Happy New Year!
Letting Time Get On With It
I must admit the days when I saw the New Year in are long gone… I take the view now Time can get on without me nicely thank you while I have a decent sleep! After all, it does for the rest of the year.
What the New Year brings me is a new calendar and I usually go for a Border Collie one. The one I’ve got for 2020 has a picture of my favourite breed of dog for every day of the year, guaranteed to put a smile on my face every day of the year too!
Resolutions? Bah… humbug…
The New Year is often used as an opportunity to take stock (though I use the end of the old year for that. I prefer to see the new one as a chance for beginnings). I’ve also long given up on making New Year resolutions as I mentioned last week (and indeed last year!). What I do do is set out thoughts for what I’d like to achieve in the coming 12 months and then try and achieve them. I see that as more positive.
Resolutions have a horrible habit of falling flat in my experience. Is it just me or do people tend to set nigh on impossible ones, which kind of sets up people to fail in the first place? (What I would hope for is that the Highways Agency would decide to give up on potholes for the next 12 months, not by ignoring them, but by getting them all fixed. I can dream… Incidentally, do be wary of the entrance to Hiltingbury Post Office/Tescos in Ashdown Road as there is a nasty pothole there which looks deep.).
Anyway, I decided long ago I wanted none of that resolutions nonsense but I always like new beginnings. It’s the hope behind them that attracts me the most I think. I like hope especially when the news is grim. It’s important to have something to hope for, no matter how minor it might seem to someone else. It’s not minor to me!
Beginnings are full of promise and they’re a tricky thing to get right for any creative types. It is the beginning of a book, story, film, or piece of music that will draw the audience in to want to enjoy the rest of the “product”.
Some of my favourite beginnings include:-
1. The opening sequence to the first LOTR film which shows how Sauron lost the Ring of Power. There is a real sense of an opportunity lost to destroy the thing then. That sets up anticipation for the story to come. You have to find out if the ring does get destroyed and if so how and by whom.
2. Another favourite of mine is the opening to Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal. It says a lot for the story that it starts with the hero being hanged and goes on from there. Yet I am really not giving much away when I say that!
3. The opening to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony really has to be the most famous opening in classical music (and probably any kind of music come to that). Da da da dum….
Over-Egging the Pudding
The other issue with beginnings is giving enough information to draw your reader in but without giving too much away. It is too easy to over-egg the pudding (and I love that phrase. You can just picture how that came about, can’t you? I wonder who the unfortunate soul was who discovered over-egging really wasn’t a good idea. I suspect they didn’t end up having a highly successful career as a chef).
The ending of any creative piece also has to deliver on the promise of that beginning. It’s fine to leave your audience wanting more but you do have to deliver something fairly tasty for them to make them want to come back to your wares (stories/films/pieces of music or what have you), rather than have them walk out metaphorically in disgust because you’ve given them precious little they like.
I always see a new story or book (whether writing them or reading them) as a chance to explore a new world with a new set of characters. I want to be entranced by that world and so the writer has to lure me in so I keep reading to the end. If a book does not grab me quickly, I don’t finish it. Life’s too short to read “duds” though occasionally I have gone back to a book at a later date and discovered I liked it.
I remember trying to read The Hobbit at junior school but just couldn’t get on with it. Years later, it was another story (pun intended!) though I stick by my view trying to get three films out of what is a relatively short children’s book is a classic example of cash cowing. I’ve still not seen the film due to that. The Lord of the Rings is a trilogy and there is a lot to it so three films there was fine but never for The Hobbit.
Beginnings can also speak of learning from mistakes and putting the past behind you. Remembering is important, of course, but learning to let go of what really doesn’t matter overall in the grand scheme of things is not an easy thing to do. New beginnings can help there. We all need new beginnings sometimes.
So my feelings at the start of any New Year are mixed, they always are and will be I think. I look ahead with hope (and try not to be dragged down by the misery in the news), focus on things I want to work on and then get on with them. There are always regrets. You can easily think of the things you didn’t achieve in a year but again new beginnings help there. You may not have achieved Plan A last year. Well, can you do so this year instead?
I am looking ahead to the beginning of the new season for the Chameleon Theatre Group and hope to get along to see Atlantis, their panto in due course. It won’t be that long either, relatively speaking, before the evenings seem a little lighter and I spot the first snowdrops and crocuses. It is a miracle of nature that plants survive what are often harsh winters and begin again in the spring. (I also love the evergreens that take all that winter has to throw at them and just carry on – there’s a lesson in life there!).
Another New Beginning – Doctor Who
Another thing I am looking forward to is the beginning of the new series of Doctor Who. By the time this goes out, the first episode will have been screened. I grew up in the Jon Pertwee/Tom Baker eras but have enjoyed the modern revamp and think Jodie Whitaker is a good addition though my favourite episode from the revamp is easily Matt Smith in Vincent and the Doctor.
It is a fabulous tribute to Vincent Van Gogh and the idea behind Doctor Who when it was commissioned originally was that children should learn something from it whether it was learning something about history or what have you. It wasn’t all about the monsters! The very best episodes of Who show you something about what humanity is like too – and rightly it isn’t always a flattering picture. If you like Van Gogh, do check this episode out as it was beautifully done. The Youtube clip is only a taster (though a great one).
Whatever the New Year has in store, I hope it proves to be a happy and healthy 12 months for us all.
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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