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Here’s a summary of my 2015—it was a good one …

THE NOVEL

As most of you know, my novel, Ida’s Children, was shortlisted for the 2015 TAG Hungerford Award. It didn’t win, so I sent it off to an agent, who gave me loads of feedback and I spent the last six months of 2015 hunkered down in my attic rewriting it.

This doesn’t sound like an enjoyable or pleasant thing to do, and at times it felt daunting and tedious and frustrating. However, by rewriting it and trying to take it to the next level, I know I’ve improved as a novel writer, and I know I have a much better novel.

I can’t overstate what a gift it is to have people prepared to read your work and give you feedback. They’re another set of eyes and ideas, and of skills and knowledge and experience. I’m so grateful to those who’ve given up their time, huge chunks of it, to read my work and give me feedback.

I’ve formed a writing group with two medico-novelists, Michelle Johnston and Jacquie Garton-Smith, and I believe we’ve formed the best writing trio in the country. Michelle and Jacquie are generous with their time, and their feedback is always insightful and honest. Most of all, they never roll their eyes or mutter under their breath when I send them yet another excerpt from Ida’s Children to read. Thank you, ladies!

Marlish Glorie is another generous reader and feedback-giver, with a remarkable ability to spot the phrase that is ruining a paragraph, or when I’ve overdone a point, or to give me a special feature to add to a description to make it unique. Thank you, too, Marlish—and those milk spots across a baby’s nose are now included.

THE BLOG

Because I gave my novel my full attention last year, I let my blog slide. I didn’t write as many personal posts, and I gave up writing reviews for the Australian Women Writers’ Challenge. As for my year of reading the classic, well, I’d rather not talk about that …

Despite all of that, WordPress tells me I still posted 55 times in 2015. A significant number of these were Midweek Moments, my weekly photographic collaboration with Monique Mulligan. I thought posting photos might be a lazy an easy way to keep my blog ticking over and free up time for novel-writing. In reality, many of these posts took just as long to prepare, but on the upside, I learnt about my camera and really got into the visual art that is photography.

It’s been a joy to get to know you, Monique, and I’m so grateful you agreed to this creative sideline of ours!

PERSONALLY

2015 treated me well. 2014 was emotionally taxing for many reasons, but 2015 was much nicer, especially considering Daughter #2 was doing Year Twelve.

One of the main reasons for the peace was that I heard nothing more about the defamation writ my mother had served on my husband and me in 2013. As worrying as it was at the time, I knew it had no basis and wouldn’t be successful—everything I’ve ever written about my mother is true.

Although I didn’t write as many blog posts last year, I still wrote in my personal journal. I’ll be turning fifty at the end of this year and this time of life feels like a time of personal reckoning. In my journal last year, I wrote about feelings I’d lived with for many years, some that I’d carried for as long as I can remember. I wrote about things I hadn’t written about before, things I thought I’d never be able to write about, but I was able to write about them. At first it felt uncomfortable, but within a few days, I could write more, and the more I wrote, the more comfortable I felt.

Through that writing, I was able to reach a stage of acceptance—not just of my childhood, but of myself. It might sound weird to say, but for the first time in my nearly fifty years of life, I’ve actually started to like myself! I can now write, ‘I’m a nice person’, and not delete it.

This year, I want to share some of what I wrote last year, and I want to write more. More memoir and personal essays, while I can.

THANK YOU

Thank you for persevering with me on this seemingly never-ending novel-writing journey. Thank you, too, for being such wonderful readers and commenters. When you read my words, I feel as if I’ve had a listening ear, and your comments encourage me to keep writing.

So thank you, dear readers, for walking this trek with me.

~

I’ve had this post written for a couple of days, but instead of photos, I decided to post a video, which took me a while to put together.

We’ve just had a family holiday in Queensland and went snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef. We hired an underwater camera, and when I started making this video, I had grand visions of capturing some of the majesty of the reef, and the wonder of swimming amongst vibrant coral with tropical fish within arms’ reach.

However, this is the best I could do with our footage. It’s a bit shaky and I hope it doesn’t give you vertigo, but at least it captures our delight.

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