life, writing

2013 in review

December is all but over, and as I rush to fit in the last few things I wanted to get done, and start planning ahead for the new year, it’s as good a time as any to stop and reflect on the year that was.

2013 was okay, looking back. It was a really hard year for me in a lot of ways – I admitted I was depressed, had a really hard year of study, struggled a lot with finding balance and worked on continuing to find my feet with home schooling.

There were also some good parts too – I actually got really good grades for those papers, despite not enjoying them at all, I managed to get two short stories published even though that wasn’t on my goal list for the year. I even had my baby teeth necklace make it’s way onto the cover of a book! (Yeah, I think that was my highlight lol). I attended Au Contraire and met a huge number of authors I’d previously only known online, which was amazing and inspiring and wonderful, and even managed a flying day trip to ‘retreat’ with some other writer friends. And on top of all that, I’ve made some super fantastic new writer friends, and strengthened other friendships as well.

Now that I look back on all of that, it’s actually been a kick ass year for being a writer. I owe so much to the wonderful people who are in this with me. You’re not just ‘writer friends’, your friends, and I couldn’t do this without you.

So how did I go on my original goals for 2013? It was going to be a year of ‘finishing”, and looking back, it feels more like they happened last year, but possibly because I got a couple things done really quickly. I read Perdido Street Station before the end of Jan, and finished The Artists Wayย before February was through. I didn’t manage to get onto Writing the Other though, mostly due to the fact that once study started, there never seemed enough time to really throw myself into the book.

Aside from those, I wanted to finish Sun-Touched and submit it, which I will be doing before the year ends, as well as finish The Way the Sky Curves (previously known as Shell and Bone, which is now the title of book two), and submit that as well. I’m not going to swing that this year, but I’m going to get that done before I launch into my last year of study.

I’m feeling a lot better about the year now ๐Ÿ˜€ It might have been hard, but there was a lot of awesome in there and I’m going to be heading into 2014 with those in mind. Onwards!

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Au Contraire 2013

I had hoped by now that I’d have something coherent and intelligent to say about my weekend away, but I really don’t feel like I do. It could take me another week, or more, to fully process the whole thing. But I thought it was better to say something, than nothing at all.

It was amazing.

I drove down to Wellington on Friday, stopping to catch up with a friend in Palmerston North on the way, and then arrived in Wellington a mere half hour before the Regeneration book launch. It was dark, and drizzly, and I went the wrong way, and then was doubling back when I managed to find a car park and decided to walk to the hotel as I thought it might be quicker (it was!). By the time I made it to there I was feeling pretty fragile and emotional, but I bumped straight into Anna and she showed me where the launch was. I saw some people I hadn’t seen in years, and finally met other people in person, and I signed books! (haha, it had never even crossed my mind that I might be asked to do that – super cool).ย ย It was kind of surreal, really! I grabbed a burger with Anna for dinner and then pretty much stayed in my room.

It was a big day. First time being so far away from my babies. First time in… over seven years that I’d been anywhere out of town that wasn’t visiting family. First book launch. All these people, and then on the other hand being alone, in a room, just me! Just, massive, on so many levels for me. The hibernation was super important because it meant I got my home sickness out of the way and Saturday I could launch myself into attending panels, meeting more people, having great conversations and just enjoying myself in general.

The most valuable thing for me, I think, was making those connections – finally getting to meet people face to face after years of online interaction, and having it more than confirmed that NZ is truly a great place to be a writer. I have always been an advocate for the groups that we have in NZ, for the work SpecFicNZ does, for the important conversations that need to happen to raise the general public awareness of the fantastic speculative fiction writers we have in NZ. Meeting up with all these writers really boosted that feeling.

These are really awesome people, awesome writers too, but awesome people who love what they do, who have unique ways of viewing the world and bring those to the page. And I got to soak that up through the weekend, both inside the Con and out by catching up with a couple of other writer friends who weren’t attending. It was amazing.

Where I live there are very few writers, and I certainly felt the loss on Monday when I had to pack up and come home. Oh well, there is always next year, right? lol I’m still working on getting ‘back to normal’ though it feels like it has gone out the window entirely. I’m hoping that next year I am actually capable of taking notes and making a more intelligent post, but this will have to do for now ๐Ÿ˜‰

If you’ve never been to some kind of convention or conference where you can connect with other writers, then I urge you to give it a shot. Making those writer connections is super awesome. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone, say hi to new people, ask questions, feast on the shared passion of writing. It’s totally worthwhile.

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Liebster Blog Award

The lovely Jennifer Neri named me as an award winner just the other day (Thanks, Jennifer!). She is a fellow writer-mum, and our youngest are only a few months apart, so I had the pleasure of following a similar path to her in 2010 when we had our babies – it was great to know someone else going through the same things at roughly the same times.

Anyway, here are the rules:

Upon receiving your Liebster award, you should:

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
2. Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you.
3. Copy and paste the blog award on your blog.
4. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed. (some say just 3 or more blogs of less than 200 followers each)
5. Let them know they have been chosen, by leaving a comment at their blog.

