So this is the fag end of the year and what a year it has been: so many deaths of notables, so many political catastrophes. I am not optimistic about world peace, the economy or the publishing industry. It is too easy to be depressed. Tomorrow I will travel to my grandmother's funeral. Perhaps it is perverse to draw solace from that, but I do. She died at 102 having endured two world wars, the deaths of two husbands, a brother, a sister and a daughter and still she went down fighting. I'm very sad of course because I loved her dearly, but I am all too aware of my privilege. I knew my great-grandmother, who didn't die until I was sixteen, and I had my grandmother as a wise and witty presence in my life until my own middle age. Perhaps my generation of women in the UK is uniquely privileged in that we have not yet experienced the kind of massive loss of life that dogged my grandmother's generation. We have the privilege of grieving for Bowie and Cohen and all those many others because for us death is not an every day fact of our living. Relatively few of us get to the end of every day grateful for our continued survival. I find this oddly comforting.
So maybe we live on the end of the precipice: global warning may get us yet or Trump may push the button. I write dystopian fiction and it is not beyond my imagination to see this Christmas as our last. If that's the way it is going to be let's live as if this year is the only year we will ever have. Let's write every book as if it is the only chance we'll ever have to say what we most want to say. Let's hug our loved ones close; delight in every sunset and celebrate every dawn. Every generation has feared the end times. What fuels art but rebellious joy in the face of fear and desperation.
And yet my grandmother made it to 102. Let's live each day as joyously as if it is our last and as hopefully as if we have a hundred years still in us. Happy New Year!