Sunday, 31 January 2016

Айхо, або Полювання (на) шпигуна — читаю українською

Дія другої частини роману-фентезі зосереджена в Шанталії, а точніше в Університеті Природознавства, спудеєм якого на деякий час стає Айхо. Але, завдяки новим героям та їх історіям, ми продовжуємо подорожувати різними країнами Узбережжя. У Айхо з'являються нові друзі, ментори та недруги. Звісно ж, останніх набагато більше ніж інших. Оршуля Фариняк продовжує дивувати своєю уявою та картинами теперішнього та минулого, які вона вимальовує на сторінках своєї захоплюючої оповіді. Університет Природознавстав дійсно вражає та зачаровує. А щоб мати більш чітку уяву про те, де що знаходиться до книги додається карта університету. Нажаль, ми зовсім ненадовго там затрималися. Інша тема це університетські підземелля, в яких розкривається неначе інший світ, набагато небезпечніший навіть за той, що на поверхні. Мені дуже сподобалась ідея з древніми рунами та порталами. Також мені було дуже цікаво читати про найдревніших (в мене постає питання: а чи побачимо ми їх?!) та про створення легендарного народу доломартів (вражаюче!), але дуже й дуже сумно читати про історію Делеї та, особливо, про історію Майстра Авгуса, що дещо нагадувала історію з елементами фільму-жаху.

Загалом оповідь просувалася швидким а іноді навіть блискавичним темпом. Хоча, було декілька моментів, на яких можна було б зупинитися трошки докладніше. Наприклад, мені здалося, що було дуже замало сцен між Айхо та Дідом Радо. Чогось мені бракувало в їх взаєминах, а іноді здавалося, що вони неначе чужі. А ось кінець цієї частини просто розбив моє серце! Я навіть припустити не могла, що те, що там трапилося, може трапитися. Не знаю чому; я вже мала бути готовою до цього, бо, впродовж ціх двох книжок багато що жахливого та незворотнього траплялося з багатьма героями та істотами, з якими Айхо довелося зустрітися за час своїх мандр та митарств. Наприклад, я ніколи не забуду малого радика. Ніколи. Тоді я теж не могла повірити, що він загинув і що більше не з'явиться знов. Нічого не скажеш, Оршуля Фариняк, вміє дивувати, шокувати та вражати. Отже, тепер чекаю на третю частину...

До речі, мені здається, що книги про Айхо, із таким  багатим, різноманітним, різнобарвним та неповторним власним світом, обов'язково потребують так звану "companion book" - щось на зразок єнциклопедії із додатковою інформацією про різні країни та народи Узбережжя, цікаві історичні факти та, звісно ж, каталог усіх тих різноманітних істот, тварин, птахів, рослин та кольорових висловів, якими ряснить оповідь))

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Harry Potter Moment of the Week #17

What do you think your best subject would be? Not necessarily your favorite but the one you think you'd be best at.

I really love animals and plants so I think Care of Magical Creatures and Herbology would be my best subjects, because I would really enjoy studying them and learning everything that I can. I think Charms and Transfiguration would be my second best subjects, though I have a feeling that Transfiguration would be somewhat trickier than Charms. I'm sure I would never excel at either as Hermione but I think I would be at least an Exceeds Expectations student. I'm also really good at languages and I think I would do well in Ancient Runes. In fact, I would really love to study them. I'm not sure how well I would do at DADA, but I know that Potions would be my downfall. You need to have an almost instinctive understanding of how different ingredients work with each other and you must feel on a deep level what you're doing if you want to become really good at it. It reminds me a bit of Chemistry, which was always an unfathomable subject for me. I tried brewing potions at Pottermore but only ended up melting my cauldrons and I could never score high points for my duelling skills.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

My fourth writing-related blog post in which I'm talking about modern distractions and my unfortunate inability to resist them

I often find myself staring at the screen in the middle of writing and sometimes I'm not even aware that I'm doing it. It's like I've fallen through some portal that holds me suspended in a kind of a trance, like a specimen of an insect in a jar of a special solution: I'm not getting anywhere any time soon. I know that just a moment ago I was scribbling happily away and then, all of a sudden, I am just staring into space, my mind blank. That's when the many distractions the Internet has to offer swoop down upon me and drag me along their various links and threads that wrap themselves around me like Devil's Snare. The point I'm trying to make here is a) there are too many distractions nowadays and b) I'm very much susceptible to their influence. 

