Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Year in Review

It's that time again when we pause and look backwards to see how we've fared. As this blog is now given over to writing and associated musings I wont go back over things of a personal nature - though I'm finding it hard sometimes to decide where a certain blog post would go (which was the beauty of having one combined blog where everything could go).

Rather than choose to have a list of resolutions or goals in 2008, I decided to pick and theme and to live my life by that instead. The theme I chose was AUTHENTICITY. Almost twelve months on it seems to be both a foreign idea and a familiar concept. In terms of writing, authenticity meant being true to my calling as a writer. Firstly to call myself a writer and establish with friends, family and strangers alike that it is my vocation. It still feels weird when I am introduced by others as a writer or when people ask 'what do I do' and I reply 'I'm a writer - and a Mum.' Neither are more important than the other so I make a point of mentioning both. Without becoming a mother I would never have realised (or perhaps it would have just taken a hell of a lot longer) my dream of being a writer and without writing I probably wouldn't deal with the rigours of motherhood.

Secondly it meant turning up to the page. For most of the year I've written morning pages every day - though this habit sadly went by the way during November and I haven't yet managed to reclaim it, even though I miss it sorely. I wanted to committ something to the page each week for [Fiction] Friday but I felt keenly the drain of writing short stories, of coming up with new characters and scenarios. I tried numerous tricks, books, prompts but midway through the year my creativity seemed to dry up. My creativity is back and I am also spending time rewriting and working old stories ready for publication somewhere?

Which is a beautiful segue into - thirdly, authenticity meant getting published. Sitting around on my hard drive or reaching a limited audience through this blog isn't enough. I sold my first ever piece of work with relative ease in March with the publishing of my first short story 'Demon Lover' through the Getting Hitched website. I ended the year with a rejection of my short story 'Deck the Balls'! I embarked on a self publishing endeavour with Annie to create Reclaiming Sex After Birth: the survival guide. It is probably the most difficult, demanding and ultimately rewarding project that I have ever been part of. And the journey will continue into the new year.

Authenticity as a writer has almost meant this year recognising that I will never truly be happy just as a writer. There is an innate pull towards publishing for me. There was an offer this year to do editorial work for a fleghling magazine which after lots of consideration I turned down - not wanting to be consumed and working for someone else's dream.In giving up Down to Birth, space opened to conceive new publishing projects - two of which are simmering impatiently on the back burner waiting for their birth in 2009. Replacing my passion to support the homebirth community (which will in essence never totally die) has been a committment to support up and coming writers, which these two projects do. Undoubtedly you will hear more about them very soon.

It's also meant investing in myself as a writer. This year I bit the bullet and became a member of the Queensland Writers Centre and attended The World Building short course run by Sonny Whitelaw in preparation for the National Novel Writing Month. There were others courses I would have liked to have participated in - such as the short story critiquing course but holidays and others piece of life got in the way. I spent a wonderful three days in Byron Bay during the Writers Festival which is most definitely one of the high lights of my professional year.

Authenticity for me has finally meant letting go of preconceived ideas of what it means to be a writer - namedly that writing is a solo activity. I've had the honour of collaborating with Annie Evett on two projects and Paul Anderson on one - with Captain Juan being the highlight of my writing year. The crazy pirate story was my creative life blood during my drought mid year and I look forward to spending more time aboard the La Gongoozler in 2009 side by side with Annie, Paul and the motley cast of many.

Aside from the theme of authenticity I did have some concrete goals. Firstly I wanted to have two fiction and two non fiction pieces published - which was almost achieved within the first few months of the year. Writing my final editorial for Down to Birth in late January was not my final contribution this year - with two more articles published there and another article published in the GAIA newsletter. I didn't make up the second fiction publication as a magazine I submitted to didn't end up going to print. I have a couple of short stories in the wings that I will pursue publication for in the new year.

Secondly I wanted to learn to build a website. It's something that I've always wanted to learn and I got to learn by default through the Reclaim Project. I see writing and web design going hand in hand and it puts me in good stead for the projects that are waiting to see the light of day in the new year.

Lastly I wanted to participate in NaNo again this year and am thrilled with the outcome, almost 52,000 words and completed in 24 days. Most importantly though the fact that I want to continue to write the manuscript that I started. Blue Melissae will hopefully be my first completed manuscript in 2009.

All in all - it's been a bit of a biazarre and very definitely a '1' year where I've oscillated between feeling as though I've achieved nothing and done more than I could have ever anticipated. I'm not even sure if I feel as though I'm out of my cocoon that I went into at the beginning of the year, but do get the feeling that I am nibbling my way out ready to emerge into something bigger and better.

So what for 2009? More on that tomorrrow.

Image is the authenticity mandala from Beth Budesheim and can be found at Painted Journeys

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