So long, 2017, & thanks for all the fish…

2017 – with its Weinsteins, ignorance, natural disasters compounded by human action, Brexit – hasn’t been great for the world, but it’s been extraordinarily kind to me in my personal and professional life.

My debut novel The Girl of Ink & Stars won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize in March, and the British Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year in April. My second, The Island at the End of Everything, got shortlisted for the Costa Children’s Book Award and the Blue Peter Book Award in November.

I wrote my third book: at my desk in Oxford, in a leather armchair by a storm tossed sea on the Isle of Harris, in pubs and cafes with my best friends.

I hosted the launch of my favourite author of all time’s new book in October: The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman. I finished it on Will and Lyra’s bench in the Botanical Gardens as the midday bells began to ring and rain began to fall. I cried.

I saw a wild sea otter.

I read and read and read: 111 books this year. Adventures, thrillers, love stories, horror, non-fiction, poetry. I glutted on other people’s words and worlds and it made me ache to write more, to write better, but never to write like them.

I got married three times: at a registry in Oxford in front of family, in the Bodleian Library in front of friends, by the sea in Goa. We exchanged rings, danced our first dance, threw rice and ghee into a fire. We promised across two continents in two languages, to continue growing our lives together.

We met our new niece, watched our other nieces and nephews become even more themselves. The years has ended with two engagements of two favourite people. We travelled to four tiny islands in the Indian Ocean and lived in our swimsuits, got sunburnt and tanned and freckled, swam with a sea turtle, drank coconut and rum, snorkelled away from a shark, spent £60 on dog and cat food for the strays, walked white beaches, saw no sunsets, fought once.

I made amazing new friends, and fell even more in love with my ‘old’ ones. I spent a lot of time in bed with our cat, Luna, or on the sofa with her, or taking pictures of her.

I had no panic attacks. I lost only one week to depression. I was anxious only for hours at a time. I am sure having a cat is part of the reason for this. I got my long-term health issues diagnosed. I completed Yoga with Adriene’s 30 Day Challenge.

In 2018 I will travel even more, for work and for just because: to Malaysia, Oman, UAE, Norway, Italy, France, Spain. I will continue to donate too much money to charity and send too much to Kickstarter campaigns and Unbound. I will learn to cook ramen from scratch. I will buy secondhand clothes and use my reusable water bottle, forgo straws. I will visit friends more regularly, and go dancing more.

I hope to care less about what my body looks like, and care more about my body. I hope to visit family in India. I hope to text friends back within an hour rather than a day. I hope to write two books and read a hundred.

I hope for another year of happiness and health, and I wish the same for you.