I know I should resist them if I want to make any progress at all and in order to do that I just have to change one 'p' (that stands for 'procrastination') for another (that stands for 'productivity'). But to my great shame I've discovered that I can be a very weak human being when it comes to the Internet and all its distractions: Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, Wordpress, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.. These are my usual haunts and I'm like an addict: I can't stop coming back for more. I can argue that when I'm following many different threads and links and read posts, entries and comments, I'm not wasting my time, because while I'm not writing myself at the moment, they're all about writing and improving your craft. Hence, the dichotomy: I spend so much time reading advice on becoming a better writer that I have very little time left for actual writing. Ironic, isn't it? 

But that's in the first half of the day. When I come home from work, usually tired and just wanting to relax, I fall prey to another distraction: TV-shows. I think it was Sheldon Cooper who said in one of the episodes of Big Bang Theory (to justify his inability to come up with anything new or relevant in his chosen scientific field) that we live in the golden age of TV and I can't help agreeing. TV-shows and period dramas have become my downfall. There are so many of them! I've got my old favourites that I enjoy re-watching over and over again. Having no friends growing up and later in life meant that I had to look for them elsewhere and I found them in abundance in books and TV-shows alike. Then there are new ones, which begets the question: Where to find the time to watch them all? It's almost a relief when the show turns out not worth watching. 

But, with so many distractions abound, is there a chance to accomplish and to achieve anything without, say, undergoing the Vulcan ritual of Kolinahr? How am I supposed to stay focused on my writing when I am constantly tempted away from it to roam and explore the vast expanse of the web and the great number and variety of the shows? I guess there is only one answer to that: set your priorities straight and get to work *said in a very stern voice with an impressive frown*. It's like learning to Apparate — you must always remember the three Ds: Destination, Determination, Deliberation. Seems pretty apt for writing as well. Also, there's a good old saying: work done, have your fun! So there you are. Go and write. Besides, you're very lucky indeed: writing can be lots of fun! 

Talking about what's distracting me from writing, using lots of pop culture references. via @faridamestek (Click to tweet)

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Кав'ярня на розі — читаю українською

Як я вже зазначала декілька постів нижче, цього року маю мету прочитати якомога більше книжок українською мовою. Також маю намір ділитися своїми враженнями на моєму блозі. Може комусь буде цікаво. Може ні. До цього часу я вже встигла написати два позитивних відгука, але сьогодні маю поділитися не дуже позитивними емоціями, які, нажаль, викликала в мене книга «Кав'ярня на розі». Мені дуже прикро це робити, бо, по-перше, я покладала великі сподівання на цю книжку, а, по-друге, це книжка від Видавництва Старого Лева, яке мені дуже подобається не тільки як читачеві, але і як авторові. 

Дивна якась річь. Начебто все як я люблю: книжка про книжки; про людей, які люблять, читають, розуміють, цінують та колекціонують книжки; також велику роль, неначе один із героїв оповіді, грає кав'ярня (від одного тільки слова стає якось тепло та ароматно, чи не так?); дія відбувається в непримітному, невеличкому місті... Одним словом, там було усе, що мені так подобається і що могло стати цікавим фоном для якоїсь захоплюючої історії. Та, нажаль, мені чогось не вистачило, щоб по-справжньому полюбити цю книжку та мати бажання повернутися до неї знов. 

Може забракло дії. Натомість, було аж занадто балачок та роздумів (з якими я безперечно згодна), які перетворили художній твір на збірку есе на філософські теми. А може це через те, що мені так і не сподобалися герої (окрім самої кав'ярні)? Я так і не змогла знайти в них щось окрім тих їх балачок про книжки, що мені були б до вподоби у їх характерах чи історіях. Мені дуже прикро, що ця книга не справдила моїх сподівань та не причарувала мене так, як її обкладинка та назва. Нажаль, я не змогла поринути у світ, що вона обіцяла відкрити. Мабуть через те, що сюжет майже відсутній, а дія дуже квола. Під кінець було декілька жвавих сторінок, і здавалося, що ось-ось, щось має трапитися... 

