Posted by: Debrah Martin | December 29, 2013


thinkingThat terrible time is almost here – New Year’s Eve, and the time to set your resolutions to change in the forthcoming brand new year …

I find New Year’s Eve a fascinating and challenging time – partly because I write about transformation and change through my characters, and partly because  when I face it myself, I realise just how uncomfortable it is to take a really honest look at yourself and identify areas YOU should change. It’s easy to say ‘I’ll lose a stone’, ‘I’ll give up chocolate’, ‘I’ll start exercising/ saving/socialising/ being ambitious…’ All those ideals we think will make a difference to our lives, but overlook the biggest change of all, that makes any or all of them possible and sustainable – an inner change.

Now that is far more difficult to achieve.

I’ve just finished reading John Green’s Paper Towns. It was recommended to me by my older daughter, who is an avid fan of his, and I embraced the recommendation because it also coincided with my next big plan – to tackle some YA fiction myself since I wanted to give my teenage character Lily in Webs a far more comprehensive voice than I could allow her there. I can now say, having also read the Fault in Our Stars, that I am also a fan, but it dovetailed so perfectly with New Year and the challenge to face oneself and make changes that I had to blog about it all.

Margo in Paper Towns brings Q face to face with the realisation that we are all versions of how other people see us. We take on roles – mother, daughter, wife, friend – narcissist, extrovert, martyr – because people see us in that role, and we wind up acting up to it because  peer and social pressure makes it seem easier to conform than to conflict. line of people

(I also love the way John Green uses his writing to bring YA’s themselves into contact with other great literature – would many voluntarily read Whitman’s Song of Myself otherwise? But that is an aside).

The new year and it’s tradition of creating resolutions to hold onto gives us as much a chance to break free and follow our real path as Margo opts to do in Paper Towns. If I face the uncomfortable reality of what I really do when I interact with all the various people who make up the characters in my life, I realise that my interaction with them creates their interaction with me.

balancing woman

I reinforce what they expect of me, and therefore trap myself. We can all create paper towns with what we don’t do with our lives, but the new year gives us another chance to live in a real one of our making. We can easily blame other people for our mistakes, failings or dissatisfactions, but ultimately all of our contentment – or lack of it – with our lives derives from the choices we make – including continuing to play the role others expect to see us in.

This year I am going to choose my New Year Resolutions wisely, and no doubt they will include some of the more banal – the diet, the healthier lifestyle and so on –  but they won’t be specious promises, they’ll be realistic choices, including being the me I know me to be – like Margo finally chose to be by leaving home, and as Mary realises is the only way forward in Falling Awake; choices make lives and lives make choices … 

woman and umbrella

Happy 2014  and please do come and visit my website and see what is happening next with my novels:


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