A Review of 2017

Happy New Year to you all, I hope you had a good Christmas, however you celebrated it.

We were in Rhossili Bay for New Year, staying in this little place with the dog, just down the road from a 3 mile sandy beach.

I know it looks a bit like a shed but it was, honestly, called a shepherd’s hut and it was cosy and warm (although it was so windy on all 3 nights, that we were rocked to sleep!). Fabulous but I must admit, as much as I enjoyed it this year, I always breathe a little sigh of relief when the kerfuffle of Christmas and New Year is over and we can all get back to ‘normal’!

I thought I would do a little review of 2017 – my writing and the blog (and those of you who are new followers may have missed some of these posts), so here goes:

January – I was a guest on Tracy’s blog talking about my self-published book on starting a creative writing class.

February I gave a talk at Evesham library, as part of the Festival’s Second Friday Stories, a free event for writers and readers.

Then, in February and March (I must have been short of time or ideas!) I posted a few of my articles that had originally appeared in Writing magazine:

1. Ideas – protecting them, acting on them, what about if someone ‘steals’ them?
2. Dreaming for writers.
3. Are you a lark, hummingbird or owl?
4. Which is best – PC or pen?

In April I wrote a post about getting inspiration from sport and, ahem, I also left the handbrake off my car – the first time I’ve ever done that! and I wrote a poem about it (and haven’t done it since – honest!)

In May I wrote about going to the Stratford Literary Festival, handed in my notice (I used to work part-time for a children’s charity. I need to find a new part-time job this year!) and won the Tamworth Literary Festival short story competition (they’re running another one, closing 31st March 2018, if you’re interested in entering, the details are here.
The prizes are CASH this time but when I won it was £100 of book tokens (very useful for Christmas presents!).

I published another of Writing magazine’s posts, this time about ‘Ditching the Distractions

And in June, I wrote about the benefits of keeping a diary.

I wondered whether being a published novelist is really all it’s cracked up to be and wrote a post on the Top Ten Tips for editing your work.

I also bid for – and won – a full manuscript critique from Alison May on the Authors for Grenfell site (which raised over £180k in total).

July was the Evesham Festival of Words. I ran two workshops on writing short stories and my friend Chris and I ran the Book Quiz for the second time.

The dates for the festival, if you’re interested, in 2018 – are Friday 29th June to Sunday 1st July. We’ll be running the quiz again (3 tables are already booked!) and I’ve also been asked to run a workshop on Writing Serials (so I’d better get moving on another one as I’ve only actually ever written one!).

There’s a short story competition linked to the festival too and the details are here (you’ve got until March 23rd to get your entry in).

In July I went to Writers Holiday in Fishguard which turned out (sadly) to be the last one. So in 2018, I have to find somewhere else to go for a summer writing holiday.

In August, to celebrate reaching 700 followers I launched a little ‘random word competition’ (and now that I’m just 12 off 800, there’ll be another one soon).

In September my restaurant review won first prize and £100 in the Writers Forum flash competition.

In October my blog was 7 years old and I got a bad back (the two things aren’t linked) and talked here about how to protect your back, as a writer.

I went on a novel writing weekend, to get some tips on my (very rough!) first draft. I now have until the end of January to get the second draft done and then send it off to Alison May for the critique. It was supposed to be with her by the end of the year but illness and Christmas have got in the way, so I have a ‘reprieve’!

In November I went to the library to write a few times (something I’m going to do more of this year) and I wrote here about how difficult I was finding it to write both short stories and longer novel type stuff.

Which brings us to December! I was ill for nearly the whole month! (that lurgy thing that’s been going around. The one that fools you into thinking it’s gone – and then comes back with a vengeance). It’s been busy like it always is in December and so, not much writing has been done.

I said a little while ago that this was a year when lots of things changed. And the final one was…I went to the dentist on 28th December and my lovely dentist, who I’ve been with for over 20 years, told me he’s selling the practice… noooooo! So I have to find a new dentist now and I’m not very happy about that.

