Everyone is talking about a New Decade while a lot of other people are saying it’s not a New Decade until 2021. Something to do with us not having a Year Zero. But are we certain there was no Year Zero or are we merely speculating? It’s all a bit like the Millennium when we speculated about our computers melting. So, going on the assumption that a New Decade is actually going to happen (unlike the computer meltdown), it’s probably quite a good idea to pause for breath and take a look behind…!
Ten years ago, I had just enrolled as a mature student at the University of Dundee. It was quite a leap of faith, because in order to go full-time, I had to give up my job in a pharmacy and find something that I could fit in around lectures. That meant either late night bar work or early morning cleaning. Being a lark rather than an owl, I plumped for the latter, although I did spend three months as the worst bar tender/waitress in Angus.
My abiding memory of cleaning is gazing longingly out of the canteen window in the Carnoustie Co-op watching the sunrise and longing to be somewhere else. My memories of Dundee Uni are coloured by a sense of optimism and possibility. Of course, it was hard work, but I’ve always loved learning and my MA opened my eyes to so many things. In fact, I think I’ve learned more about life and the way the world works in the last decade than at any other time in my life. By 2014, I was still there, studying for a Masters in writing practice. It very slowly dawned on me that I might, just might, get my writing published.
In the last four years, I’ve signed with an agent (the lovely Jenny Brown) and have published three books with Polygon. I’m currently writing my fifth novel, the second in my new Sarah Sutherland series (the first, Sight Unseen, will be out this summer) and I also have a non-fiction title all set to go.
I’ve been lucky enough to visit some wonderful places for writing-related events, such as India and Iceland and lots of places in Scotland that I’ve never visited before.
I’ve met the most wonderful people- fellow students, fellow writers, industry professionals, book lovers, booksellers, book bloggers, festival programmers and volunteers- an amazingly cheerful and dedicated community I’d be lost without, and that includes those lovely ladies Dawn Geddes and Elizabeth Frattaroli, my Chasing Time partners-in-crime! We’ve held quite a few weekend retreats and day courses at our wonderful Arbroath sanctuary. Watch this space for more!
Personally, the last few years have been difficult. I lost my father and my much-loved mother-in-law within twelve months of each other and another family member has been fighting cancer for over two years. I suppose writing is a bit of an escape, and while people describe me as being ‘prolific’, I think it’s more to do with the fact that time is so precious. Perhaps I have a sense of time running out. Here we are in 2020 already- how did that happen? So many ideas, so little time!
My New Year goals are simple- I just want to keep doing what I do, and maybe learning to do it better! Whatever stage you are on your own journey, writing or otherwise, may all your hopes and dreams be realised within the next decade. Happy New Year!