A Long, Long Year

I want to write an update on life and writing and everything quite literally in between, but I’m having trouble knowing where to start…

Flicking through past blog posts, I can see that NaNoWriMo last year didn’t quite go to plan for me. After that, in December 2016, I tried to take a break. That didn’t quite work out either. I’d been so heavily involved in client work, I’d built up a ton of momentum and found the sudden stop incredibly jarring.

Next, the come-down happened. Burn out from doing too much for too long hit me once I finally stopped and took a breath. I think I allowed myself three whole breaths before New Year hit and I was right back to expecting the world from myself.

I wanted to hit 2017 running but found that I couldn’t go straight back into top gear having stopped the engine for a bit. So I beat myself up for a while, wrote a couple of stirring blog posts about how I was determined to do better. And then I got married, which of course was wonderful but also a bit of a whirlwind that left my head spinning. Months of building up to a single event can kind of have that effect.

Home from honeymoon, I told myself ‘this is it, time to be serious now, get back to work for real.’ So I threw myself into the Women Aloud NI events in March. I had a birthday, and then a little bit of a breakdown in which I admitted to the world just how sick my new husband was/is and how burnt out I was still feeling.

I carried on caring for him, and battling the government on his behalf, and trying to keep up the level of client work I’d been doing before, and trying to write and everything else. And the writing was pushed to the side because I didn’t have the time or the energy, and I felt worse and worse about that. (Writing keeps me sane, I swear. When I can’t do it, I really come apart at the seams.)

During that time – May until like September – client work became increasingly stressful and time-consuming to the point where I snapped and couldn’t do it anymore. I had pushed aside practically all of my clients to work on one main contract and it became too much, so I quit, leaving myself with no income from my business.

I actually stopped operating as a business somewhere along the line, knowing that I needed to focus on my craft as an artist.

The lead singer of my favourite band died during this time, too. A big part of the band that had got me through my teenage years without killing myself killed himself. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I could barely think, much less write.

Then a big relief came when my husband won his welfare appeals, and we finally were able to get the pet we’ve always wanted.

And then I got swept up in launching Belfast Writers’ Group’s two new short story anthologies.

And now I’m here, about to start NaNoWriMo 2017. I had hoped that I would be going into this year’s writing challenge with the backing of the Arts Council, but I have just gotten word that they have turned down my application for funding.

So, I’m going to redraft my novel anyway; not doing much client work or taking a wage besides. I am going to write and relax and try not to traverse any further into burn out territory.

Not gonna lie, I’m exhausted before I even begin this next leg of my journey. Please, please wish me luck.

End of Year Reading and Writing Audit 2016

Before I let myself get too carried away with excitement for the new year, I thought I should wrap up the one that’s coming to a close. For context and comparison, here is my ‘year in review’ post from 2015.

Earlier in 2016, you might remember I carried out what I called a “literary audit.” Since then, I’ve been keeping much better track of what I write. It’s been good to look back and it certainly makes posts like this a heck of a lot easier! Anyway, without further ado…

This month I wrote 4,000 words. During the entire year, I wrote over 100,000 – can’t say exactly because, like I said, I only started taking note part way through the year (it was 95,000 words total, April – December). I do know I wrote 55,000 words of fanfic (January – December) and a hell of a lot of poetry.

December saw me devouring four audiobooks, a Kindle short, and a novel-length fanfic, leaving my books read for the year at 54 (off a goal of 45). Goodreads have laid all my stats out in a handy chart, here.

Personal Highlights for Twenty Sixteen:

Finally, 2017 Goals:

  • Get married
  • Read 50 books
  • Join the Society of Authors
  • Get a literary agent
  • and a cat
  • Take an official proofreading course

Also: In a bid to catch up on my ‘to be read’ pile, I’ve decided to not buy any new books for the first six months of 2017. I can still loan out books from the library, however, and I’m allowing myself to continue getting one audiobook a month during this time.

I am so excited for this!

2015: A Year in Review

Engagement RingSince re-launching this website way back in January, I have written forty-seven blog posts (including this one). That’s way more than I’ve written, across the three separate blogs I used to run, in the last few years combined.

Also this year, I’ve written just over ninety thousand words of fan fiction, and a totally unknown amount of other words in poetry, and novels, short stories etc (the fanfic word count is a lot easier to keep track of).

With regards reading, my final stats for the year sit at a total of forty-six books read off a forty-book target.

In the month of December, I listened to one audiobook (You’re Never Weird on the Internet… Almost, by Felicia Day), read two novel-length fanfics, finished a third, finished The Horologicon, and read Where She Went cover to cover.

In 2015, I re-released Wake as a second edition, released Four Season Summer and Season’s End in a combined paperback edition, had a book launch for that paperback, received awards for my fan fiction, entered writing competitions, re-launched my YouTube channel, took part in April’s CampNaNoWriMo, July’s Camp NaNo, and the official National Novel Writing month in November.

Meanwhile, in my personal life, I took a few more trips to England, met the love of my life, and got engaged. All that considered, I think it’s been a pretty great year. Roll on 2016!