Гадаю, мені не подобається читати книжки, які аж настількі схожі на справжнє життя. Залишилось якесь не дуже приємне відчуття. Та це моє, суто суб'єктивне враження, і я гадаю, що багато кому ця книжка прийдеться до душі.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

My third writing-related blog post in which I discuss the limitations of writing what you know, the disadvantages of writing what you don't know and how it has been effecting my writing in general and my current WIP in particular

I must confess that there was a time when I used to scoff at 'write what you know' advice. Surely that's not right? I reasoned that writing what you know would greatly limit the number of topics one could actually write about, which would, in its turn, effect the number of books being written in a dramatic way. No, said I. I want to write what I feel, what I want, what I imagine, what I have no first clue about! Isn't that what writing is all about? To explore the secret, the concealed, the unknown? To use your imagination in order to supplant your lack of knowledge? Well, that seemed to suffice for some time — during that very early period of blissful belief in my own genius (I think most writers go through it) — in other words, until I knew better and understood that the not knowing is effecting my writing in a big way. Looking back on the books that I had written, I suddenly realized how blind I've been not to see that I'd been projecting my own limited experience onto my characters in one big respect (at least!). 

I come from a really small family and the circle of my acquaintances and friends with whom I interact on a regular basis is even smaller. I have no idea what it's like to have a large family or a lot of friends and I'm afraid that my characters suffer from that. In my first three regency novels I had the number of families limited to two and three with the overall number of characters no more than ten throughout the whole book, while in my fantasy novel I constructed the plot in such a way that the whole kingdom was inhabited by just two people and a wolf! I didn't write conversations taking place between more than three people at the same time and as for the supporting cast of characters it was virtually non-existent. I suppose I've always known that it was something of a major flaw but, somehow, I managed to convince myself that I'm, in fact, complying with the 'write what you know' rule. 

In a roundabout way I finally came to use it! But while I can see certain advantages of following this rule, I think that there's nothing wrong with not following it either or, at least, not letting it control your writing as it did mine. I think my problem was that I just didn't want to challenge myself to break down the walls and try something new. I was afraid to let more characters in. I didn't know what to do with them, how to coordinate their actions and make them do what I wanted them to do. In other words, I didn't want them play havoc with my writing. It turned out that I was afraid to write what I didn't know after all. So, all that time the joke had been on me. I had been doing exactly what I had once so vehemently denied as an acceptable road for any writer worthy of their imagination to take. Of course, there are some things that cannot be gained through personal experience and first-hand knowledge, and sometimes not even all your imagination can help, but, thankfully, there are plenty of books to read, films and TV-shows to watch, people to observe and notes to take. After all, there are so many varied resources a writer can use in the absence of the knowledge and in order to nurture one's imagination. 

I think I've become better. I mean, I still find it much easier to create vivid and lifelike characters if I base them on people I've met (however briefly) in my life, whose main features and characteristics I blow ridiculously out of proportion for my own amusement. But, finally, my current regency WIP has a lot of families and a lot of characters and a lot more are yet to come and I'm not quite sure where they are all coming from but, hey, I'm not going to stop them! The dam has broken. And even the sequel to my fantasy novel, that I'm slowly working out, is chock-full of characters, both leading and supporting. But just as I was about to congratulate myself on overcoming one shortcoming, I realized that I've once again found myself entrapped by my own limited experience. This time I am hindered by the fact that I'm the only child in the family and Regency era is known for its large families and lots of children. It suddenly struck me that all of my families within the story are one-child families (with only one exception)! So now I have to figure out how to diversify the families, expand some of them and introduce more children of different ages into the story. Sigh...

These are some of my writing woes connected with not knowing things I'm supposed to write about. What are yours? Do share!

