I'll be back with some more substantial posts - I promise. For now, let me wish everyone Happy New Year.
For me, it will be my first year in a new home since ... well ... 1990. Jenny and I lived in our Montague Street house in Melbourne for 20 years, so it was a big wrench to move from it. There are many memories associated with that house, not least of some wild and wonderful New Years' parties.
However, we're now happily installed in the new house. The only problems are that we still have about 35 of the original 100 boxes to unpack, our cat seems to have been reprogrammed to be much more nocturnal (leading to some sleepless nights for us), and of course there are people in Melbourne whom we already miss. But we'll be visiting you guys ... and expecting visits in return!
Big thanks to Amanda Pitcairn and John Earle for seeing in the New Year with us last night (and in fine style). Frantic waves to Alison Goodman and Ron Gallagher, whose party we would have gone to if we'd been in Melbourne - hope it went well, guys.
My grand project for 2010 is the Next Book. There's some interest in this Out There in publisher land, but not a contract as yet, so I'll wish myself good luck with it and hope that it comes to fruition. There's a lot of work to do before I can start writing seriously, although I already have a lot of rough material lying around to draw upon. The book is meant to be a philosophical examination of the concept of freedom of religion - a very ambitious topic, though this particular book will be relatively short and introductory, not some huge, comprehensive, bug-crushing tome. The difficulty won't relate so much to the actual writing of it. Like most people with solid professional writing experience, I can write fast when I really need to. It's more the project of making sense of the literature that already exists, including the voluminous, and ambiguous, American case law. Some of the issues are contentious and emotional, and I already know that my tentative views will not only not please everyone ... as a matter of fact, they won't entirely please anyone.
Still, that's all ahead at the moment.
Looking back at 2009 ... it was an extraordinary year at my end. It involved three overseas trips, one of them six weeks long; the publication of a book (50 Voices of Disbelief) that is undoubtedly my most important so far; meeting many wonderful people and making new friends; some high-profile speaking and media engagements; shifting house by about 1000 kilometres; and ... unfortunately, quite a lot of illness. The heavy travel schedule in the second half of the year really knocked me around, partly, it seems, because I have some allergic reactions that tend to trigger bronchitis. I'm fine now, but wondering how much overseas travel I should be risking in the future.
I'm hoping for a quieter year in 2010, focused on (a) much high-quality time with the people I love and (b) getting a helluva lot of good work done. I have no particular resolutions apart from my perennial ambition to lose a few kilos. The tasks are pretty much set out for me at this stage, but we'll see what happens. My next public appearance will be on John Safran and Father Bob Maguire's JJJ radio program this coming Thursday evening, 7 January, and we'll take it from there.
Best wishes to all my friends and loved ones. May you do things that astound the world - preferably in a good way.