Well – it’s 2014, and so I’m going to post my resolutions for the year.
I do have mixed feelings about the institution of New Year’s Resolutions – I feel like they’re often adopted with a sense of explicit ‘permission’ to have failed by February, because hey, nobody ever really sticks to new year’s resolutions, right? At least in my experience, there’s a pervading view of the new year’s resolution as being meant in the same spirit as someone with a hangover saying “I’ll never drink again – I mean it this time!” – an sort of expression of “wow, I sure did indulge over Christmas / drop the ball on my plans for last year / waste a lot of time playing Minesweeper – better sort myself out!” with the understanding that things will drift back towards the status quo eventually. But on the other hand, my 2013 ended on quite a low note, with grief and illness knocking the wind out of my sails, so even the illusion of a fresh start as dictated by numbers on a calendar feels like a good thing. I also think there is a certain symbolic value in taking stock and making plans at the time of year when the days around me begin to lengthen once more and I emerge from a form of hibernation. There is a lot that I would like to do and learn and make, and I want to make 2014 a year in which these things happen. So I’ve actually been thinking about resolutions since the beginning of December, and trying to work on the foundations for the year ahead as much as I’m able to.
Anyway. I have resolved that I will:
1. De-centre whiteness in the media that I consume.
Read more books by people of colour; watch more films/television shows by and starring people of colour; actively seek out artists of colour who are currently performing in the spoken word and live music scenes. If I get The Cutlery Drawer up and running again, make sure that people of colour are represented in the lineups. I reached the conclusion that this was an important thing for me to do some while ago, and I would like to be held accountable in this regard, which is why I’m making this resolution publicly. In the light of the shocking racism that’s already being enacted by white feminists this year (seriously! It’s been two days!) this feels even more crucial: I need to address my white privilege. And that doesn’t mean reading about the existence of structural racism, shaking my head with disapproval at the injustice, and then saying “okay, all done here!” It doesn’t even just mean calling out racism in fellow white people when I see it. It means recognising that I am entrenched in a white-supremacist society which systematically devalues the creative and intellectual work of people of colour, relegating this work to a ‘specialist’ interest.* It means accepting the fact that by consuming media and creative work without addressing the white-supremacist nature of the creative industries, I am tacitly supporting racism. It means making the effort to actually hear the voices of people of colour – political voices, artistic voices, voices that speak from and to a vastness of experiences which my white privilege means I can ignore. It’s not enough to follow blogs and tweets by people of colour, when of the 22 books (poetry, fiction, and academia) I finished reading this year, only two were written by authors of colour. (I haven’t been tracking my film/TV/music consumption in the same way, so I don’t have numbers, but: those are also for the most part pretty damn white.) So, in 2014: engage, engage, engage with the creative and intellectual work of people of colour, and de-centre the whiteness which currently dominates my media landscape.
*Which, y’know, sounds rather like the grossly racist and classist claim that the word “intersectionality” (coined by a woman of colour to articulate her experience of oppression!) is too ‘academic’ and ‘specialist’ for working-class white women to understand… oh but wait, it’s alright, because those claims are now being swept under the rug as part of the vile meme about ‘reclaiming’ intersectionality (from women of colour who are being framed as ‘abusers’!). Urgh.
2. Focus on my writing, and getting it out there.
Draw up a plan for the year – make sure I’m writing, recording, researching, performing, and submitting work to magazines/anthologies. Go back to having a calendar of poetry/fiction submission deadlines, and send out work regularly. A couple of specific ambitions: headline a poetry night; get at least three things published (including at least one piece of fiction); have the fairytales collection approaching completion (or at least, comprising over 10 finished and fully edited short stories); be somehow involved in next year’s Crick Crack fairytale show. In line with resolution number 1, engage with criticisms of white authors/authorship, and with ways to keep my work from being white-dominated/white-centric (e.g. Lena Dunham’s Girls – Racialicious is currently down but that post is still readable on the Wayback Machine) while also not crossing into cultural appropriation or exotification (e.g. Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl).
3. Take care of myself.
I went into more detail with this one on Facebook – but essentially, recognising that I have limited time, energy, and emotional resources, and allocating these to the things that matter most to me. This includes getting back into a good self-care routine (which I rather lost in November, due to a friend’s death and getting various kinds of ill again) which in turn includes allowing myself to relax and have ‘off’ days; maintaining physiotherapy and enjoyable forms of exercise (swimming, dance, and hiking – but only when I can do these things); regularly planning and cooking meals which are nutritious, and tasty; doing a sufficient amount of work in my day job; doing creative things which aren’t tied to ideas about ‘success’ or my future as a writer/performer (e.g. getting back into handcrafting things, which I’ve been doing a bit of over the holidays and really enjoying).
So, that’s my 2014. How about yours?