Tag Archives: friends

Crossing Places

A few days ago, while playing among our books, The Toddler pulled out a slim volume which caught my eye. It was a book – or, more truly, a notebook – which I hadn’t seen in a very long time.

A very long time.

winnie-the-pooh-notebook

Photo credit: SJ O’Hart.

This notebook was a gift from my schoolfriends to me on my 17th birthday. In it, they had each written a little note wishing me a happy birthday and how much they were looking forward to celebrating with me; some wished me a bright future, and others shared funny stories (some of the details of which, sadly, have blurred with time). Many put their first names and their surnames, just in case I lost the notebook and didn’t find it again for so long that I’d have forgotten who they were. One spent four pages insulting me in the most colourfully hilarious language imaginable and didn’t bother signing his name because he knew (rightly) that we’d be friends forever and I’d never get around to forgetting him – and his message still made me laugh out loud.

I read it with a huge grin and, if I’m being honest, a few tears too – and not just because my 17th birthday is so long ago now that you’d need a telescope to see it.

This notebook’s reappearance in my life made me think a lot about intersections and choices, the random algorithms that bring people into your life and take them out of it again. I’m delighted that most of the people who wrote in my book are still my friends; a few I haven’t seen in a couple of years, and one I haven’t seen, sadly, since we left school. But I remembered them all, even without the surnames. Each of them was important to me, and many still are – and there’s not one among them I wouldn’t be glad to see again, right now. They’re all (as far as I know) still alive and well, and though most of them still live in Ireland there are a couple who left – one for America, one for the UK – and very few of them still live at home, where we all grew up. We all entered one another’s lives through the simple coincidence of being born at around the same time and either growing up in, or moving to, the same place in time to attend secondary school together. Besides that, we are as disparate a group of people as you could find.

And yet, we are bound to one another forever.

I was thinking, recently, about the ‘quantum’ versions of myself – by which I mean, fancifully, the versions of me which exist in every other imaginable universe. Would I be doing the same things I’m doing here, in this space? Would I be the same person? Would I live in the same place, with the same people? Who’s to know. Every life has its ‘crossing places’, points at which the choices you make determine the path you take. My life has had several of those, some of which I would dearly love to relive. If it were possible, would I take different paths? Would I make different choices? I have some regrets; people I have lost whom I miss, people I loved who never knew it, things I wish I’d had the bravery to do when I had the chance.

And yet, the choices I made have led me here, to this room, in which I’m typing. My child is a few feet away, playing. John Grant is on my stereo. The proof of my first book is sitting on the table beside me. Things are not perfect: the world is far from good. I, like many, have found the last few days very hard, for many reasons. But as lives go, I can’t complain about mine. It has been circuitous and challenging, and I look back on so much of it with a nostalgia bordering on pain, but – in one manner or another – everything I have ever wanted or worked for has come to pass.

But as my child grows, these are the lessons I will impart:

  1. If you love a person, tell them. Even if they don’t love you, and you know it; even if you fear rejection. Tell them, without expectation, because regret is a far heavier burden than embarrassment, and it grows heavier with time.
  2. If you have an opportunity to travel, take it.
  3. Ditto with studying.
  4. In fact, if you have an opportunity to travel and study, take it. With both hands. And don’t worry about how you’ll work things out – you will.
  5. If offered a job you don’t think you can do, try it anyway.
  6. If you want to go on an adventure, do it.
  7. Always treasure your friends.
  8. And never stop working for what you want, fighting for what you believe in, and doing everything you can to help others, as far as you can.

Every life has its crossing places, but hopefully my child’s will have fewer than mine – and, with any luck, friends and friendship will be a big part of it, as they have been for me.

Thank you to my friends, all of them, past and present and future. I’m lucky to have, and to have had, such love.

 

Wednesday Write-In #75

Well. So this has been somewhat of an unexpected morning, so far. I’ve finally managed to get something written for CAKE.shortandsweet’s Wednesday Write-In, however, as I’m sure you’ll all be delighted to know.

