Resolutions revisited

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Well, 2016 was quite a year, and many others have summed up its highs and lows better than I ever could. So rather than weep about the state of the world I thought I’d take this opportunity to review my New Year’s Resolutions from January 2016 and set some new ones for the year ahead.

My first two resolutions from last year were to work through the teetering pile of books beside my bed and buy books from independent bookshops or direct from the publishers

I’ve certainly read a lot of books this year, although there’s still a pile by my bed and this is constantly refreshed with new books.

I’m still in a book group, which nudges me to read books I might otherwise miss. At some point I should do a post about my favourite books of this year, but for now let’s just say I loved Laura Lipman’s Wilde Lake, Kit de Waal’s My Name is Leon, and I’ve been reading a lot of YA (more on this later), a highlight of which was E Lockhart’s We Were Liars.

   

This year I found it harder than ever to buy books from independent bookshops as our local indie bookshop closed down. But I have bought some directly from small publishers, and quite a few from authors themselves, including the brilliant Sharon Duggal, whose novel The Handsworth Times came out in September.

Follow up for 2017: Keep reading!

 

My next resolution was to finish Baby X, and work hard to sell a lot of copies

It was hard work to plough through the final edits and got the book ready in time for the launch, but my publisher and I made it, and the book came out at the end of June 2016.

Thanks to a very generous friend who lent me a venue, I had a very enjoyable local launch, which was very well attended and where I sold lots of books – yay!  (Don’t worry of you missed it, you can still get your copy from Mother’s Milk Books or from Amazon.)

Baby X had some great reviews and I had a lot of positive feedback from readers, all of which has been incredibly gratifying.

I worked hard at promotion, appearing at events and even doing radio interviews, and I’m told I’m due a royalty cheque sometime soon which feels like something to be proud of.

 

Follow up for 2017: pat myself on the back, and keep my fingers crossed that someone picks up the film rights.

 

My next resolution was to rewrite my Young Adult dystopian thriller about gender, provisionally titled He, She, It.

What with one thing and another  (well, Baby X mostly, since we didn’t finish the edits til June, and I’d given myself the summer to focus on promotion) I didn’t get started on this rewrite until September, and although I had done some work on the book last year, I found myself wanting to unpick a lot of the work that I’d done and start again, drawing on the lessons I’d learned editing Baby X.

When the kids went back to school I still had promotional work to do on, as well as a lot on at work, so inspired by Sophie B Lovett I decided to set my alarm extra early and get a little done at the start of every day.

There were times  – especially as the early mornings grew darker and colder – when I didn’t much relish getting up an hour earlier to write. But sometimes timing is everything, and the events of this year, in particular the rise of the alt right, with its backlash against feminism, and threats to LGBT rights, not to mention the election of a US President who revels in shitty treatment of women, made the issues in this book feel more relevant than ever.

As of December 2016 I’m happy to say I finished the rewrite. It’s now with a small gang of trusted beta readers, and I’m aiming to respond to their comments, make any necessary changes and get this book out to agents early in 2017.

Follow up for 2017: find an agent to represent this book, and/or a publisher to publish it.

 

My next resolution was to find a home for my middle-grade novel Seal Skin.

Unfortunately I didn’t win the Times/Chicken House competition (ah well), but I’m very happy to announce that I’ve just heard from Mother’s Milk Books that the indie press is going to publish Seal Skin in early 2018.

Watch this space!

 

Follow up for 2017: sign a contract with Mother’s Milk Books, and wait to hear from my editor.

 

Resolution number 6 was to collaborate with a playwright to produce a piece of original (podcastable?) radio drama

My love affair with radio continued this year, but sadly this project didn’t make it. Chalk it up to competition from other projects, or artistic differences, I still learned a lot.

Follow up for 2017: be open to opportunities for collaboration which present themselves.

 

Resolution number 7 was to keep blogging, and keep making connections with interesting people online, but don’t get sucked into to believing this stuff is the actual work.

I haven’t been blogging much this year. Apart from those moments when a news story makes me itch to share my opinions (whether on the obsession with formal grammar in the new SATs or why we don’t believe women when they talk about sexual assault) I’ve been concentrating on writing fiction in the little time I have.

But I’m always inspired by reading other bloggers, and I love being a part of the amazing by our What I’m Writing community, curated by Maddy at Writing Bubble, who’ve kept me sane at key moments this year. I enjoyed attending the Mumsnet Blogging conference in November and came away filled with renewed energy.

