It’s an incredible time for me right now that feels like a beginning, more than an ending. I’ve just submitted my final piece of assessment of my Associate Degree in Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT. I should feel relieved, excited. I do, but there is a sense of sadness, and a great deal of reflection. There is also a nervous excitement about the time ahead of me, the unknown.
My last four years have been tremendous in all senses of the word. My life has changed in so many aspects, and lives around me have changed. Mum died, throwing my and my offspring’s worlds into chaos. My kids transitioned from children to teenagers, jumping normal adolescent hurdles, and fumbling through more tricky ones. I wrote a tonne of words and found a stable part-time job in the communications world.
During this time I also achieved a heap of things, and flunked at others. For those who love figures, like me, feast your eyes on these ones that I just came up with about the last four years:
- 128 books read
- 84 short story or non-fiction competitions, or fellowships or retreats entered
- 76 rejections
- 17 creative non-fiction pieces written
- 11 short stories written
- 7 freelance editing jobs undertaken
- 7 pieces of writing published
- 6 drafts of one manuscript completed
- 5 writers festivals attended
- 4 classmate’s novels launched
- 4 fiction manuscripts begun
- 4 writing groups
- 3 years doing Nanowrimo
- 2 teacher’s novels launched
- 2 laptops killed
- 2 writers retreats attended
- 2 writers retreats upcoming
- 1 non-fiction manuscript abandoned
- 1 literary speed dating event attended
Add into that the things I don’t have numbers on like how many books I bought or borrowed, how many friends I have made, the number of coffees or wine drunk, or hours spent in classes.
The point is that it has been a life changing four years. I’ve met some brilliant writers and editors along the way, found my tribe, been utterly challenged to the point where I wondered if I could go on, written one complete manuscript and the beginnings of three others, deleted tens of thousands of words and gained confidence to get words published and call myself a writer and an editor. And in the midst, I’ve had wonderful support from my tribe. I have learnt how to say yes and how to ask for help. I have learnt how to accept criticism (to the point where I wondered whether I had a tough enough skin to be a writer) and how to be critical.
So now I can ease into my ‘non-study’ years of living with the confidence that I know what I’m doing (some of the time) and that my buddies have got my back. The risks are loneliness and not having deadlines to keep me honest, so I’ve put some measures in place to help. I have my tribe to keep me from the lonely path of writing and I have a writing friend who I’ve made a commitment with. We send words to each other on Fridays. I’m in writing groups that force me to produce something to workshop. And this year I’ve also signed up for Nanowrimo (which is only a month of commitment to get a heap of words written in 30 days). And I’ve set my own deadlines to get my YA manuscript done.
It’s a great feeling finishing something tremendous, and even better knowing that this is just the beginning.