This week’s words were:

fly :: heatwave :: parchment :: beeswax :: boiling

And here’s what I did with ’em.

Image: sumosamtshirts.co.uk

Image: sumosamtshirts.co.uk

On A Long, Hot Summer Night

‘Oh my God,’ I panted. ‘I. Am. Boiling! I don’t know how you’re sticking it.’ Shelley, lying beside me in her brother’s heavy Thin Lizzy t-shirt, didn’t answer.

This heatwave was like nothing we’d ever known. A couple of days before, a guy from the end of our road had fried an egg on the bonnet of his car, just to see if he could. Talk had been flying around town about a kid who’d got heatstroke and who was now a foaming, raging lunatic locked up in a darkened bedroom. My own brother had managed to get himself stuck in a patch of melting tarmac like a fly in a spider’s web – but I had a feeling he’d done that on purpose.

‘Will we see if someone can bring us to the beach?’ I asked. ‘Maybe Joe, or one of the other lads?’

‘Ah, no,’ said Shelley, in a weird voice. ‘Joe wouldn’t be bothered with us, would he? He’s probably off with that girl from Ballyconnell – whatshername. You know the one.’

‘No. Who?’ I said, rolling onto my front, leaning over to examine my friend’s face. ‘I thought you and him were, you know.’ Shelley was lying flat out on her back, her eyes scrunched shut. Her cheeks were a faintly boiled pink, and her long blonde hair was spread out around her head like she was underwater. My own mousy brown locks were plastered to my skull, and every inch of me was doused with sweat. Shelley looked like she’d dropped out of the pages of a magazine by comparison, even with the stupid shirt on.

‘Yeah. Well.’ Shelley’s lips were drawn so tight that they were barely visible.

‘Shel, what’s up?’ I swished away a curious wasp, buzzing about beside her head.

‘Mind your own beeswax, Trish! Honestly. You’re as nosy.’ Shelley sat up, suddenly, and started gathering her stuff.

‘Here! I’m only asking. Are you all right?’

‘God, yeah. I’m grand. Not a bother on me,’ she spat, flinging her sun lotion into her string bag. She scrunched up the parchment paper that had been around our sandwiches, and shoved it in between her bottle of water and whatever book she’d brought with her. She was always reading something, usually stuff I’d never heard of. But then, that wouldn’t be hard.

‘You don’t sound like you’re grand,’ I said, propping myself up on my elbow.

‘Don’t worry yourself about it,’ she said, turning towards me. ‘You wouldn’t have a clue, anyway.’

‘What’s that supposed to mean?’ I licked my lips, tasting the horrible mixture of sweat and suncream on my skin.

‘I mean – Jesus. I don’t know what I mean.’ She drew her legs up and wrapped her arms around them. Kissed golden by the sun, they made my limbs look like they were made out of toothpaste by comparison. ‘I mean, fellas don’t treat you they way they treat me.’

‘Yeah. Well, I know that.’ Fellas didn’t even look at me. They couldn’t keep their eyes off Shelley. Not just their eyes, either, most of the time.

‘I wish I was you, sometimes. It’d be great to have a bit of peace.’ A spike of pain drove itself through my chest as she said this. Yeah, being me is fantastic, I said to myself. Fat, ugly and alone. Bloody brilliant.

‘You’re such a cow, Shelley Malone,’ I said, hefting myself to my feet. ‘A stupid, selfish – ‘

‘Trish! God, I’m sorry. That’s not what I meant.’ Shelley looked up at me, squinting against the sun. Her face was blotchy, and her eyes were full of tears. My insides tied themselves in a knot as I looked down at her, sitting on the grass like a lost child.