I may not blog much in the next twelve months, but it’s more important than ever to have a community of writers around me. I pledge to be generous with my time, advice and support, to reach out for help when I need it and to revel in the successes of others.

 

(Gif: Strong Women Lift Each Other Up – this has been reblogged so many times I’m not sure who to thank for it. I found it on Libby Vander Ploeg’s Tumblr but I’m not sure if she’s the illustrator/animator. Anyway, whoever made this originally, thank you! It sums up my current attitude to blogging, writing, and social media pretty much perfectly!)

Follow up for 2017: keep building community online and do what I can to support my fellow writers

 

My final resolution from 2016 was to jealously guard time for creative work, in the face of multiple demands and distractions…

Despite everything else going on this year, I’ve launched one book, sold another and rewritten a third. Although there’s so much more I still want to do, this feels like progress.

And whenever I get waylaid by internal resistance, there’s always Steven Pressfield’s The Art of War, not to mention a wonderful community of writers to get me back on track again.

Follow up for 2017: Keep going. You’ve got this. 

 

I’d love to hear about your creative resolutions and plans for 2017, and leave you with a quote from KRS One:

The God of your understanding has chosen you and you’ve agreed to be here in this space and time to do something that only you can do. Now I won’t stand here to try and tell you what it is. But deep inside yourself, as you take time to uncover, and ask yourself some vital questions, like, What is it that brings me peace? What is it that brings me joy? What do I love doing? What am I willing to become highly skilled at doing? What part can I play for the betterment of the society and the world in which I want to live? …. Now visualize exactly, the way that you desire to live. And don’t be afraid to dream.

11 thoughts on “Resolutions revisited

  1. Jo Winwood

    Sounds like a packed year and for me the highlight was Baby X, I really loved reading it and have passed it to my sister who I hope will love it too. My writing resolution is to finish, edit and publish my novel, I think it may be a self publish but that seems to be the way many go these days so let’s see how it all pans out. Good luck with all your writing endeavours in 2017.

    Reply
  2. Luisa

    Wow you are amazing to get all that in and what a host of fabulous achievements! I loved Baby X and I am loving reading He, She, It.

    My goals are yet to be decided upon., but will go something like this,

    “Luisa, bloody well sit down and write something and stop dithering”.

    Reply
  3. Ana Salote

    Thanks for an inspiring post. I’m deep into editing at the moment. You know what it’s like, nothing gets past Teika. It’s all a bit painful but you know you’ll have a better book at the end of it. Beyond launching Nondula, I’d like to place at least one short story in 2017 and to finish the first draft of my adult novel. Hats off to you for the early morning stints. May be something else I should aim for.

    Reply
    1. Becky Post author

      Thanks Ana, I’m looking forward to reading Nondula, I loved Oy Yew. Know what you mean about the editing process – it is painful, even though you know it’s worth it… does it ever get any easier I wonder?

      Reply
  4. Helen

    That’s a really impressive list of resolutions. And I’m delighted about Seal Skin!
    (I think I’m particularly impressed with the bit about getting up early to write. I can’t imagine having life and child-sleep well enough under control that I’d dare set that kind of alarm)

    Reply
    1. Becky Post author

      Thanks Helen, here’s wishing you lots of unbroken nights and clear-headed mornings in the year ahead!

      Reply
  5. Rachael

    I LOVE that you quoted KRS One at the end. You’ve achieved so much in 2016! I’m glad I got through a tough year and achieved more than I thought I had but not as much as I’d planned to. 2017 brings a more strategic focus for my business so I can make more space for downtime (this is ongoing learning, each year I get a little better at it!). Thanks for being an inspiration, Becky xx

    Reply
    1. Becky Post author

      Thanks Rachael, I have to admit the KRS One quote came courtesy of my eldest – whenever we listen to a certain CD in the car I get chills with that track. Love his voice and the message is one that I need to keep hearing. Yes, I relate about the need for balance and downtime. I think this is something all of us struggle with, so it’s good to hear you’re getting better at it!

      Reply
  6. Maddy@writingbubble

    You achieved loads last year – well done! I’ve just commented on your FB post with my creative resolutions but just to add a little extra here… the reason I want to focus on art is because it feels like something I can do in the the face of the awfulness that abounds in politics at the moment. The intention with my creative project (more details to follow soon!) is to put any money we make into grass roots charities that can hopefully make a difference. I think creativity matters even more in times like this and that just by doing the little things we all do, we’re contributing to something that goes far beyond ourselves in power and influence – a force for good that I’m hanging my hopes on! Thanks for being a wonderful part of the What I’m Writing community. xxx

    Reply

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