Writing Review of the Year

* I submitted 48 short stories to women’s magazines (my target was 52).

* I wrote a first draft of a novel, which is further than I’ve ever got before, so that is GOOD. Although I’m aware that the really hard work starts in January, when I want to try to get the second draft done and sent off for a critique.

* I had my first short story translated into another language (Swedish), when Allas magazine bought my story about the Rome marathon (previously published in Take a Break).

* I didn’t have any guests on my blog in 2017! How did that happen?! I will rectify that in the new year, definitely. I already have one lined up for January!

* I didn’t have any articles or non-fiction pieces published last year either (I used to have a fairly steady record with Writing magazine). But I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t do everything and there’s no point trying.

How was your writing year?

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16 Responses to A Review of 2017

  1. You’ve been very busy Helen, and should be proud of yourself for what you’ve already achieved.
    All the best for 2018 –
    I’ve set some big goals, and have a plan to get there. I just hope ‘real life’ is kind to me this year as I’m doing a novel rewrite, 3rd to 1st person.
    I’m definitely factoring some ‘me’ time into my weeks though – I’ve got myself a cinema pass for the year.

    • Thanks Maria. Yes, I read your blog post (sorry I don’t often comment! I will try to rectify that this year) – very interesting how you’ve used a writing coach and she seems to have given you some good advice (an article in that, for Writing magazine perhaps – or a letter, at least?). Good luck with it. And how lovely to have a cinema pass!

  2. Linda Casper says:

    Would love that “hut” in my garden!
    You had a very successful year. Wishing you all good things for 2018.
    Always enjoy reading your posts.
    Linda

    • Thanks, Linda. Yes, everyone’s lusting after the shepherd’s hut! It DID have a tele’ though, so that would have to go! (too much of a distraction). I managed to resist the lure of the WIFI and didn’t take my laptop with me. It was good to have a 3 day break from t’internet, I must admit.

  3. What a wonderfully busy and productive year you’ve had, Helen. Well done on achieving so much. It was lovely to meet you at Fishguard in July – and yes, how sad that it was the last one. Wishing you continued success in 2018.

    • thanks so much – was lovely to meet you too! It looks like quite a lot when it’s all written out like that, doesn’t it (one of the advantages of writing a blog, I suppose – I have a record, of sorts, of what I’ve done) but I’m sure you’ve been busy too!

  4. simonwhaley says:

    Yes, I want one of those huts in my garden! A productive year for you. Well done!

  5. juliathorley says:

    Congratulations on all you’ve achieved this year and here’s to more of the same in 2018. Keep blogging: I’m always happy when you land in my inbox. 🙂

    • Thanks, Julia. On a non-writing subject, I’m hoping to start pilates or yoga this year (I’d rather do yoga but there’s a new pilates class starting in our village hall next week). Let’s see if I manage to make it…

  6. Keith Havers says:

    Happy New Year, Helen. Looking forward to another of your ‘word’ comps. I see you’re nearly at 800 followers so it can’t be long now.

    • Thanks Keith, Happy New Year to you! I know.. I seem to have zoomed from 700 to 800 pretty quickly so yes, hopefully at some point during this month I’ll be running another of my random word comps. Watch this space!

  7. Sharon boothroyd says:

    Happy new year to you Helen, and to everyone else! Well done on such a productive year. Have you missed a biggie – winning the PF story serial competition?

  8. pennywrite says:

    Wishing you a happy 2018, Helen! Keeping up the good work from last year…
    I really sympathise about the dentist situation. We had to change when we moved house in any case, and it’s been So Far, So Good. May you find similar haven 🙂

    • Thanks, Penny. Glad you got sorted. You know what it’s like when you find a dentist that you like – and trust not to put you through excrutiating pain every 6 months – and now I’ve got to find a new one. I could always have a little laugh and joke with mine (he thought it was hilarious that I combined my trips to see him – in Birmingham, where there are SHOPS – with a visit to Asda! “Enjoy Asda!” were always his parting words). Ah well, I am sure there are other good dentists, so I’ll just have to find one!

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