The pros & cons of writing what you know and what you don't. Thoughts? via @faridamestek (Click to tweet)

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Айхо, або Подорож до початку — читаю українською

Я познайомилася з Оршулею Фариняк, авторкою української фентезі «Айхо, або Подорож до початку» (видавництво Твердиня), в минулому році у Львові під час відвідування курсу «Як видати книгу». Почувши, що в неї є власна надрукована книга та ще й фентезі, я не змогла не придбати її, бо обожнюю фентезі і ніколи не читали цей жанр українською. На мій сором я неприпустимо довго читала таку захоплюючу книжку, але нарешті, як тільки в мене з'явилося трошки вільного часу, я знов поринула в її фантастичний та наповнений небезпек та пригод світ.

Я десь чула як Айхо називали українським Гаррі Поттером. Дійсно, можна провести деякі незаперечні паралелі між цими двома героями, але, як на мене, то ця книжка за своєю маштабністю, кількістю героїв, країн та народностей, фантастичних істот та тварин, різноманітних назв, місцевин, діалектів та, звісно ж, пригод та небезпек нагадала мені «Володаря Перснів». Тільки подивіться на ці назви: Вернакія, Шанталія, Сакарія, Оздерія, Ракія... В Оршулі Фариняк безкрайня фантазія на пригоди, описи, назви та імена. Вся книга це суцільний блискавичний екшн від якого аж голова кругом йде. Тож, якщо ви любите екшн, фентезі та героїв, які не зупиняються ні перед чим, щоб досягти своєї мети, навіть коли все здається марним та безнадійним, то вам обов'язково потрібно прочитати цю книгу. До того ж, це тільки початок! А я вже читаю другу...

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Harry Potter Moment of the Week #16

Which character would you want to be stranded on an island with?

Well, assuming that I would be stranded on an island with a witch or wizard, I hope we won't have to be stranded there for long (if we're stranded there against our will). I assume that any capable witch or wizard worthy of their wand who passed their Apparition Test would be able to perform Side-Along Apparition, solving our problem, right? Or, if it would be impossible to Disapparate, transfigure a couple of rocks into broomsticks and fly away.

However, assuming that we would be in hiding or something and would have to spend some time there without any means of leaving the island, I've decided that I would prefer to be stranded there with Luna. I love Luna. She is kind, friendly, imaginative, creative and lots of fun. She has inherent optimism and cheerfulness about her and a store of all sorts of tales that would be indispensable if we were stranded for a certain period of time. We would probably end up exploring the island, looking for non-existent magical creatures. But, you know, what always struck me about Luna is that despite her otherworldliness, dottiness and absent-mindedness, when it's time to act, she becomes completely focused and businesslike and she knows exactly what she's doing. So I'll be in a very good company!

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

My second writing-related blog post in which I share my writing, reading and blogging resolutions for 2016

I've already written a sort of jumbled list of my resolutions for this year two posts below but in the end, prompted by other posts of similar nature that have been cropping up everywhere I looked, I've decided to dedicate a separate post to them. So here they are: 

My writing resolutions: I'm working on three major projects at the moment (a regency novel, a fantasy novel and a fairy-tale) and it is my goal to see them completed by the end of the year. Naturally, such a goal requires a lot of hard work, which means that my first and foremost writing resolution is to write daily. I've never been able to accomplish such a feat in the past but I know that if I want to achieve any progress in my writing career at all, I have to work as much and as hard as I possibly can. I must exert myself and establish a daily writing routine, because there's simply no other way. I'm not going to set a very high daily word count, knowing my limits and duties, but I think that I should be able to produce something between 500 and 1500 words a day, depending on what day of the week it is and how many non-writing things I have to do. I also have a lot of ideas for stories that I need to outline before I completely forget them. 

