Well, 2017 was a crazy ride wasn’t it? As we stand on the threshold of 2018 I’m hearing my friends
|At the Society of Authors/Writers in Oxford
party at Balliol College
But the solstice has passed. Days are still dark but we are turning towards the sun. Now is the time of beginnings, of new edifices built on old foundations.
When I look back on my 2017 it is full of dark and light. The first quarter was one of physical disability and a sense that my horizons were closing in because I simply could not walk without serious pain. The knee injury of the autumn allied itself with the weakness in my hip. I couldn’t get up and down the stairs without a stick. I couldn’t get out of chairs without the stick. I felt about 105 years old – and I believed this was going to be my future. You can imagine how depressing that was.
Now, at the end of the year, things are very different. To my undying surprise, I find myself an active gym member. I do resistance training. My muscles are more toned and I’ve lost over half a stone. I have more energy. I go up and down the stairs and up from chairs without a stick. Yay! There is a lot more progress to make but I feel Olympian compared to how I was a few months back.
What is the lesson from this? That your body matters – it’s the vehicle of all your creativity and when it is unwell it is hard to be positive or make progress in any other sphere of life.
The other main aspect of my 2017 was the workload. I am glad to have helped so many students and editorial clients over the past year. It is extremely fulfilling. But when you realise you’ve edited 1.2 million words during the year and none of them were your own, you start to wonder when you will ever match the service you give to others with attention to your own writing ambitions.
The lesson from this is that the balance of elements in one’s life needs to be evaluated, constantly, because it is so easy to let one aspect get out of hand. To that end I will be cutting back on my editing role and launching a whole new Fictionfire activity in January. Wish me luck!
Highlights of my year were the Oxford summer schools, teaching at Winchester, holidays in Cornwall and Provence, the publication of ‘Salt’ in Distant Echoes and my poem ‘Cooling’ in Vine Leaves Literary Journal. I read quite a few books as part of my IGISIRI campaign – but not nearly enough, because of those 1.2 million words of clients’ books. My latest IGISIRI is Geraldine Brooks’ Year of Wonders, which I have meant to read for years. It was stunning. I’m hoping next year to be more consistent in my IGISIRI reading - for previous posts on what IGISIRI means, go here.
I’ll sign off now with my warmest wishes that you all have a creative, fulfilling 2018 year ahead of you. I’ll be back this week with news of my new Fictionfire venture and historical novelist Anna Belfrage will be guest-posting.
Happy New Year!
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