh families send their girls to be educated. Abbie and Teresa are returning, and there will be two new students in their grade this year — whose names are rumoured to be Helen and Zoo-Anne. After a few relational mishaps, Helen and Zoo-Anne (whose name turns out to be Xuan — pronounced “shin”) become good friends with Abbie and Teresa. At first it seems like it’s going to be a fairly normal school-term: studying hard on weekdays and shopping in Brighton on weekends (and hopefully avoiding the nudist beach). But after some strange events — which include a bursar gawking at Helen’s teacher mother during classes, and a music piece dated after its composer died — it becomes clear that a mystery is underfoot…

So there we have it: a classic boarding-school novel. If you’ve read Enid Blyton it might put you in mind of Malory Towers or St Clare’s. (Or it might not. I’ve read Enid Blyton, and I’d never heard of either series until two weeks ago. She’s only the most prolific British author in history.) But while in many ways it’s a classic boarding-school novel, this book differs from others of its genre in that it is thoroughly modern. It is (I believe) a very accurate depiction of a 21st century boarding school, perhaps minus the mystery. And the story is told in blog-posts.

This gives a whole new twist to the old journal-style novel genre — and not just because the entries have a special name. For one thing, blog-posts are written to be entertaining. (and let me tell you: Abbie, Helen and Xuan are a lot more entertaining than me) Journal entries can get dry and boring, but these blog-posts are delightfully funny and interactive with the reader. For another thing, a journal entry usually happens once a day, but a blog-post happens every time something interesting happens.

Another thing that was interesting about reading such a modern novel is that I understood most of the references. Rather than references to ancient bands or ancient politicians or Walter Cronkite, this has references to people like Usain Bolt and Harry Potter, products like iPads, and places like Heathrow airport. Even the older references are to things like The Lord of the Rings and Pride and Prejudice that I know about. I guess these must be past things that the current generation thinks are important, rather than past things that past generations thought were important.

St Mallory’s Forever! is a mystery novel, so naturally I should discuss what I thought of the mystery element. It seemed to take a while for the mystery to kick into gear, but I didn’t really mind because I was quite amused up to that point by all the goings on at St Mallory’s, which are told very humorously. The unfolding of the plot did seem to slow down again a couple of times in the middle of the novel, but once again the good narration made fairly light of this. Around 70% of the way through I did think “enough with digressions and interrupting yourself, get on with the mystery!” a couple of times, but it really picked up at about 80%. The mystery itself was, I think, well planned, and the clues and red-herrings well laid, although in the end it was not an overwhelmingly complicated mystery — just complicated enough to make a good story. I suppose you don’t want to go overboard in your debut novel (a mistake Paolini made), but once the authors gain experience in this genre their plots will surely get more complex.

I thought the character development of Helen in particular was good in this novel. All the way through she is a well-written character with realistic strengths and weaknesses, and she goes from being an often bad-tempered girl who just wants to live in London — and wants to hate St. Mallory’s — to becoming some one who says— well… I won’t spoil it for you. Also, even though she came across as a bit of an uncultured city kid, she quotes The Lord of the Rings, which automatically makes someone awesome.

The other characters are good too, but Helen is probably the best. I thought it was strange how Xuan, for whom English was a fifth language, knew so many English idioms — maybe the Brits just use so many more idioms than the rest of us that you can’t help but pick them. I did think it was pretty funny how she points out so many quirks of the English language. (“why do people say ‘pretty’, which usually means ‘beautiful’, when they mean to say ‘quite’?”)

From the way it finished, I couldn’t tell if St. Mallory’s Forever! is meant to have sequels or not. It doesn’t exactly promise them, but it certainly leaves the door wide open. I suppose that’s the way to do it, really.

So all in all, St. Mallory’s Forever! is some pretty enjoyable light reading (though not so light that it didn’t have me looking up words in the Kindle dictionary pretty often!) and I would recommend that you give it ago, especially if you like a light-hearted mystery. It would probably appeal to girls more than guys, but I’m a guy and I read it, so its certainly not gender exclusive. It would probably appeal to people most between the ages of about 12 and 17, but don’t be exclusive about that either. It only costs 3 bucks in the Kindle store (not available in print yet), so it would be a good way to liven a dull weekend. (actually, it was longer than I was expecting — though why I was expecting a short book, being familiar with Paolini, I don’t know) But I digress. Give St. Mal’s a go!

The Shine On Award

The Shine On Award Badge

 

Well, well, well, who would have thought I was so interesting? I have been the recipient of a second blog-award! The most generous benefactor of this prize was Nevillegirl (there was no least generous benefactor today), whose wonderful blog you should be able to find by clicking on the link. She actually nominated me several days ago, but I have had a terrible time trying to connect to the WordPress server of late — that and I’ve had a  lot of schoolwork — so that’s why I haven’t posted until now.