‘Shel – look!’ I flopped back down beside her. ‘Just tell me, will you? I want to help.’ Really, I just wanted to know, but I didn’t tell her that. Shelley didn’t answer me for ages; she just sat there, breathing deeply, her face thrown back against the wide blue sky like she wanted to melt into it.

‘Well, unless you have money, or a way to get to England, you can’t help me,’ she said, her voice so quiet that I barely heard her. My heart skittered around while my brain absorbed her words, and I thought about the book in her bag. Her dreams of going to Dublin to study. The life she should’ve had.

‘Is it – is it Joe’s?’ I asked, putting my hand on her arm. ‘Does he know?’

‘Even if he did, d’you think he’d care?’

‘But there has to be something we can do, right? Isn’t there?’

‘Who’s ‘we’?’ she said, and at her words it felt like the sun had gone behind a cloud. I shivered, my skin prickling, as I looked at her. ‘There’s only one ‘we’ here, and it’s not me and you.’

She grabbed her bag and rose to her feet, and I watched her walk away. Part of me knew, even then, that she was never coming back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s Post is Brought to you…

…by Old Age, Increasing Decrepitude and the Depths of Despair.

Why, you may ask, and the answer is simple. Today – lo! – is my birthday.

Image: mashable.com

Image: mashable.com

However, instead of dwelling on the relentless march of time, and the fact that I now have knees that crack in weird ways and hairs in strange places and the tendency to prefer a nice evening in by the fire watching ‘Antiques Roadshow’ to a night down the pub, I am going to list five things about myself that I didn’t know this time last year, and which – on the whole – are positive, self-affirming and causes for hopefulness in the face of my rapidly advancing age.

Ready? Okay. Here we go.

1. I make the best cup of tea out of anyone I know.

This has only come to light in recent months because I now make a lot more tea, from actual scratch, than I used to. In my previous life, I used to stand in line in a cafeteria and press a shiny little button, and my cup would magically overflow with tepid, tasteless brown liquid pretending to be tea (or coffee, and sometimes a barely potable mixture of the two.) Now that I no longer do that, I have learned that I make a darn fine cup of tea, whether it’s with loose leaves or teabags, and that it’s not a skill to make light of. Having the ability to make a good cuppa will take you places, I always say. Having said that, it hasn’t taken me anywhere yet, but I live in hope.

2. I have an almost unlimited ability to amuse myself.

As a child who read from an early age, I have never (to my knowledge) been truly, properly bored. The idea that a person could possibly have nothing to do while there are books to read or stories to write has always been alien to me. However, over the last year I have truly realised that if one is satisfied to live inside one’s own head, one can never properly be unhappy, and that my favourite place to be is – as you might have expected – inside my own head. Over the past year I’ve often been stressed, and I’ve often been frustrated, and at least fourteen times a week I’ve been convinced I’m an idiot who’s taken one step too far into the wide blue yonder, but I have never once been bored.

3. ‘Twenty thousand words’ sounds a lot longer than it really is.

So, this time last year I was deep in the throes of ‘Tider: Mark I’, which is now languishing in a box file, never to see the light of day again. Since then I have written ‘Tider: Mark II’, ‘Eldritch’ and am currently well over halfway finished with ‘Emmeline…’, and I have learned that no words are wasted, all ideas are good for something and that the idea of writing thousands of words is more daunting than actually writing them. Honestly. I would never have believed I’d be well on my way to knocking out three novels in one year unless I’d just put aside the little doubting voice that whispered ‘Poppycock! It can’t be done!’ and decided to go for it anyway.

It can be done. Words add up pretty quickly. Twenty thousand words is not a lot of words – it just sounds like it is.

4. Asking for, and receiving, criticism and feedback is not as bad as I thought.

All the publications I now have to my credit have happened in the last year. My work is now out there in the world, forevermore, eternally.

