I was about to tweet a happy tweet and post a happy post about my happy year, when our washing machine broke down and our boiler stopped working. It was eerily uncanny, as if the Fairy who stops you feeling too smug had flown into my house and sprinkled some of her glum magic over my life. Andrew, my husband, fixed the washing machine in a flash (stick that, Fairy) but the boiler is a more complicated issue. We are without central heating and instant hot water until at least Tuesday. We’re living behind closed doors with plug-in heaters, like people living in bedsitters in a boarding house. In fact, it reminds me of my bedsit days when I lived in rented rooms and piled coats and jumpers on top of my bedding before I went to sleep at night. And sat up in bed to read and write, wearing scarves and hats and outdoor clothes.
Except that it’s nothing like those days because I no longer live alone, I no longer live in rented accommodation, and the lack of heat and hot water is temporary (and, in any case, Andrew has sorted out a way of providing us with hot water by heating the old immersion heater which, thankfully, we’ve always kept, even though it hasn’t been connected to the electricity). So, back to my happy thoughts about 2017?
Yes, there are loads of good things that have happened to me and my immediate family this year. Andrew’s health, for one thing. There are still, and there always will be, issues to do with his prostatectomy, but he is currently cancer-free. Our two children, now 18 and 16, did really well in their ‘A’ level and GCSE exams. Our daughter is now studying for an English degree at Oxford University. Wow, wow, wow, we are all so bloomin’ proud of her. Our son, after doing the absolute minimum amount of work (or so it seemed to me!) passed all ten of his GCSE exams, Grades C to A* (or the new variants of – don’t ask unless you’re up to date with the UK exam system which has had an update in recent years) and is now studying for a BTEC in Music at a local College. He’s gigged with different bands at venues in Trowbridge, Frome, Bath and Bristol. He’s written a song! Proud, proud, proud.
What about me?
- I had an offer of publication from Nine Arches Press for my first full poetry collection
- I’ve been invited to read at four different venues in 2018
- I won a poetry comp
- I had a poem shortlisted in another competition
- I had a poem published in Butcher’s Dog magazine and at Ink, Sweat and Tears
- I read at Greenbelt Festival
- the BBC got in touch, out of the blue, to say they’d like to repeat my radio play The Songs that Houses Sing on R4Extra in 2018
- I got a job as Writer in Residence at a school in Bath, working one day a week for an academic year
So, hurray, hooray, hoorah, huzzah for me. But, not so fast… the following is also true:
- I entered loads of poetry competitions and came nowhere
- I sent my work to lots of different magazines and it was all rejected
- I applied for a part-time job in a library, got an interview, failed the IT test (Oh, Mum! said my 16 year old. Actually, he said something obscene and insulting but I don’t want to shatter the illusion of him I’ve given).
- I applied for a residency and didn’t get an interview
- I applied for ACE funds and got turned down
- I applied for another residency, was shortlisted, interviewed, I handed over two pages of workshop ideas – and I got turned down
- I applied to my local arts development agency to be included in a writers tour and didn’t even get a no thank you reply
- I applied to a scheme looking for writers to work in schools and got turned down
- I wrote to all of the schools in my local area offering writing workshops and didn’t get one reply
I could go on (and on) but perhaps this is enough honesty for one post. And yet, in spite of this, or perhaps because I really do know that I am lucky, blessed, privileged, advantaged, I feel happy, satisfied, fulfilled, grateful, glad, at the year’s end. That isn’t to say I haven’t had some sad days. Being rejected, turned down, ignored, isn’t much fun. I’ve had bitter, angry days. I’m sure there will be more ahead. I don’t know if the good has outweighed the bad for me this year. Perhaps, because I’ve seen what is going on in our world, because that information is more readily available these days, I feel that my life is much happier than most. My own personal circumstances are much better than they were in the past, that much I do know.
For now, that is my snapshot of my year. I thought I’d share it with you, the good and the not so good. And Happy New Year to you, when it comes. I’m not thinking about any goals or resolutions just now but I am going to try to blog at least once a week, and probably on a Sunday.