Like most awards this one has several rules (they’re terribly legalistic…), and I must post them here.

Rules:

(1) Link back to the blogger who nominated you.

(2) Post the badge on your blog.

(3) Answer the questions posed to you.

(4) Nominate five bloggers who shine a little light in your day and be sure to notify them.

(5) Issue ten questions you’d like them to answer.

Rules one and two ticked off, I’ll commence with answering the ten questions.

(1) What do your shoes look like? Well the shoes I wear most of the time are imitation Havannas thongs, a size too big for my feet. Before I started wearing these I had a pair of the mass-produced featureless fits-all-feet $2 thongs, but someone took one of them by mistake and left one of theirs — which were too small and even dirtier than mine. Suffice to say, I upgraded to the imitation Havannas.

(2) What’s the strangest thing you’ve heard someone say lately? That’s a difficult question. Perhaps my sister, just an hour ago, who said “I didn’t know ‘excusez moi’ was French!” — to which my Mum said, “Is it really!?”. However I shouldn’t make fun of them because they are much better at languages than I am.

(3) What’s the strangest thing you’ve said lately? That’s also a difficult question, but perhaps this: “When you’re exhausted, it’s amazing how refreshing a good run can be.”

(4) What is your current computer wallpaper? Boringly, it’s the default desktop picture for Mac OS X Lion — but it’s a really nice picture. It’s of the Andromeda Galaxy.

(5) What do you remember about your very first day of school? Alas I remember nothing of it…

(6) Who is your favo[u]rite character — that you’ve created? Simlon the Explorer. He comes into my first two novels, but though I really like him and he’s an amazing guy with a cool background, he’s a bit of a mystery in the story and quite irrelevant. A bit of a Tom Bombadil.

(7) What would be your survival strategy in the Hunger Games? That is a difficult question. (is that response getting clichéd by now?) I utterly loathe the idea of a Hunger Games and would be mortally terrified of entering one. Knowing me, I would probably spend the whole time running from everyone else and hiding. In the end I would probably get killed by Tracker Jackers or mutts. Or maybe an arrow.

(8) What song are you listening to right now? Confession time. I rarely listen to music while I write. But I thought it would be interesting to listen to music while I write this post, on shuffle, to see what I’d get up to by this question. Currently it’s In A Little While”, by U2.

(9) What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read? Hmm… it’s hard to say, but The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, by Agatha Christie was scary in a unique way — it wasn’t very intense at all, but I was quite shaken when I figured out who the murderer was. It didn’t help that I was reading in bed.

(10) What’s behind you? If I moved out of the line of sight of the computer camera and took a photo, I would have a near-perfect replica of my Gravatar. That’s what’s behind me.

Now I ask ten questions:

(1) What is the most recent book you’ve read that you really liked?

(2) What was the most recent song you’ve heard that you really liked?

(3) What was the most recent film you’ve watched that you really liked?

(4) What was the first (imaginary) world that you created?

(5) What is your favourite genre to write?

(6) Excluding people you know personally, who are some of your heroes?

(7) Which do you value more, your hearing or sight (would you rather not be blind or not be deaf)?

(8) Do you rather a hot climate or a cold climate?

(9) Would you rather spend an afternoon playing boardgames or sport?

(10) Do you like Maths?

Finally time to nominate my five people.

Here, I am afraid, I am about to break the rules. There are only two blogs that I often comment on, and the author of one has given me the award. As such there will be only one nominee today, and he is Liam, Head Phil. Now of course Liam doesn’t like awards very much, and since he is posting less regularly now he probably won’t want to use up one of his posts on an award. Nevertheless, it is here for him if he wants it, and if he doesn’t want the bother of answering questions and nominating people — that’s fine. I think it’s a particularly relevant award for him, since he is posting less often now and we all want him to keep on shining from time to time (which he has been, fortunately).

Anyway, thank you all, and goodnight.

Don’t Live in a Bubble

As the old saying goes, “you learn something new everyday”. For most people this is probably a vast understatement, but even so, with 7 billion people and the whole wide universe out there, all our learning barely scratches the surface — it’s rather like dragging a heavy bucketful of water out of the Pacific Ocean. Nevertheless the are so many reasons to learn as much as we possibly can, about as many different topics as we can.

One reason is so that we can learn from the mistakes and successes of those who have gone before us. I once heard someone suggest that history is a useless subject, but I utterly disagree. History is the study of things that have happened in the past, and if we know what has happened in the past we can predict what will happen in the future — and act accordingly. Why should humanity make the same mistakes over and over again? So many wars have claimed millions of lives each within the last hundred years, and if we don’t learn about them they could happen again and again. Humans have such a short memory (there’s a good song at the other end of the link), but if we all learn more about the events of the past, maybe these atrocities will happen less often.

