Everyone hates the year 2016. The internet is full of people bidding the year adieu with a middle finger and a resounding “fuck off”.
The deaths of beloved icons who featured so strongly in our development such as David Bowie, Carrie Fisher and Alan Rickman have left us heartbroken. Our leaving of the EU with Brexit has left a large portion of the country shocked and worried. The US election pushing Donald Trump into one of the most powerful positions in the world has left much of the world genuinely terrified. 2016 has handed us some serious blows to the gut.
But for me personally?
2016 brought about some of the most wonderful events of my life.
In January 2016 a book I spent years of my life creating was released. My first novel; Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit. In the course of my life I wrote many books, most of them dreadful, most of them incomplete, but when I began the process of forming Magic Rabbit and the universe those characters inhabit I struck on something that was special. It warranted the development, the thought and learning that I put into it. They are characters I have known and loved and watched grow for longer than I have my own child. I have invested my heart into them. Breathed life into them. I love them.
It developed from a simple idea of a picture book into the first novel in a series that sees my readers laugh, gasp and cry, and was the launching point of an entire world of stories with my writing partner Jonathan McKinney.
Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit changed my life. I am now an author. I am legally registered as a working writer. My career may be small fry in comparison to the authors I admire and aspire to emulate the success of, but it’s a career. It is THE career and I am incredibly proud of it.
In February I nearly died. I was pregnant and contracted swine flu, and was rushed into hospital where I resided on high dependency in isolation with the man at my side planning how to break it to my parents and daughter that I had died.
This obviously sounds like a traumatic and terrible event but, clearly, I didn’t die. Not only did I not die but my baby didn’t die. Baby B survived, something nobody believed was possible.
Yes it was a traumatic event but we survived. We came through it. Miss Rose learned how to survive without me and became a stronger child for it, and The Boy and I found our relationship forged stronger than I knew it could be as he sat at my side in quarantine watching my heart rate drop, helping me use the toilet and cleaning up my vomit.
In July she arrived. A binding seal between two families brought together after two divorces. Baby B, my little wonder girl who shouldn’t have survived but did. My second daughter.
Watching Miss Rose develop as a person with a sister was a joy. She is devoted to her. Totally devoted. Cuddling and kissing her baby sister is a priority daily and she is incredibly proud of her, bragging to everyone we meet that she is a big sister.
My daughters. My golden girls. My joy, my true loves, my wonders.
And my biggest girl? She started formal education this year. It hasn’t always been easy but my goodness the girl has flourished. Her first parent’s evening I was told that resoundingly she is a true joy and that her teacher wishes she had a class full of her. Not one criticism or critique was offered. Not one suggestion for improvement. Nothing but praise and celebration and a big cuddle between student and teacher.
2016 has been eventful. It has been traumatic and sad and upsetting and hard and frightening. It is leading into a world where Trump is in power, beloved stars are absent. But 2016 has brought about some of my life’s most beautiful and wonderful events and I will never hold hatred for this year. The six month old baby currently suckling in my arms is enough to make 2016 a beautiful memory even without everything else.
Thank you 2016. Most hate you but I love you. Thank you.
You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.
Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!