Friday, January 03, 2014

A Date With Kate - New Year Thoughts (inspired by Ruby!)

It's 2014  - new year - new me and all that. I fully intended to be sorted out, tidied up, organised in a word  . .  .

Hah! Insert hollow laughter here.

I was planning on a review of the past year and a look into what's happening in the new one - but Fate has a way of stepping in and hitting you over the head with things when you don't expect them. This time it hit me over the head with a migraine. Thanks Fate! I really did feel as if I had been hit over the head too.
So I'm not sorted out, tidied or organised at all. And the review of the year is not written - as is the looking into the future post . . .

But really isn’t that what January/New Year is all about  - it’s about looking back, taking stock, then looking forward. January is named for Janus, the Roman god who is pictured as two-faced - looking back and looking forward. 

I’ve spent much of today taking down and packing up the Christmas decorations. The house looks strangely bare – but much more ready for work and getting down to a new year. The new kitten isn't pleased . . .

Oh – if you haven’t met the  new kitten – her name is Ruby and she is the result of the visit I paid to the Cats’ Protection League Rescue Centre. I wasn't sure if I wanted a new cat, if I was  ready for one after losing Flora so horribly, and far too soon. But this little black and white thing flung herself into my arms and purred . . .and purred  ., . . and that was it.  Love at first sight.  Even Charlie has fallen for her – after a few hisses and spitting sessions. Now she chases his tail, and we have to admit that his tail is a real temptation to any kitten with spirit.

And isn’t that, in a way what romance writers wrote about all the time – the way that , as the song goes, ‘Love changes everything.’  And once it strikes, nothing is ever the same again. OK,  so we’re talking about heroes and heroines, not rescuing kittens – but the effect is the same.

And if ever there was an occupation that is guaranteed to have you looking backwards and forwards at the same time, then this is one of them

So as I packed away the decorations and hovered up the pine needles (it was fine when Ruby decided to climb the tree – the real problem was when Charlie, five times her size, decided to follow her! ) I was thinking – and remembering what 2013 had contained. One of the problems, I think, with the idea of a new year, and New Year Resolutions, is that the need to resolve to do better, be thinner, become more organised etc etc implies that what we were before wasn’t good enough. That we need to improve, become the ‘New You’ when in fact the old one was perfectly fine, it just needed a dust down and a spruce up. There are
people who will come out with phrases like ‘I only wrote 10 books this year’! And add, like in a school report, ‘must do better.’


2013 wasn’t a brilliant year for my writing – lots of problems intervened and  my confidence took a battering.  It doesn’t matter what stage you’re at in your writing,  at 6 books , or 60  - or more -  you can still  lose track of what you’re doing, lose the confidence to keep on keeping on. And  - well, that’s where Ruby came in  - both literally and  imaginatively.  She was only 9 weeks old, abandoned, had been wandering the streets  in the cold, with a rough, staring coat, but she was still loving and trusting – and she is helping to heal the empty space where Flora should have been.  She helped to make Christmas one of the best ever . She curls up beside me when I sleep and she’s there purring when I wake up.  What is it someone once said – nothing makes a house into a home so much as the presence of one small cat.  And  she doesn’t give a damn if I lose weight or dress smartly or if I wrote a dozen books . (Actually she’s prefer it if I didn’t do quite so much writing, there’s a ball to play with  - or a piece of paper on a string . . .)

So I’m going to look forward to 2014 in the same way that Ruby does-  because it’s there. Not because I must write this, achieve that, lose so many pounds, walk so many miles.  Those thoughts get you on a treadmill so that you  can’t see the wood for the trees, can’t find the joy in what you’re doing because it’s all ‘must do more’,  ‘must try harder’.   I lost a lot of the joy in writing in 2013 (false accusations of  stealing someone else’s work can do that to you)  but I’m hoping to get it back again in 2014.   Because writing with joy is the way to write well – to write the stories of your heart rather than  struggling to follow  ‘rules’ that aren’t really there, or trying so hard to create the sort of story you think  the editors want, rather than the one your characters are begging you to tell. That's the way I wrote my newest title -  A Question Of Honour -  coming up in June this year  -  and my editor loved it too.

So that’s what I’m looking forward to in this new year. And what I’ll be writing – just as soon as I persuade the small, purring black and white creature that she really should get off the keyboard and  let me write! But she’s reminded me of  me such a  great lesson that  I can’t mind – can I?

Happy New Year everyone. 


  1. Replies
    1. She is a little treasure, Michelle - even if she does decide to wake me up by biting my toes!

  2. Oh Kate so sorry to hear about Flora! It Little Ruby is lucky to have you!

    1. Thank you Linda - it was a real sorrow to lose Flora - she was only 6. It almost feels as if Ruby knows she needs to fill a hole that is (currently) much larger than her little black and white person.

  3. Kate ~ Last year I never crossed a whole bunch of stuff of my to do list but I did a lot of other stuff that needed to be done. This year I too hope to be a bit more organized but I'll take what life gives me.

    Hope 2014 is good to you and your family.

    1. Hi Kaelee - funnily enough, just after I wrote this piece I saw an article in a magazine that said the thing that had to go in 2014 was the 'To Do' list. I doubt I'll ever really get rid of mine, but like you I think I need to accept that sometimes life is what it is and you can't change it. Ruby certainly does that!

  4. Kate, sorry to hear that 2013 was a tough year for you. I think it was about this time last year that you wrote about resolution being the key in writing and that became my mantra through all my writing ups and downs in 2013 - so thank you for helping me through 2013 and also for the Delivering Emotional Depth course you gave on the Harlequin forum - it was fantastic. Wishing you a great 2014.

  5. Ruby is a wonderful cat-person. She will brighten your life, I'm sure. She's already brightening mine writing me letters. Such an intelligent little cat! I hope that the joys of Ruby and Charlie make 2014 a wonderful year. And you will always remember the joy that was Flora's gift to you. I think she enjoyed every minute of having Kate Walker for her human. And now she's gone on to be the princess of even greater realms.