So, without further ado – I’m going to introduce the members of my official writers group! These folks are some of my staples in the writing world, in alphabetical order:

1) Anna Caro is someone who I have been staff with at a couple of writers orgs now, she’s a writer, a student, has a job and is passionate about many things – I really admire her drive, and her conviction to stand up for her beliefs. She is dedicated and hard working, in everything she does. This year she is focusing on finishing a novel.

2) Kerryn Angell is the founder of kiwiwriters.org and I’ve known her for five years now. She has been working steadily at her writing, and launched her new look blog last year. She is working on revising the novel she wrote last year, and vanquishing her editing demons.

3) Leigh K Hunt is possibly the newest edition to my writers crew, but trying to remember my writers life before she showed up is pretty difficult as we trade emails on a daily basis. This year she is joining in our big challenge, as well as having her first baby in the near future! Yay!

4) Merrilee Faber is an awesome writer, and at the core of my writing crew. She’s been one of the best writing buddies I could ever ask for, and is the instigator of Project 2012: From first draft to submission. You should totally check out her blog because there is a lot of fabulous info on there.

5) Tama Wise is the only male in my official writers group, but he does just fine. He has been the creator of many whacky writing games, which I am always drawn into, and I’ve really enjoyed writing alongside him for the last few years. He has his first novel coming out in March this year, and I may be more excited about it than he is ๐Ÿ˜‰ He is the first of our official group to get a novel published, but I don’t think he’ll be the last!

There are many other awesome writers out there who are part of my circle, all of them unique and wonderful in their own way. So even though I’m limited to five, I want to give a shout out to everyone else – love you all!

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Wrapping up the year

Well, it’s Christmas tomorrow, and then before we know it 2012 will be upon us. There are a bunch of things I would like to get done before then, but I just don’t think they are going to happen – too much fun to be had with the family to be stuck inside getting through my pile of work.

That said, I made my 20,000 word goal, and am feeling terribly excited about the novel. I will find ways to eke out a few words here and there so that I don’t lose this newly reformed daily writing habit, but I don’t imagine I’ll be getting time for more than a few hundred words a day.

I’d like to note that this is the most I have written on a new project in just over two years. It feels amazing to be powering ahead with a novel after so many months spent working in the short form. While I’ll always have a fondness for shorts, and I think that the learning I had from them has really improved my writing in general, I am finding a novel a very exciting thing to be working on.

It’s been a pretty good year all around. School went well for Ivy, I started going to Playcentre with Lauren and Natalie who are loving the stimulation. We’re all making new friends, which is fabulous. I’ve reclaimed some time for myself, both in regards to my writing and also by doing some study towards becoming a counselor. The rekindling of old dreams has been a real bonus this year, and not something I had foreseen. It’s a welcome change, and I feel really good about the way it’s subtly shifted things in our family.

I’ve learned that my husband is more than I had ever hoped for. Which isn’t to say that I had low expectations, but rather that I tend to think I should just handle everything in the world on my own and don’t ask for help as often as I could. This year he was straight with me about a few difficult things, in a tactful and kind way, and he has also been a huge enabler of me creating change in my life. I wonder if perhaps we’ve been together long enough now that he’s comfortable challenging my boundaries.

When I tried to back pedal out of doing the course this year, he was very firm about the fact that I WAS going to attend. None of my excuses made a dent in his wall of faith in me. Now, when I start to make noises about getting writing done, he often takes himself off, knowing how easily distracted I am. It is his quiet support that I appreciate. His faith in me (no matter how many extra things I decide to take on) that I can do whatever it is I’ve set out to do. That I will make the time for my passions, my work, and still be the best parent I know how, and the best wife. I don’t see how life could ever be bad with a man like this at my side. I had no expectations of who we would grow into as a couple, but wow, I am thrilled with the way our marriage is developing.

Our girls are growing too. Ivy is maturing in ways that I couldn’t have predicted, I’m so proud of her, and really delighted with the potential I see. I’m worrying less about the teen years now, because I think by then she’ll have worked through the kinks that other kids are usually just starting to address. She’s so vibrant and vivacious, she draws people to her everywhere she goes. She has such a lust for life, and I hope that’s something she gets to keep forever.

Lauren is a delight, as always. She’s blows me away with the way she looks at the world. The way she gives compliments for the sake of it. I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone in my life who so frequently tells me that I’m beautiful, or that they think I have pretty eyes/hair/clothes/whatever else, that they love me and think I’m wonderful. That level of love and kindness used to be so hard for me to accept, but hearing it from her has made it easier to accept compliments in general.

And Natalie… Well. The baby of the family, that hasn’t been a baby for almost as long as I can remember. Can you believe she is one and a half already?? She never ceases to make me smile. She is just so cheeky, so adorable that it’s hard to be grumpy, even when she’s peeing on the floor or trashing whatever she has come across in her explorations of the house. She is a thrill seeker, and an adventurer, through and through – definitely one that I need to keep an eye on ๐Ÿ˜‰

So we’re ending the year like this. Happy, content, excited, growing, maturing, exploring and enjoying the bounty that we have. Because we are blessed.

You probably won’t hear from me until 2012, but I want to say Merry Christmas, and have an awesome New Years Eve. Celebrate everything that happened this year and welcome in the new one with gusto, because it’s going to be amazing. I hope I’ll see you back here in January. Stay safe, and enjoy!