My reading resolutions: I'm not at all happy with the shamefully low number of books I've read in the last two years — in fact, I've been mostly rereading my favourites over and over again — so this year I intend to read as many new books as I can. I have a common book-hoarding disease among writers and book bloggers and I tend to buy new books whenever I'm near a bookshop, which means that I have a lot of books on my TBR shelf; not to mention all the books on my poor neglected Kindle. I don't know what books and in what order I'm going to read — maybe I'll be picking them at random — but I know that at least some of them will be pertaining to Georgian or Regency England (for research purposes), some of them will definitely be Gothic novels (also for research purposes), and some of them will be in Ukrainian (to boost my Ukrainian while I'm working on my Ukrainian-language fairy-tale). I also want to read more classics that I've been neglecting and challenge myself to read outside my favourite genres and even outside my comfort zone. 

My blogging resolutions: I have never been a very active blogger and though I've been blogging (half-heartedly and sporadically) for a long time, I haven't managed to establish my online presence, contacts with other bloggers and fellow writers, let alone, lasting partnerships and friendships. In fact, sometimes I feel that in the vast online writing community, I am an insignificant, invisible, lonely nonentity. Naturally, I want to change that! First, I'm going to post weekly writing-related blog posts. I also intend to take part in different memos and blog hops. I know that they are fun and provide good exposure for you and your work, but whenever I took part in them in the past I was inevitably disappointed by the lack of feedback, which discouraged me from taking part in more of them. Still, I want to learn to network more effectively with others and, what is much more important for me, I want to find my kindred spirits out there and make some awesome writing friends. 

It looks like it's going to be a busy year for me and I hope that I'll manage to keep up with all my plans; after all, it's easy to make such grand plans in the very beginning of January, when you have a little bit of free time on your hands. So, what about you, guys? 

My writing, reading and blogging resolutions for 2016. What are yours? via @faridamestek (Click to tweet)

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Старий Будинок - читаю українською

В цьому році я хочу прочитати якомога більше книжок українською мовою, бо вважаю, що в нас є багато цікавих книжок та авторів про яких мають знати, і до того ж, я маю намір написати декілька власних казок та історій українською мовою. "Старий Будинок" від видавництва Фонтан Казок перша книжка, яку я прочитала в цьому році. На сайті видавництва зазначено, що це містична повіть. Я б додала, що це не тільки містична повість, а й фантастична, магічна та зовсім неординарна історія з ексцентричними героями, цікавми подіями та дивовижними відкриттями, які відбуваються в старому будинку, в якому, здається, вже багато років ніхто не живе. Також мені дуже близька головна тема повісті - про те, що будь-які речі, чи то будинок, чи то маленька чашечка, що були зроблені з любов'ю, мають свою власну душу, а також, що є в нашому світі люди, які знаються на цьому та які роблять усе, щоб їх зберегти. А щодо обкладинки, то вона мене просто причарувала, і я вже не могла не купити цю книжку.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Harry Potter Moment of the Week #15

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Leah @ Uncorked Thoughts and Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews. The idea is to share a favorite moment, magical item, character, spell, quote, object from the books, films or J.K.Rowling herself!

If you could change one thing from the second film, what would it be?

Unlike the first film, which I saw before reading or even knowing about the book (it's hard to imagine that there had ever been such a time when I knew nothing about Harry Potter!), I saw the second film after reading the book and I found the transition from page onto screen somewhat disappointing and underwhelming. That's not to say that I did not like the film - in fact, I was re-watching it just the other day – but I'd made the horrible mistake of expecting to see things in the way I had imagined them while reading the book and that can never be good. It did make me have a huge crush on Lucius Malfoy, though. But then again, even my mom had one! He-he. Anyway, what I was really looking forward to seeing and what came as a massive blow when I didn't was the ending – the impromptu all-night Hogwarts feast as it was. I honestly thought that they would film it just like in the book instead of taking out several bits and leaving the actual fun part out! 

