This year was gargantuan. Just not for my writing. I went into the year expecting very little in the way of writing progress but I think I’m still a little shocked by it. I look back at my year’s list of things to do and laugh at how bloody naive and optimistic I was:
- Finish “The Forgotten Children of Zurat”, edit and submit (novella length); Well, first draft is finished, but I didn’t edit it. Or submit obviously.
- Edit at least two of the short stories I started last year that I think have a lot of promise, and submit; I think I managed this one.
- Finish and submit the two collaborative short stories I’m involved in; One yes, the other is still a WIP.
- Attend GenreCon in October; Nah, just floated around the edges thanks to being disorganised.
- Submit an Expression of Interest for the QLD Poetry Festival; Nope.
- Attend QPF and BWF; I attended one QPF event.
- Ensure Furious Writer Drinks remains a “thing”; Hmmm. It is *something*.
- Do more beta reads / critiques; Not really.
- Daily journalling; Hahaha nope.
- Learn how to create linocut art; Nope.
- Explore the idea of an art exhibition. With what time???
I also have some non-creative goals:
- Do that pesky obstacle course race; Nope.
- Increase my unbroken run distance to 8km; All the nope.
- Camping with all the children; Dear gods was I insane?
- Nurturing new and existing connections. This one, I was good at.
Honestly, I aimed way too high. What I should have written was “survive first year of uni without breaking too many things”. That said, I am hoping to edit Zurat over the summer break.
So! I started my Masters of Information Science (Library and Information Practice) and there was a very steep learning curve to fit in study with family and other commitments. At the start of the uni year we had a death in the family. I dropped from 4 subjects to 3. And I started to find my feet.
I wrote a couple of stories during semester one. Semester break let me breathe but before I knew it I was right back to it. And semester two was even more intense (still 3 subjects). I did no writing at all.
I had planned to do summer semester to make up for the lost ground but I knew I needed to take a break over the summer. I’d been functioning at such a high level most of the year that I suspected I would crash and burn spectacularly at some point if I didn’t pause. And it was definitely a good decision. In the couple of months since semester 2 finished I’ve been getting through my to-do list, cleaning up and submitting stories, and rekindling old passions.
I ended up with four high distinctions and one distinction (the other subject is ongoing). Extremely happy with that! My GPA is currently 6.8. In addition, I have some idea of my career direction now and have far more ambition than I did at the beginning of my degree.
Creatively, the year was difficult. I had 2 poems published and 3 original stories. I also had several reprints selected for Year’s Best and Best Of anthologies. Compared to the previous year, it feels a little like maybe I could have tried harder. But my focus was on doing well at uni, not neglecting my children completely, and not imploding. So, I had to make sacrifices.
Obviously running was one of those sacrifices. Look at my running nosedive. Sigh. I’m restarting and the fitness is coming back quicker than I could have hoped so I’m relieved about that. I’ve taken up rock-climbing, and I’m actually pretty good at it!
I managed a little bit of art. And uni even gave me inspiration for mashups like the one below, hooray!
So, to my achievements for the year:
- “He Dreams of Salt and Sea” published at Apex magazine;
- “An Ending, A Beginning” published at Australian Poetry Journal online;
- “Caesura” published in the Lane of Unusual Traders;
- “Three Trophies” published in SQ Mag;
- “Going Home Sideways” published in Dimension6;
- “Chasing the Storm” mentioned in Ellen Datlow’s recommended reading list for Best Horror of the Year Volume 7;
- “Kneaded” selected for reprint in both Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction and Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2014;
- “Chasing the Storm” selected for inclusion in SQ Mag’s 2014 anthology Star Quake 3;
- “The Minotaur’s Tale” selected for inclusion in The Best of Luna Station Quarterly The First Five Years;
- I did a feature set at Speedpoets in April;
- Sold another story TBA in due course;
- Sold a reprint poem (“Heat, Flies and Cane Toads”) to the Poetry and Place anthology;
- Recorded my first solo audio poem.
My feature set at SpeedPoets in April was one highlight of the year. I had an absolute ball.
I was also thrilled by some of my publications this year (well, all of them, of course, but there is a certain squee factor to some).
Personally the year was mostly good. My son finally received a diagnosis of ASD (autism spectrum disorder). The older he gets the more noticeable his challenges become, so for us it wasn’t a surprise, and is instead a positive step toward getting him the therapy and support he needs.
He started drawing vaguely people-shaped things.
He’s learned to count to 10, can somewhat sing the alphabet, and other nursery rhymes, thanks to youtube. Ah youtube, the bane of our existence.
My eldest turned 11 this year. She took part in a drama competition called OptiMinds, in a group of kids from her school. The challenge was to come up with a play and props without any adult help. The group won the Spirit of Minds award.
She also did amazingly in the end of year school play, as a character with a huge speaking role (which she learned with no problems). One of her artworks received a highly commended in her grade level at the Brookfield Art Show.
My middle child turned 8. She started drum lessons, which she LOVES.
Her report card stated “she is one tiny girl with a huge amount of drive and determination”. And yes, I would absolutely agree with that. Don’t underestimate this one based on size! She co-starred as Puss in Boots in her school play (the part was shared because it was the biggest speaking part. She worked super hard to memorise her lines and performed fantastically).
Her reading has picked up to the point where she is now reading chapter books. A massive breakthrough and I am so happy that she was given the space to develop her skills in her own time.
I got a semester contract working at my university library. That was a huge boost and taught me some valuable skills. And yes, I can get a job even with dreadlocks!!
Made a lot of progress in the school library. I’m only a volunteer but I basically run the library, and with the help of some of the other fabulous parents we managed to do a lot.
I certainly didn’t feel as much a part of the Brisbane SFF writing scene as I have in previous years. That’s a result of my focus on uni, I know, but as I take stock of the year I do have some regrets. I did have a big fear that I would have to let my writing go for a time and I think this has come to pass. While I am still writing (kind of) and being published I have other things to occupy me, and I wonder if I have already peaked and will now slowly drift out of the scene and people will forget about me. It’s on me not to let that happen, I know.
I’m not going to write much about other people. The ones who have had my back this year know who they are. From sanity-saving emails, to coffee dates, to critiques, to cheer-leading, to Facebook message check-ins, to drinks, to lengthy chats, to sleep ins, to hugs, to putting up with incoherent rambles. Thanks, you lot, you’re all awesome!
It’s difficult to pick a favourite pic from this year. My hard work resulted in good grades, rather than a triumphant beach selfie. While I could post a screenshot of my academic history, that feels a little silly. There were so many good parts to this year. But maybe my birthday marked a bit of a turning point. For the first time in many years I enjoyed the crap out of my birthday. I had no fears of turning 37, and it was marked by little fuss and a lot of fun. I feel, finally, like I have a positive future to look forward to. And for someone who less than 3 years ago was facing some very dark demons, that’s a massive thing to be able to say.
So, 2015’s photo is my 37th birthday photo. Because 37 feels pretty good. And 2015 was the best year I’ve had in a very long time.