Firstly, happy Christmas and a prosperous new year to you all! I hope you have a restful but enjoyable time with people you love. I hope you're keeping warm.

As I reflect on the past few months, I realise how joyful I am to be back at home in London. Over time I have come to appreciate family and friendships more and more.

The protagonist in my novel loves his family too. He likes people in general. When he chats with people, one can tell that he puts great effort into the interaction. He makes eye-contact and he is always careful to look interested. He asks thoughtful questions. Sometimes it all comes across as a very well-rehearsed performance.

Now contrast that with the fact that he is so engrossed in his own goals, that he actually does not see anyone else. Though he is well-practised in holding conversations with people, more often than not, he does not hear what is being told to him. His thoughts are primarily about himself, and those that aren't about him actually are about him. They're only disguised as empathy, he deceives even himself. His goals consume him - goals to get further, to be better, to feel better, to say better.

It is so easy for me to fail to notice that others are pushing through the vicissitudes of their lives too. This Christmas, I must make an effort to be aware of this. I must go out of my way to look outwardly - to actually do this I must go out of my way to remind myself to do this. I must actually see the people I come across. And those I don't come across, but that I know are there, I must see them too. This Christmas, I must think about those who aren't keeping warm, or who aren't feeling the joy that I feel.

In contrast to the characters I might write about in a novel, I can notice my flaws and seek to change right away. But what a boring novel it would make if the characters noticed and resolved their flaws after a few minutes of reflective thought. Instead I shape a whole novel around this journey: a journey of conflict, of falling apart then eventual redemption and reconciliation. Weaknesses, and then the overcoming of these is where we derive much of our enjoyment in novels.