Here’s a summary of my 2015—it was a good one …
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.
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!
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 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.
Thanks Louise for your posts and your Midweek Moments. I appreciate your efforts.
Thanks, Penny. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your wonderfully supportive and encouraging comments. They’ve really helped keep me buoyant at times, more than you’ll ever know. xx
Lovely to read your recap of 2015, Louise – it certainly has been a significant and full year for you – and for your kind comments about our writing group. I thank you and Michelle too for sharing your time, careful consideration and valuable perspectives, and the wonderful friendship that has only grown on this journey as we all excitedly await the next instalments of each other’s novels and learn more and more together. Here’s to 2016!
Thanks, Jacquie! Yes, here’s to 2016, and may our writing and our novels just get better and better! They’ve already come so far.
What a wonderful year, Louise. As always, touching and inspiring.
Thanks, Gulara! And thank you for your wonderful support of me and my writing in 2015. May 2016 treat us both well! Best wishes. x
Dear Louise, I don’t know you but feel that I do, through your frank and tender blogs. You have made the most of the last year, indeed. I hope 2016 is a year of being truly you … some more. Re your fear of ageing, I have quite a few years on you. I’ve found that the last 10 years of my life have been richer and happier than those before; all that work I did has born fruit. As for my body, of course it is ageing. As for my mind, my editing work keeps it active, and my art, my interests and relationships. And I tickle it each day doing Lumosity, which I recommend. I find the only antidote to fear is surrendering, being in the moment. I even lost my app virginity and downloaded a mindfulness bell app. A lovely Tibetan bell chime rings periodically throughout the day to remind me of being myself. Just being.
Thanks for your lovely comment, Christina! I’m glad you feel you know me, as writing is really extension of ourselves, so that’s the way it should be.
I actually took the ageing paragraphs out when I re-read the post, only because I thought that topic deserved its own separate post—so if you re-read it and they’ve disappeared, it’s not your mind playing tricks!
It’s so heartening to hear your description of the joy of ageing. I know many older women who all say the same thing, and already, I can see it coming—daily demands are easing, there is less pressure.
I know a lot of people who swear by Luminosity! Certainly, one of the keys is to keep your brain active in as many ways as you can. My father and grandmother had Alzheimer’s, and if I’m genetically programmed that way, then the disease would already be chipping away at my brain, and would have been for a couple of decades. I have a 50% chance either way, and there’s nothing I can do about that—what will be, will be—so I’m going to make the most of my brain while I can!
I love the sound of your Tibetan bell app. Learning about mindfulness was a game-changer for me, something about which I’ve written in my journal and I’m sure I’ll share as the year goes on.
Thanks again for your thoughtful comment. x
A post full of wonder at the joy of the moment, and the excitement of the future. Hoorah, and here’s to a stellar, productive, never even needing to eye-roll 2016. More Ida! More Ida! 🙂
Thanks, Michelle. Yes, here’s to another stellar year of writing for our wonderful little group. Dustfall, Woven Interludes, Ida—bring them on!
Always a great joy and privilege to read your work, Louise! I love your turn-of-phrase; it’s beautiful and powerful and put to effective use in Ida’s Children. You look shamelessly young for someone who’s nudging fifty! More importantly, you possess a youthful spirit. Looking forward to reading more of Ida!:)
Thanks, Marlish! And thanks for casting your writer’s eyes over Ida as you have, and I’m glad it’s not a chore. I’ll have more ready for you in a couple of weeks—I’m not thinking about her at the moment, probably not until school goes back. Thanks again. x
What a terrific year you’ve had, Louise. Your gorgeous video says so much about the state of your life now. Two children out of school. Life changes. My four are all finished school and only one has yet to finish at uni. Life keep on changing. It swells and swirls like those wonderful coral reefs in your video. Thanks.
Thanks for your comment, Elisabeth, and I’m glad you liked the video. I feel the best I’ve ever felt—much happier and stronger, and more able to let joy in. But I couldn’t have got here without allowing myself to feel all the sadness and grief I wanted to feel for the past. One thing I’ve learnt over the past year, is that my feelings aren’t selfish, but are valid and very, very necessary.
Thanks, too, for our writing friendship. You’ve no idea how much that means to me, and how nice it is to have a letter-writing friend!
Lovely post as always. All the best for 2016. Looking forward to more of your writing.
Thanks, Rashida, and I look forward to more writing from you, too. xx
Yet another lovely post from you, Louise. Thank you for your new (and growing) friendship, as well as our creative Midweek Moment venture. It was your idea and a good one! So is our friendship.
Your 2015 sounds like a year of fresh looks and beginnings, growth and change. I hope 2016 continues that theme for you.
Thanks, Monique. I think 2016 will be good for both of us. I’m looking forward to reading more of your writing, as what I’ve seen already is beautiful. I’m glad you’ve made more of a commitment to it. Best wishes. xx
Great video. I’ve lived in Nth Qld most of my life and have only been out to the reef once. Personally, I’ve been very interested in reading about your work with Ida’s Children and am greatly looking forward to seeing it published. Good luck with all your endeavours in 2016, Louise.
The reef is magical, even though you know you’re only seeing a fraction of it, and they’re the commercial spots. The fish almost seem tame! I’ll do my best to get stuck into Ida and whip her into shape so people can read her! I’d love nothing more than to see her published. Best wishes to you in 2016, too—in your new home and city! xx
What a year 2015 was for you. I look forward to reading your novel and I am going to head back now and read more of your blog. What an interesting person you are.
Thanks for reading, Kooky! Hoping, wishing, praying that my novel is on the shelves one day. x
I have no doubt it will be. The power of your story, it will be a best seller x
Wouldn’t that be lovely! Thank you for your faith! 🙂