*Mweee! Mweeemweeemweee!* (translation: I'm Freaking Out!) Image: threadbombing.com

*Mweee! Mweeemweeemweee!* (translation: I’m Freaking Out!)
Image: threadbombing.com

This time last year, the very idea of anyone casting their eyes over my work would’ve brought me out in hives. Now, a year later, I’ve been privileged enough to have received feedback from all over the world, from other writers and from several agents, and I’ve realised that receiving feedback on my work is not the world-ending, mind-bending thing I thought it was. Of course, I’ve had to overcome one of my greatest fears and actually put some of my work out there, on the chopping block (so to speak), in order to reach this happy situation; once upon a time, I would’ve believed submitting my work was beyond my capabilities. It isn’t. I’ve done it, and I fully intend to do it again, quite possibly repeatedly, and I’m going to keep doing it until I get tired of it – which, I suspect, will be ‘never.’

5. It’s possible to be rejected, and not die.

I’ve been rejected a lot over the last year. Take it from me when I tell you that I have entered literally millions* of competitions in which I have not been successful, and I have submitted work for publication which has come back with a polite ‘No thank you, but best of luck with your future career, &c.’, or which has received no reply at all. The important thing is: I have lived to tell the tale. It has taken me a long time to realise that every rejection is a learning experience, and I have learned a lot about my own resilience over the last year.

Being rejected isn’t nice – but it’s not fatal, either.

To be honest, I had hoped I’d be further down the road to success by now, but – realistically – I am happy with my progress. Writing is a game of patience, determination and constant focus, which I now know I can bring to the table. I have also learned, over the past year, that deciding to chase the shiny, ephemeral bubble which is my dream of a writing life was the right thing to do, despite the near-hourly jitter attacks it gives me. The most important thing I’ve learned this year, however, is that I have the best friends and family in the world, who have cheered me on every step of the way, and without whom I could do none of it.

Image: stelzlfamily.com

Image: stelzlfamily.com

So, it’s happy birthday to me. I hope I’ll keep learning, and keep writing, over the year to come – and, with any luck, I’ll have even more to report this time next year.

(But I don’t want to think about this time next year, because by then I’ll be another year older, and that’s too depressing to think about. )

Have a great day, and always remember – as long as you’re learning, you’re living.

Image: cakedvintage.com

Image: cakedvintage.com

*Okay, so not literally millions. I’ve also learned I can be guilty of gross hyperbole, for which I apologise.

Small Imaginations Hold the Most

When I was a little girl, one of my favourite stories was by Astrid Lindgren, and it was called ‘Nils Karlsson, the Elf.’

Image: gimmesumhunny.wordpress.com - also on this blog, there is a full transcript of the story, which pleased me hugely. I hadn't read it in a long, long time before this morning.

Image: gimmesumhunny.wordpress.com – also on this blog, there is a full transcript of the story, which pleased me hugely. I hadn’t read it in a long, long time before this morning.

It tells the story of a lonely little boy named Bertil, left alone each day while his parents go out to work. Beneath his bed is a nail, which – when he touches it and says a magic word – makes him small enough to play with a tiny elf named Nils Karlsson who happens to live in his bedroom. So, the story tells us, Bertil was lonely and afraid no more when his parents left him alone, because now he had a friend to keep him company, and the whole world looked new and different when he was no bigger than a thumb.

I loved that story then, and I love it now. I love it because it makes me realise how much a child’s imagination can hold – how many worlds, how many characters, how much magic. I loved it particularly because Bertil can grow big again when he’s finished playing, and so he has his parents on one hand, and the magical world of Nils Karlsson on the other. That, to me, was the perfect story.

This past weekend, my husband and I visited one of his oldest friends, a man whom my husband has known since they were both about four years old. This is particularly wonderful because my husband’s friend now has a daughter who has just turned four, as well as a little son who is just over eighteen months old. It was amazing to see my husband and his friend fall into the speech patterns and comfortable-ness of their shared youth while his wife and I played with the children – and by played, I do mean played. The four-year-old has an imagination the size of eternity.

