On this day last year my dad lost his fight with cancer.
After weeks of feeling numb, I vowed that I would dedicate 2013 to ‘turning my life around’ in honour of dad (I desperately wanted something good to come out of something so bad).
Today I am checking in as promised, to see what I have achieved…
The first thing to admit is that I haven’t achieved a complete 100% turnaround. But I am definitely well on my way (40% say). My about-turn started in March 2013 when I signed up for a mindblowing 30 Day ‘Do What You Love’ Challenge which took all my assumptions about what I wanted to do and dumped them in a heap on my head. I found myself going from wanting to be a photographer, artist, or greetings card designer, to realising this was all just a frantic attempt to escape from the thing I feared most; being a children’s writer.
So 2013 was the year I owned up to this once and for all.
It was also the year I started writing a ‘proper book’. I say ‘proper’ because I think I was just playing at it before, like I was warming up for the Main Event. My three previous manuscripts were picture book texts and, whilst I had some fun with them, they also felt weirdly strained. Like I wasn’t really being myself. Last year I found myself writing a book for 7-8 year olds. Which meant it had strange never-seen-before-things in it…like chapters. And a plot.
I have been working on the book for the past few months, with varying degrees of success (I use the term ‘working on’ very loosely). But yesterday I realised I CAN ACTUALLY BLOODY WELL DO THIS. I had started reading Piers Torday’s The Last Wild. Several pages in, I was in shock. He had sneaked into my head and pinched my ideas!! My first thought was that that was that. End of story. No more book. I had wasted the last few months. But then I listened to the calmer voice in my head which told the hysterical voice to bugger off and stop panicking; the story wasn’t exactly the same, there were simply some similar elements. And if Piers Torday had written a bestselling book based on some of these elements, then surely I was on to something? Weirdly, I went from utter dejection (“Bollocks, I’ve got to stop writing my book”) to complete determination (“Fuck it, I need to write my book and get it out there NOW!”) within the space of several seconds. So I am going to continue on as if nothing has happened and write my book, which will ultimately, of course, be very different to Piers’s. Because it will be all mine. (And besides, one of his main characters is a cockroach whereas mine… isn’t. So there.)
2013 was the year I achieved another big dream – to live by the sea. It took years of research, years of analysis, and years of procrastination. But once I’d done it, I walked round in a state of wonder asking myself, “Why didn’t I do this years ago?”. Typical! As I wrote in a previous post – this place and I are meant to be. I am quite simply deeply, deeply happy here. (I chat to dad sometimes when I am out walking by the sea – I know he would have loved it here too.)
Other 2013 highlights include designing postcards and creating Spark Stories; interviews with people who love what they do for a living. This was an excuse for me to interview and video some exceptional people – a jazz musician, an entrepreneur, a creativity coach, and a children’s author. Every story was truly inspiring. These people know how to dream big (something I can definitely learn from).
Those were the highlights.
The ‘lowlights’ include splitting up with my boyfriend of 4.5 years. Yup. It was shit. But it was a mutual decision and we remain, miraculously, best friends. That’s quite a feat. Now I’m wondering whether meeting the right man might be just like moving to Emsworth; scary to think about but when it actually happens, it feels like coming home.
To sum up, 2013 was the year I finally committed to what I want to do (be a writer) and started to write THE ONE (my fourth book and the one most likely to be published, I think). It was also the year I upped sticks and moved to where my heart and I have always wanted to be.
So what about 2014? I’m pleased with what I’ve achieved but I’m not quite ready to shout from the rooftops that my life has ‘turned around’ (it’s in mid-turn).
A few weeks ago I listed my dreams:
Dream 1: Move to the coast.
Dream 2: Finish writing my children’s book and be snapped up by a publisher.
Dream 3: Fall in love, get married and by some miracle at my age, have children.
Dream 4: Buy my own home (a little place with a log fire and vegetable/herb garden).
Dream 5: Live a simple life by the sea; writing, doing yoga, hiking, cycling, paddeboarding, kayaking and camping.
Dream 6: Never have to worry about money again (sigh).
With Dream 1 ticked off the list, I hereby officially dedicate 2014 to the achievement of Dreams 2, 3* and 5!
(*I mean the falling in love bit; I’m feeling optimistic but I think getting married and having children might be a little too much to aspire to in just one year.)