It is the style in the blogosphere around this time to reflect on the previous year and to take lessons from it, instead of just using New Year’s Eve to wipe it all and start again like a normal person. Still, far be it from me to miss a chance to write a treatise on the year that was. I can moralise with the best of them, I’ve read Thomas Hardy. Mainly so you don’t have to (unless you’re a 12 year old girl, in which case you might enjoy the melodrama).
Anyway, in 2015, I:
Started a new day job ‘in communications’, which means writing news releases and blog posts, and chatting to journalists. It has been a steep learning curve so far, but an interesting one, and a long time coming.
‘Writing for a living’ has been my only career goal since I was about sixteen. I appreciate that sounds a bit woolly, so basically by that I mean either journalism or communications (also known as PR). I’ve written fiction throughout, but have always tried to be realistic about the fact that even if I get to the stage of being paid for my stories, they are unlikely to pay the rent. This isn’t me being self-deprecating, by the way, it’s me doing some research into the publishing landscape.
For instance, this article from last year points out that the median earnings of a professional author (defined as ‘someone who spends more than half their working life on self-employed writing’) were less than minimum wage, at £11,000 a year in 2013. The median earnings of all authors that year was £4,000. And of course if you’re self-employed, you don’t get sick pay, or holidays, or a pension.
If I can get to the point where I am making slightly less than minimum wage for working over 40 hours a week, I’ll actually be quite happy. But I’m not even near that level of publishing success yet, so in the interim there is a lot to be said for fitting your writing around a day job. In this one I get to tell stories, even if they’re not entirely my own.
Completed an online writing course via FutureLearn and the Open University. The main reason for this was to get feedback from someone I don’t live with and am not related to, which I’ve always found quite difficult to achieve. I am definitely in the market for a writing buddy, if anyone is interested. Anyway, I wouldn’t say there was much in there that was totally new to me, but it was an interesting exercise and there was a lot of practical advice. Plus it was free, woo hoo. It starts up again on the 18th of January and lasts 8 weeks, should you wish to give it a whirl.
Got married to a very good friend of mine, beside the sea on our seventh anniversary. It was pretty great. We met through writing, and there were lots of references to that in the ceremony, which I have yet to blog about but I will get there eventually. In the meantime, both our photographer Carley Buick and Rock N Roll Bride have got there already.
Read my work at the Edinburgh International Book festival through the UNESCO City of Literature Trust Story Shop Programme. It was a nice confidence boost, plus I got to meet lots of other writers, and now have a lanyard that identifies me as an author. You can find my story on their website.
Visited New York for our honeymoon, a mere four months after the wedding. We ate a lot of food, went on a bunch of walking tours, got slightly lost in Central Park, and even got mistaken for paedophiles because we visited a children’s museum without owning any kids. Turns out in the US, a children’s museum is not the same as Edinburgh’s awesome Museum of Childhood. Classic honeymoon bants.
Had one story accepted to a podcast, Lies, Dreaming. This is co-run by the aforementioned husband in a nepotistic fashion.
Had one novel and four short stories rejected. I’m expecting a fifth story rejection fairly soon too, as a friend who did get in has already heard back. I’m mentioning this not for sympathy but for balance. For every writing success, there is failure. Next year I am going to try and submit more – I’m hoping I’ll have more time, what with the wedding being out of the way – but that doesn’t mean my strike rate will be any higher.
And we moved house, which was terrible because moving house always is – but the experience did yield one of my more popular blog posts of the year. Every cloud, I guess.
Looking ahead to 2016 through the cheese coma of the festive season, I’ve got a few resolutions I may or may not stick to. Instinct says I probably shouldn’t write them down in case someone tries to hold me to them at a later date, but whevs. Chief amongst these is to finish the two novel ideas I’ve been faffing around with in the background for the past 12 months, and to find some beta readers for them. If you are interested in reading some sci-fi-lite nonsense for 8-12 year olds or yet another YA dystopia, get in touch and I’ll see if I can hook you up, ideally in the first half of the year. There is no financial recompense involved here, but I am happy to read stuff in return.