During the few hours we spent together, this little girl, her brother, her Mummy and me took a plane journey across another galaxy in order to find a beach in China where we could swim with all our clothes on. We had a safety belt to hold us in our seats (which, when not moonlighting as airline security equipment, is a skipping rope); we had one ‘crash helmet’ (which was a witch’s hat left over from Halloween) which we had to share between us; we suffered alien attacks, volcanic eruptions, inter-stellar fuel difficulties and a severe make-believe coffee shortage until, finally, we arrived at our magic beach.

It was the most fun I’ve had in a long, long time.

I was amazed to hear the constant patter of chat from this tiny girl, all the time making up more and more elaborate tales, constructing story world after story world, taking changes and twists into account. Everything became magical – her scooter became a rocket, her parents’ bedroom a mighty sea. Her own bedroom was a magical cave. She read to me from her books, and told me better stories than the ones written on the page.

And then, like Bertil from my favourite story, when she wanted to return to her ‘own’ world it was a simple matter of refocusing her gaze. Her magic rocket became her scooter again, and her house stopped being an inter-galactic cruise ship just long enough for her to reassure herself that her Mummy and Daddy were still there, or for her to get some juice or finish her dinner. Then, when she wanted it to, her beautiful imaginary world clicked back into place and it was all systems go once more.

I think there’s something very profound in that little lesson.

It also made me wonder whether my own imagination, old and dessicated as it has become, is big enough and flexible enough to hold all the worlds that children can imagine so effortlessly, and so fluidly. I can but try.

Image: omtimes.com

Image: omtimes.com

(Note: my husband drew my attention to this article, a blog in Scientific American, about the value of pretend play to a child’s development. It’s very interesting, and rather relevant to my own little post. So, check it out if you like!)

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

So, yesterday was awesome.

*feedback squeals* Image: ths.gardenweb.com

*feedback squeals*
Image: ths.gardenweb.com

Admittedly I didn’t do a lot of writing yesterday, but I did my next best favourite thing, which is: meeting wonderful people. It was doubly amazing that this also involved such things as drinking coffee, visiting places of cultural and/or historical significance and lots (and lots) of walking, but the true highlight was spending a whole day in the company of a pair of truly lovely people. I’m tired today, but it was all so worth it. And the most amazing bit of all? I have this blog to thank for yesterday’s happiness.

One of my favourite aspects of keeping this blog has been the fact that it has allowed me to ‘meet’ people from all over the world. Through sharing posts and comments and paying visits to other blogs, I have encountered all manner of kind, supportive, talented and frankly amazing folk. I do wonder, at times, what it would be like to meet some of these fellow bloggers in the flesh, and yesterday, I had a chance to do just that. My hitherto online-only friend Kate, and her husband Andrew, are on holiday in Ireland and the UK all the way from Australia, and I’ve been looking forward to meeting them for months now. Yesterday was the day it finally happened, and – as I’ve said – it was awesome.

(Linguistic note: I don’t use the word ‘awesome’ very often, mainly because very little in life truly warrants it. However, there simply is nothing else in the English language which does yesterday justice, so ‘awesome’ it is.)

Image: moreintelligentlife.com

Image: moreintelligentlife.com

I took my new friends on an impromptu walking tour of Dublin, taking in such sights as the Book of Kells, the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin Castle, the Queen of Tarts teashop on Dame Street (heartily recommended, beverage fans), Christchurch Cathedral and the National Gallery of Ireland. I gestured vaguely at lots of stuff – buildings, statues, landmarks – hoping that my descriptions of them were accurate and not something I’d half-picked up in school, probably backwards; they seemed reasonably happy with the trip, so I’m counting it as a success.

