1 January 2021

Let’s Embrace 2021 with a New Hobby - or Two

Let’s lift a glass in a dubious welcome to Covid-19 Mk2. Well, we manoeuvred Mk1 and now better know what to expect. Just as important, we know to balance our expectations while awaiting the full roll-out of various vaccines. For most of us that isn’t going to happen anytime soon so we just have to make the best of it. And, after whinging in true British style, that's exactly what we're doing.

For many this has meant re-acquainting with long-laid-aside hobbies, which shows no sign of slowing. The sales of jigsaw puzzles has soared, but that's understandable. It’s a non-competitive, absorbing, brain-exercising pastime that lowers blood pressure and heart rate, and calms the mind; something akin to active meditation. 

My husband was bought a jigsaw as a joke back in the summer, but he enjoyed it so much Father Christmas has off-loaded another four to keep him occupied until the better weather heralds the call of his garden. I was tempted to roll my eyes, except I discovered that novelist Nick Hornby, like me a non-too-fast writer, has one on the go beside his writing desk. Adding the occasional piece or two frees his thought processes and stops him dipping into social media, the biggest time-suck known to man. Or woman. I just need to find a clear surface big enough to set one out.

Another huge resurgence hobby is Philately. Yes, stamp collecting. I blinked at this one, too, especially when I realised it could be undertaken “virtually”. YouTube is awash with fascinating videos. Honest, they can be fascinating. Dip into Exploring Stamps for snazzy delivery of interesting information, not just on the stamps themselves, but on what they commemorate. The Swearing Parrot, for instance. No, honest. Her name was Millie and she was “deported” from Expo 67 in Montreal for not just swearing but swearing in two languages, only to become immortalised on a set of Guyanan stamps.

And finally, the biggest resurgence of all, the Bókaflóð, or to be precise in Icelandic where it originates, the Jólabókaflóðið – the Christmas Book Flood. For a nation of slightly over 350,000 people there are more bookshops per capita than anywhere else in the world. Everyone is gifted at least one physical book on Christmas Eve, it’s a tradition that dates back to WW2 when just about everything else was on ration. And modern technology has not dented the tradition one bit. In fact it has enhanced it. As one might surmise for such a reading nation, the country has embraced foreign language ebooks in a BIG way, especially English ebooks. Which is good news for writers.

After a bit of a wayward year my own writing is sailing into smoother waters. There'll be more blogposts and an update on my resurrected newsletter. Sections of my e-backlist will be promoted, and there's a change in direction for my fiction. Relationships will still be to the fore, but they always have been, no matter the genre.

All in all, I have decided 2021 will be a year to enjoy rather than worry over. I think that's the best attitude any of us can take. Come join me.

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