Monday, December 9, 2019

Annual stocktake ....

So here I am, at the end of the world year, looking back at what I got up to, what I achieved, and what I didn't achieve. And looking toward 2020, wondering what it might hold for me. A stocktake is always interesting and useful.

I had four school visits. This is lower than recent years, and most of my invitations came directly, rather than through second parties (this is a complete 180 on previous experiences). I guess this may be a reflection of my publishing hiatus. Perhaps this might change now I'm back on an upswing. But its hard to be certain. In many ways I feel like I'm starting over again. But I'm not a beginner anymore. It's a little weird.

I was involved in several conferences, one 'Speed Date the Author' event, was invited to give a talk, ran two week-long, creative writing camps for school students, and two day-long picture book writing workshops for adults. There were a couple of other small unpaid gigs, and I mentored another writer over the year. I'm very familiar with public speaking, feel comfortable creating content for these events, and feel as nervous as if I was giving my first talk ever, every time. Yay nerves, my constant companion these last 'many mumble' years.

I titivated a few larger projects but didn't complete any of them, and wrote three new short stories and seven new picture books (result!). One picture book manuscript from 2018 found a home this year, and is one of two that will be published next year. I have a bunch of irons in the fire, and don't expect any further results until next year. I had one book out this year, Time Machine & Other Stories, of which I am very proud. Yay!!

I was involved again in Fabostory which is such a great way to get young people writing (also very proud to be a part of this), will be judging a picture book writing competition again over the summer break (194 entries - yikes!), and I've blogged, reviewed books for a few different platforms, and written a few articles. I interviewed somebody this year too which was a first for me. You can teach an old dog after all.  I threw my hat in the ring for a bunch of things such as speaking opportunities, residencies, and the like, and can report that so far I have had zero success. Hmm, I'll probably stop doing that for a while until I've licked all my wounds, and then get back to it.

So not too much of a slack arse then. But definitely a different combo of things this year. The only thing a writer really has any control over is the content they create, and turning up. The rest is all in other people's hands, with a dash of luck thrown in. I don't think I'd do anything differently. What about you? What did you get up to?

So, next year. As always, tis mostly a mystery. It will involve lots of waiting (see comment above re: irons in the fire) and frequent shaking of the patience jar to activate the contents. I have my regular Picture Book Writing Workshop and Write Like an Author Camp gigs and I'm booked in for an event mid year. I have a new writing project I want to work on, but I have some pre-project doubts and uncertainties, so I'll be girding my loins to try jump those hurdles. And that's it. That's all there is on the menu. I don't feel too worried. That's how things usually look at this time of year. And I don't have any big plans or strategies for things I think I should do. One thing I have learnt over the last few years is the value of writing retreats. I think I will try to book at least one of those in for 2020. Whaddaya reckon, retreat buddies?

Looking back at my last post (on overthinking) I don't really have many further survival strategies. At this time of year the most obvious one is to remind yourself that you have worked hard over the year (do a stocktake to remind yourself what you got up to), and it's important to take a proper holiday. Go relax over your favourite things to do, with your favourite people. Breathe deep and empty your mind. Recharge the batteries, read some books and smell the roses. If creating content is the thing we can control, we need to take care of our creativity. Ask yourself, what can you do for yours?

And last but by no means least, here is a really interesting insight on the topic of diversity and acknowledging our own blindspots when writing, by literary agent Janet Reid