The only sad thing is, of course, that yesterday may be the only time I ever get to meet Kate and Andrew in person. Australia’s a long way away. We spoke a lot about the links between Ireland and Australia in terms of the transportation of convicts and criminals from my country to theirs in past centuries, and how if a person was taken from Ireland and put on the boat to Australia, their family essentially had to think of them as being dead, because they knew they’d never see one another again. The links between our countries – and, of course, between Australia and the UK – are strong and unbreakable, and arguably Australia isn’t as far away now as it has been in the past. But it’s still a journey I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to make.

But even if I never set foot in Australia, or if they never make it back over here, I’m so glad to have met them, and to have had the opportunity to spend a joyous day in their company. We drank a coffee-toast to the internet, and WordPress, and blogging, at the end of our day together, and I am truly thankful for the technology that allowed us to ‘meet’, first virtually and then in person.

I hope that the remainder of their ‘holiday of a lifetime’ in the British Isles is a rip-roaring success, and that they bring home memories and photographs that will bring them joy for many years to come. It was truly a pleasure to meet them both, and I’m doing my best to forget the tang of sorrow in thinking we might never meet again. Thank you, Kate and Andrew, for taking time out of your holiday to spend a day with me – and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Image: nandikanurfitria.wordpress.com

Image: nandikanurfitria.wordpress.com

Friday Fun

If my life is going to plan, as you read this post I should either be in my mother’s kitchen drinking tea, or in my friend’s kitchen drinking tea and watching her flock of ducklings pootle around her front yard. Either of these scenarios will do just fine.

You lookin' at me? You lookin' at me? I don' see no other duck aroun' here... Image: polkaperson.tripod.com

You lookin’ at me? You lookin’ at me? I don’ see no other duck aroun’ here…
Image: polkaperson.tripod.com

Where I won’t be is at my desk tapping away at a keyboard wondering when I’m ever going to finish Draft 4 of ‘Tider’; this is, of course, because I have finished Draft 4 of ‘Tider’.

In two-and-a-half months, I have managed to rewrite this beast of a book and bring it to its fourth draft. I think that’s the work of a derange… I mean, brilliant mind. I think I have spotted all the major plot gaps and loopholes, and I think I’ve worked through most of the complications inherent in working with a story that involves a sort of time travel (word to the wise: do not write about time travel, ever); I think my protagonist shows the expected growth and development in her character between page 1 and page 263, and as far as I know, justice and righteousness prevail, and all is good with the world, tra-la.

Note the use of the word I think, or some derivative thereof.

Image: myenglishclub.com

Image: myenglishclub.com

I think I’ve done all this, but it may yet turn out that I am flawed in my thinking. I’m sure there are things I’ve missed, and I hope when I print the book and start doing a hard-copy edit, that these things will become evident. I hope that I won’t uncover a major error with far-reaching consequences, which will rend the delicate fabric of my carefully constructed world in twain. All I can say is: if it happens, it happens. Worrying about it now won’t change anything.

So, this brings us back to the tea and the ducks. I’m going home (i.e. to The Place of my Illustrious Birth) for the weekend, mostly to spend time with family, attend a wedding celebration and forget entirely about the world of ‘Tider’ and the travails of Maraika, my plucky heroine; I shall, all going well, be back at the coalface come Monday morning, bright and early.

I hope you all have wonderful weekends, and that they involve tea, relaxation, and herding small, waddling feathered creatures.

Or, at least, tea and relaxation.

Image: pbh2.com

Image: pbh2.com

My First Blogiversary

Today is my blog’s first birthday!

Happy blogiversary to me! Image: fiftieswedding.com

Happy blogiversary to me!
Image: fiftieswedding.com

My first blog post was only a couple of sentences long, and I remember how terrified I was as I wrote and posted it. It felt like my head had become a theme park and I was offering free entry, with popcorn and super-sized sugary drinks on demand. As it turned out, of course, nobody but the WordPress bot actually ever read my first post, but my feelings didn’t care about that.

I can’t believe I’ve been writing my blog for a year. In one way, it’s become such a part of my everyday routine that it feels like I’ve been blogging forever, but in another way I’m mystified as to where the last year has gone.