Harry had been to several Hogwarts feasts, but never one quite like this. Everybody was in their pyjamas, and the celebrations lasted all night. Harry didn't know whether the best bit was Hermione running towards him, screaming, 'You solved it! You solved it' or Justin hurrying over from the Hufflepuff table to wring his hand and apologise endlessly for suspecting him, or Hagrid turning up at half past three, cuffing Harry and Ron so hard on the shoulders that they were knocked into their plates of trifle, or his and Ron's four hundred points securing Gryffindor the House Cup for the second year running, or Professor McGonagall standing up to tell them all that the exams had been cancelled as a school treat ('Oh no!' said Hermione), or Dumbledore announcing that, unfortunately, Professor Lockhart would be unable to return next year, owing to the fact that he needed to go away and get his memory back. Quite a few of the teachers joined in the cheering that greeted this news. 'Shame,' said Ron, helping himself to a jam doughnut. 'He was starting to grow on me.'  (CoS, Chapter 18)

This is such an excellent scene! Would it kill them to film it just like that?

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

My first writing-related blog post in which I set out to discuss my current writing project but which led me to discussing writing as a source of ultimate self-indulgence instead

One of my writing-related resolutions this year is to be a constant and committed blogger that I've always wanted to be but for some reason never could. Actually, now that I come to think of it, there are quite a few reasons for that, but this post is definitely not about them. With that in mind, I've started making a list of topics I could or should write about — I'm not sure how many I'll come up with, because, let's face it, what hasn't already been written, discussed and dissected over and over again by better-versed people out there (I did come up with ten at least!) — so I've decided that the best place to start is to write about the writing project I'm working on at the moment. After all, this is something that no one else but me can write about. Of course, it's pure self-indulgence to write about something that no one else but me can possibly be interested in at this point, but that should hardly stop me, right? I mean, writing in general is self-indulgence incarnate — for isn't it why most of us write — to indulge one craving or another? 

To write about the kind of romance set in another place and time that we will never experience in real life, isn't that an indulgence of our desires? Or to write about something that gnaws or terrifies us in order to face it and deal with it if only on the pages of a book? Well, one has to start somewhere. Or to write about some social injustice that makes us really angry in the face of our powerlessness and inability to change it in order to draw other people's attention to it, hoping that by writing about it we will finally manage to make a difference? I believe we indulge ourselves with every line that we put down and, as far as I'm concerned, that's one of the most harmless but at the same time satisfying ways of indulgence out there. Maybe you disagree that writing is an ultimate source of self-indulgence. I hope you do. I would welcome a discussion in the comments section. But maybe you agree? That's even better! Do tell me what needs and desires have you been indulging writing-wise lately? 

However, back to the topic at hand (boy, I do have an awful tendency to digress, don't I?), which, by the way, is once again all about me indulging myself and creating the kind of characters, settings and romance that I can only dream about in real life. I'm currently working on another novel set in Regency England (my fourth one in this genre if anyone cares to know) in a fictional town of B-. I'm writing it in dual perspective mode, one chapter from the hero's perspective, another chapter from the heroine's perspective, which I hope will create a nice bit of tension, curiosity and uncertainty. I want chapters to contradict each other and readers to find themselves at a loss as to who to believe or sympathise with, based on the contradictory nature of information they receive from different quarters and opposing camps. I'm experimenting a lot here and I know that I'll have to do a ton of research once I've finished the first draft, but for now I'm indulging myself in bringing two very unlikely people, separated by age disparity, financial situation and position in society, together. 

I think the fact that this is not the first time that I'm working on this novel gives me an indisputable advantage by making me feel like I've come back to a place that I know as intimately as I possibly can. I know the characters, their backstory, their current story, their surroundings, their passions, their pet peeves, their friends and foes, and, of course, the setting that exists only in my mind but is slowly taking shape on the pages of the book that is yet to be. I have some very colourful characters here, some of them caricatures of truly unpleasant people I've met in real life (I sense a pattern of self-indulgence here). Luckily for me, on previous occasion, just before I decided to abandon the project yet again, I had enough common sense and circumspection to write down a more or less detailed outline of the novel and, having been visualising it for such a long time, I find writing it less of a challenge and more of an — well — indulgence, really.

So, now tell me...

Writing — the ultimate source of self-indulgence. Agree or disagree? via @faridamestek (Click to tweet)

Friday, 1 January 2016

How New Year celebration finally lost its magic for me... or not?

