I love the sense of punctuation that comes with the new year. A paragraph break or, as the clichés would have it, a new chapter. My 2010 has been a memorable and important writing year and now closes satisfyingly, with not with a full stop, but perhaps an exclamation mark. Here are the brief highlights:
The most breathtaking part of 2010 was taking my novel ‘The Night Rainbow’ from a sketchy outline to a first draft, then through subsequent drafts to submission and on to being agented and then very quickly to being read by publishers. I worked hard at this book this year; I was resolved to keep up the momentum and be submitting a serious, polished novel by the end of the summer. I was lucky to have some very sharp beta readers, as well as friends and family that supported my commitment to this work. I need to say a big thank you to everyone who has offered up suggestions, encouragement and the occasional kick up the bum. It has all paid off better than I dared hope and I truly believe this novel has a bright future.
I hope if you’re a writer reading this who has been with me on the journey so far, that you are encouraged by the possibilities that are clearly out there. We will have none of this ‘publishing is a closed shop’ naysaying, thank you very much.
2010 was also my renaissance year for short stories. I’ve found that crafting a short story scratches an itch, improves my writing and encourages me in the long haul of novel writing. It’s also a great way to test the waters and see if others genuinely like what you write. From the competitions I entered last year I had a brilliant run of results. A major highlight was being shortlisted in the 2010 Bristol Prize and going over to the awards ceremony where I met some wonderful and inspirational writers and just generally had a brilliant time. Silly as it may sound, seeing my story in print in an actual book was such a boost to my esteem as a writer as I trudged through the final edits of my novel. The BSSP4 is looking bigger and even better for 2011, by the way, so get writing!
On top of BSSP3 I was also shortlisted in the 2010 Sean O’Faolain Prize by the fabulous Tania Hershman and in the 2010 New Scientist Flash Fiction Competition, with Neil Gaiman judging the shortlist. How much excitement can one writer have in a year?
In other news:
Welcomed Warmly To: Fictionaut. A fantastic community of short story writers and flash-fictionauts. It’s been a joy to mine the rich seam of creative writing here and get to know the writers. Will I ever catch up with the pieces I’ve missed? It seems unlikely, but at least I know where to find a guaranteed and inspiring good read when in need.
Tried and Liked – Twitter. I started tweeting at the end of 2009 and by 2010 had firmly joined a community of writers where those of us still on the road to publication out ourselves and offer support and encouragement. Meanwhile kindly authors, agents and editors share tips and chat. As long as I limit myself, and log off when I’m writing, Twitter has been really productive and helpful, as well as lots of fun.
Tried and Not So Keen: Book reviewing – I did some of this over the summer and realised that it isn’t something I enjoy doing at all. I don’t think I enjoyed the books as much as I would have if I had read them with no other pretext. In reviewing novels I felt half way between a reader and an editor and really, I just wanted to be a reader. I have a whole new-found respect for book reviewers, and whilst the process was instructive I think I’ll be leaving that to others in the future.
And 2011? Well that’s a whole new story…
Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and every success in 2011.