So, what have I learned in a year?

Writing a daily blog is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I love it, and it gets me going in the morning like no cup of coffee ever could (particularly since I’m doing my best to give up caffeine, for real this time), but I’m not going to lie. Several times during the past year I’ve been reduced to tears at the thought of writing a new post, and I’ve had to really draw on all my reserves of strength, inspiration and improvisation to deliver the goods – but then, that’s a good thing. Isn’t it?

Conquering fear is fantastic. I really was afraid of writing a blog. I would have started one years ago, except I was terrified to do it. Starting this one felt a lot like jumping into the void and – against all expectation – learning how to fly, very quickly. It has given me so much satisfaction to look back over my year’s worth of blog posts, remembering how scared I was when I started out, and how I’ve overcome that fear.

I’m a lot less weird than I always thought I was. It’s great to know that other people think the same way I do about things as varied as books and mental health issues, or authors and writing techniques, or family and life. Having said that, it’s slightly bittersweet to think that perhaps all your little quirks aren’t as unique as you’d like to think. So it goes.

People are wonderful. If I’d thought I’d ‘meet’ so many wonderful folks through the medium of this blog, I really would have started to write it years ago. I’ve been buoyed up by positivity, support, friendship and fellow-feeling more times than I can remember over the past year, and I am so grateful to all my wonderful followers for that. It has been incredible to make contact with so many other bloggers, writers, thinkers, artists, and fellow human beings over the past twelve months. I started this blog thinking that (perhaps) my mother would read it once in a while, when she had nothing better to do; now I have over 200 followers and nearly 14,000 hits. My mind still can’t process that, really.

I really, really love writing. It would have been a bit of a ‘whoops’ moment if I hadn’t discovered this during the course of writing the blog, wouldn’t it? Luckily, though, that’s exactly what I found. Writing brings me more satisfaction than anything else I’ve ever done, and I’m privileged to live in a world where I have the opportunity to ‘publish’ my words in this way. Being completely honest, I had hoped to have achieved more, in terms of writing, over the past year than I actually have. However I think, all in all, I haven’t done too badly.

And the best part about having a blog? I can relive every moment of my journey, in ‘real time.’

Writing ‘Clockwatching…’ has been the best thing I could’ve done for my writing. This blog has compelled me to be disciplined, and strict with my routine. It has given me a sharp appreciation for deadlines. It has allowed me to see that I can provide ‘copy’ at short notice, not only once but repeatedly. It has shown me that I am capable of wringing inspiration out of my brain even when it feels drier than a camel’s backside. It has allowed me to take part in competitions and writing groups which have been a huge source of inspiration and feedback. It has opened my eyes to the sheer amount of writing blogs in existence, and I have benefited from every blog I’ve read and followed. It has made me realise, so clearly, that writers are all struggling toward the same goal and that we are all pulling for the same team, and that the success of one writer brings the rest of us up, just a fraction.

Go Team Go! Image: zazzle.com

Go Team Go!
Image: zazzle.com

This past year has, in so many ways, been the most satisfying and successful one of my life. I am hopeful, as I enter my second year of blogging, that this feeling of accomplishment will travel with me, and that I’ll soon have something concrete – in terms of my writing career – to show for all the work I’ve put in. No matter what the future holds, I wanted to say something to all of you who’ve been following my blog and who’ve told me that reading it has become part of your daily life: Thank You.

To all my wonderful friends, both ‘real life’ and ‘virtual’, who have supported me every step of the way, I am so grateful for your help and encouragement. To everyone who has read this blog, thank you. To everyone who has taken the time to comment and critique and help me on my way, thank you. To everyone who has contacted me to let me know how much they enjoy reading this blog, thank you. To my family (particularly my husband), thank you, and I love you.

Here’s to a second glorious year!

 

Image: bizetiquettes.com

Image: bizetiquettes.com