I have something of an obsession with New Year celebration – to hear me talk about it you'd think I still believe in Santa or something – and I think it's high time I looked the truth in the eye and re-evaluated my attitude towards it. So why not now? For years – despite all the evidence to the contrary – I've managed to convince myself to believe that it's a magical time of the year and that it should be celebrated with real pomp and gusto and with the table laden with food. I get really excited about a week before the celebration when it's time for the preparations to begin. In fact, I can spend the whole year thinking over and over again about something that will last less than an hour. 

Traditionally, my aunt cleans the flat and my mother puts up the New Year tree. In the meantime, my cousin and I make a list of presents we are going to buy as well as the festive menu that we are going to have; for some unfathomable reason it's essential for me that we have as many traditional New Year dishes on the table as we can possibly make, though we hardly go through half of them before we are full and sleepy and have to change into our pajamas, because our festive clothes have become too tight and uncomfortable. I think about the music we will listen or dance to (something we never actually do) and the films we will watch and I remain in the state of heightened excitement and anticipation even though I know that the only thing I will be getting (for example this year) is a pair or two of woollen socks, because that's all I've asked for. 

Naturally, once the actual celebration comes, it's swift and underwhelming. I become heavy with all the unnecessary food consumed at night, dizzy from a single glass of champagne (yeah, that's me) and kind of depressed when everyone goes to bed while the fireworks are still going off in the distance. I usually celebrate with my family and whenever we are all together I make sure to prepare some fun activities to enliven the traditional New Year celebration, which in our country in general seems to consist only of eating, drinking and watching TV. In this case the celebration lasts longer. 

This year half of my tiny family went to celebrate New Year elsewhere (to an actual themed party at a castle-like nightclub with their favourite music band no less!) and I remained at home with my mom. We could have gone downtown to watch the festivities there, but I couldn't imagine leaving our dog and cat alone, knowing how terrified animals are of fireworks. Surprisingly enough, our dog was more or less calm about them this year (having found her shelter in the bathroom) and my cat, who had never seen them before, was actually fascinated by the sight and kept avidly looking through the window in hopes of catching another colourful fountain of light erupting outside. 

Shortly after 11pm we thanked and said good-bye to the old year, shooing it out of the front door with our best regards, drank champagne, had some food, watched TV; an hour later we greeted the new year, exchanged presents, drank champagne, had some food (at which point my mom confessed that she could have done without the last helping of 'Оливье' commonly known as 'Russian salad') and watched some more TV. A slight snow was falling outside, creating a very New Year-y atmosphere. However, my mom fell asleep on the sofa with the book I had given her soon after that and when I woke her up to have some more champagne she said that she needed to have some proper sleep. I sighed but let her go. I stayed up a bit more, drank another glass of champagne and half an hour later went to bed too, feeling a great fit of dizziness coming over me. I woke up feeling calm and resigned. Apparently, I have finally grown out of my illusions.

P.S.: We had a short walk before breakfast and as we walked along snow-dusted streets surrounded by traditional peace and quiet of January 1st with sporadic explosions of fireworks that sent my dog back home I had some time to contemplate my reaction to this New Year celebration. I must say that if I'm completely honest with myself it's not all that hard to understand why I feel this way. Apart from having a ridiculous notion that something exciting and fantastic is going to happen, it all comes down to the fact that each year I make the same wishes and resolutions and then the year goes by and I look back and realize that I have to make the same wishes and resolutions all over again.

Don't get me wrong, I am profoundly grateful for health and relative financial stability of my family and I never forget to be thankful for that. However, there are other things that I want to have and accomplish and maybe I am asking too much but I just can't help feeling a tiny bit sad about it. So I'm going to make the same wishes and resolutions once more, because I have another excellent chance to fulfil them and I hope that I won't waste it again. Here is my annual pledge: I'm going to forge useful acquaintances, new friendships and lifelong partnerships both online and in real life; I'm going to keep looking for a literary agent, finish my current writing projects, establish my online presence and become a constant and committed blogger.

In the end, I must say that it was a very low-key, relaxed, pleasant celebration that predictably ended too soon, because neither me nor my mom are good at staying up all night. I'm already planning my next New Year celebration though and I think I'm actually going to do something different and fun. And this time I mean it!