2012 Part Two
The end of one year and the beginning of the next compels us to do some sort of evaluation of the previous twelve months, together with looking forward to the twelve to come. As I wrote at the end of my previous post, I knew I had been busy but didn’t realise 2012 had been so action-packed. My sense is that things calmed down slightly in the second part of the year, but let’s put July to December under the spotlight and see if that’s the case.
- Two weeks in the hot sunshine of the Algarve inevitably meant a quieter month on the writing front. But I read a lot, and lounging by the pool, also managed to write the first draft of my commissioned short story. I was paired with Great Barr readers’ group and I’d visited them just before my holiday, and together we’d come up with ideas for ‘our’ short story. My visit took place on one of the wettest days of the wettest year (I scarcely made it up the M5) and rain and flooding play a major role in the story. The story begins: Rain lashed the skylight. Amy looked up from her laptop, as lightning splintered the night’s blackness above. It had been raining all day, but this ferocity was new. To write these words in temperatures of 38 degrees was a surreal experience.
- August proved to be one of the sluggish months of the year. I’d intended my focus to be my new novel, but somehow the days passed and I failed to make much progress. I try not to belive in writer’s block, but I was definitely struggling.
- I began a series of workshops at the Barber Institute of Art in Birmingham led by writer in residence, Andy Killeen to write stories inspired by cities. I was with a lovely group of people and the Barber is an inspiring place, but still I struggled, and was now juggling two short stories and a novel that wouldn’t reveal itself!
- Determined to break my writing deadlock, I began an alphabet blogging challenge – writing a post each day for 26 days, and taking each letter of the alphabet as the stimulus for that day’s theme on some aspect of reading and/or writing.
- This month, I also went to Great Barr reader’s group and read them my story A Dream Job. It received a really good reception. Some members said it was better than a lot of stories on Radio 4. It might have been kindness, but they seemed genuine!
- At long last, I started to make progress with my novel. I created a detailed plot outline and firmed up my characters. I had a brainstorming meeting with two editors from Cornerstones Literary Consultancy to talk through my ideas. This proved to be incredibly stimulating and productive and I cam home on the train with my mind buzzing with new ideas. In the next few days, I rejigged parts of my plot outline and now feel more secure in its direction. I also realised the title Two Minutes from Eros was skewing my ideas, and I now have a new provisional title The Long Way Round.
- October was a busy month getting this term’s writing classes off the ground. I enjoy teaching creative writing – not only do I meet interesting, talented people, but I can also immerse myself in the craft of writing and I’ve learnt so much as a result.
- This month I was invited to take part in the Writers’ Toolkit in Birmingham, a writers’ networking day. I was part of a panel talking about opportunities for support and development for writers. I was asked to talk about my experience of being a writer, and what had helped my writing career develop. This was a stimulating day with lots of different topics and speakers. It was great as well to catch up with some of my Room 204 colleagues.
- Publication of A Blackbird Sings, an anthology of small stones from last January’s challenge – and two of my stones are in it!
- November also saw the launch of the anthology of the six commissioned short stories. Wow! What an amazing event. Nearly one hundred people crowded into a room at the Copthorne Hotel in Birmingham. Each of the six writers was asked to talk about the experience of writing a story to a commission and to read an extract from their story.
- At the end of the month, I was invited to an event where the 42 group (one of the spoken word groups in Worcester’s thriving writing community) planned to read 42 pieces of flash fiction and I was asked to read three of mine, along with Calum Kerr. It was strange to hear myself being called the queen of flash fiction! If only!!
- Phew, nearly there! The big event for December was the launch of A FLASH OF FICTION, an anthology of some of the entries for the WLF flash fiction competition. Putting the anthology together was a huge amount of work which Polly and I tackled together, but it’s one I think we can be proud of, as I hope all the contributors also are.
So, that’s it. Sorry it’s a bit long. Hope it doesn’t read like one of those Christmas round robin letters that are full of how wonderful everybody and everything is/has been/and will be. I’ve had some down times and some disappointments, but I’m astonished at the number and variety of events, opportunities and exciting things that have happened in 2012. I’d be hard pushed to pick one highlight from them all. Hope you’ve enjoyed reliving some of them with me, and I’d love to hear some of your achievements for 2012.
I’m certainly looking forward to 2013 and hope it proves as interesting and exciting as 2012. How about you?!