This year I feel like I’ve been the proverbial duck on the pond. On the surface everything has looked pretty calm, but beneath the water my feet have been churning a mile a minute. Like many people, as another a year draws to a close, I’ve been reflecting on my output and achievements and weighing up if they match the vision I held at the start of the year.
While at times I’ve felt I haven’t been doing much in the way of personal or professional development, perhaps the surface-level static belies the legwork beneath. 2019 might not have been the greatest when it comes to tangible ‘writerly wins’, but success comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s the time you invest back into yourself, your craft, and your networks that can pay dividends downstream. That’s why I’m calling 2019 my ‘Duck on a Pond’ year.
I went through my diary this week and it seems, in spite of my inner critic telling me otherwise, I’ve actually been up to duckloads! If you’re reflecting on your 2019 and feel you haven’t met your own standards, chances are you’ve possibly (if you’re anything like
me) set yourself a nigh impossible target of productivity and achievement while trying to juggle a semblance of work-life-family balance … and feed the damn cats!
Keep on ducking, and don’t be so hard on yourself. Writing can already be an emotionally tough gig, without the stress of meeting your own high standards. Whatever you’ve done this year, it is enough. And so are you 😊
Here’s a dip into my 2019 duck pond with a look back at the last twelve months of writing and moonlighting:
I kick-started my reading for the year by serving on the judging panel for the Australian Shadows Awards in the ‘Collections’ category. The Australian Shadows Awards are administered by the Australasian Horror Writers Association and celebrate the finest in horror and dark fiction published by an Australasian within the calendar year. Works are judged on the overall effect of a work—skill, delivery, and lasting resonance. If you’re looking for the latest and greatest in Aus/NZ horror, the Australian Shadows Awards is a great place to start. I take judging very seriously, so I haven’t delivered full reviews of the books that were entered in the ‘Collections’ category, but you’ll find further comment on the wonderfully talented and diverse entries on my next blog post What I Read in 2019.
I was thrilled to be shortlisted for an Australian Shadows Award myself in the ‘Poetry’ category for my poem ‘The Middle of the Night’, which was originally published in Issue 9 of Breach Magazine.
I had six original fiction pieces published, including a poem ‘StormSong’ in a gorgeous coffee table book Beautiful Storm, and a poem ‘Local Knowledge’ in Midnight Echo Issue 14 (you can read about the inspiration for that creepy poem here). For a full list of my published work in 2019, click here).
I recorded my short story ‘Once Upon a Moonlit Clearing’ which appeared in AntipodeanSF Anniversary Issue 250 for their radio program. (Do you cringe at the sound of your own voice? I do!)
I attended Continuum 15 “New Worlds” / NatCon – the Australian National SF Convention held this year in Melbourne. Guests of honour were the fabulous Kate Elliott and Ken Liu. Lots of fun catching up with old friends, and meeting new ones. Love me a Con!
I attended KidLitVIc, Australia’s annual conference that aims to connect children’s literary creators with Australia’s leading children’s book publishers. Highly recommended if you have an interest in contemporary children/junior fiction publishing trends and love networking. Some great panels and opportunities for assessments and pitches … but get in quick, tickets for KidLit are more sought after than a golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory!
I threw my hat in the ring at the Australian Society of Authors Literary Speed Dating … it’s fast and furious and not for the faint hearted, but also lots of fun. Polish your pitch, research your publishers, put on your invisible cape of bravery, then try and sell your story in three minutes before the bell rings. Next!
I attended one of the ASA’s digital workshops presented by Aleesah Darlison focussing on Author Presentations at Schools.
I attended a regional Writers VIC workshop on structure presented by Anna George, which was made possible by the Peninsula Writers’ Club receiving funds through the Grace Marion Wilson Trust.
Speaking of Peninsula Writers’ Club, the little club that could this year received Not For Profit status, which opens up doors for a whole swag of exciting writerly opportunities for our Mornington Peninsula scribe tribe. I’m very proud to serve on PWC’s inaugural committee as Vice President.
I called time out from the day job and headed to Phillip Island for another of Louise from Novel Solutions awesome writing retreats. If you’ve put ‘time out for your writing goals’ on your wish list for 2020, check out Louise’s website, and book yourself in. This was the third retreat I’ve done through Novel Retreats, and I’m looking forward to my fourth in March next year.
StoryCraft Creative Writing Workshops, my passion project, has had another busy year of delivering creative writing workshops to aspiring authors of every age and ability across the Mornington Peninsula and beyond. This year I also teamed up with G.A.T.E.Ways to deliver exclusive workshops for the ‘gifted and talented’ education sector, which was a lot of fun.
I’ve made a lot of submissions this year, and gotten a lot of rejections (don’t sweat those rejections, folks! They just serve as reminders that you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing – putting your work out there). On the way, I’ve also had quite a few acceptances for short fiction. As I type this my middle grade fantasy series is currently under consideration with a publisher I’m very excited about, so keep your fingers crossed for me)!
And the best news to end the year: I was thrilled to sign a contract with my publisher IFWG Publishing Australia for a collection of my dark fiction and poetry. Coralesque and Other Tales to Disturb and Distract will be ready for release sometime toward the end of next year. Thank you to Gerry Huntman at IFWG for having me back! More information about my collection can be found here.
So, there you have it. My ‘Duck on a Pond’ year that was. My feathers might be a little ruffled, and my legs are sore from all that paddling, but I’ve learned a lot, and laughed a lot on the way, and the tears I’ve cried have mostly been happy ones! 😊
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone. Thank you all very much for your support this year.
May you all make a splash in your own pond in 2020 … whatever that may look like for you.
Happy writing, happy reading and happy days,