Another reason to learn, and branch out our fields of knowledge, is so that we can appreciate other people better. Everyone has different interests, and interests are the most fun when you have other people to share them with. By studying foreign languages; listening to all different kinds of music; paying attention when our friends talk about their favourite sports — we gain assets which will help us to connect with a broad range of people. We’ll be able to talk to all sorts of people and know where they’re coming from and what they’re talking about. Don’t live in a bubble.

Finally, if you take the trouble to find out about all sorts of things — not just your pet interests — you just might find something better. You might find a sport more interesting than any you’ve ever watched or played (if you’re looking for one, by the way, try AFL!); or you might find a skill you never knew you had. For Christmas my sister made me three hacky-sacks and with them I’ve learnt how to juggle. By branching out and trying new things we can pick up interesting skills like this. As Liam used as an example, rather than writing traditional fantasy for the rest of your life, try writing some horror or some science-fiction versions of fair-tales.

But even though it’s awesome to seek knowledge, often it’s not very high on my priority list. Like many people (though I do appreciate school) I rejoice at holidays and groan at going back to my studies. Too often I spent my Saturdays playing computer games or on Facebook rather than studying other languages or reading good books. We appreciate the results of learning, but we don’t like to put the effort in.

So let’s apply this stuff. I don’t want to be in the dark about wars that have ravaged our planet killing millions of people each. I don’t want to speak English, and only English, all my life. I want to branch out and learn more — and learn more deeply about what I know already. All this is easy to say and not so easy to do, when it comes down to it. Nevertheless, let’s apply it. Don’t live in a bubble.

“Nothing changes on New Years Day”

Two nights ago I stayed up until 12:15 a.m — for me, that’s late. Why would I do such a thing? Well the main reason was that a bunch of my often far-flung friends and I were in one house together, playing Risk (having finished playing soccer in the dark). When the rest of my family went home at 10 o’clock, I didn’t want to go — I wanted to extend the moment. But my excuse for staying up was the same as that of millions of others who surely stayed up till midnight that night: it was the last day in the calendar year.

As the New Year drew nearer we huddled around the iPad, bracing ourselves against the bitter 20 degree wind (68 Fahrenheit). The clock ticked by: 11:59:58 p.m, Dec 31st 2012 … 11:59:59 p.m, Dec 31st 2012 … 12:00:00 a.m, Jan 1st 2013!

Nothing happened, I assure you. The sky remained black, but peppered with stars; the breeze remained piercingly chill (for the tropics anyway); the ground stood firm; The clock kept ticking. Just another day. As far as I know January 1st, as a date, doesn’t even have much significance. According to some wonky tradition, it’s the date of Christ’s circumcision, but I’d take that with a grain of salt. Nevertheless, it’s a good excuse to stay up late — and a good chance to plan to achieve things, too.

New Year’s resolutions are notoriously ineffective: most people abandon them within two weeks. Nevertheless, if we continue with our resolutions, we can make the world a better place(depending on what our resolutions are). So don’t throw out your resolutions, merely resolve to keep them.

Here is my list for 2013:

(1) Get good at speaking the Khmer language. Considering that I’ve lived in Cambodia for most of my life, my language sucks. Nevertheless, I feel I’ve made some small progress in the last couple of months and I want to keep it up. This is my biggest resolution for 2013.

(2) Re-write a novel. Everybody talks about writing their first novel; I want to re-write my first novel. Generally I plough through my novels pretty well, but once they are finished I don’t touch them again. This year I want to polish up something I’ve written.

(3) Post on this blog more regularly, even if it is only about once a week. I’ve been ridiculously inconsistent in the last few months and while I know I’ll never be posting every day, hopefully I can be at least more regular, if not more frequent.

(4) Run my first Half Marathon. In some ways this is a cheat resolution: I really like running and I’m quite good at it, so this won’t be a chore. But a Half Marathon is a respectable distance, so if I post a respectable time for it I think the challenge will be worth the resolution.

(5) Be more productive. I spent plenty of time “working”, but I think this time could be significantly less if I was more efficient. I need to concentrate harder; refrain from googling things, looking at the newspaper, or checking Facebook while studying; organise my time. The more productivity I milk out of each working hour, the more free time I have!

If I can do all these things in the coming year, I will be happy, but I don’t expect the clock ticking over a new year to make me a better person. I’m the same guy; I have the same struggles and the same strengths. The New Year will not make it easier to do things, or to change habits, it is merely a convenient time to plan to do so. But if we hold firm in our resolve, with God’s help perhaps we can achieve some things in 2013.

So Happy New Year!

 

P.S Yes, I know it’s now January 2nd, I’m always behind the times.

PP.S I was planning to insert New Year’s Day by U2 here, but I noticed Nevillegirl has posted it on her New Year’s post already, so I won’t bother. Go here if you want to listen to it (it’s a good song).