Reflections on 2018: A Year of Reading, Writing and Other Stuff

 

My previous two posts have been about the books I’ve read and enjoyed this year and about my own writing. And, in this my final post of the year, I thought I’d take a quick look back at how this writer’s life has been in general.

On a personal level, for me, 2018 – as it will have been for everyone – was a mix of ups and downs. And, out in the big wide world there has certainly been plenty to rant about. But I want to concentrate here on the smaller stuff and on the good stuff.

Here in the house, the 18 months of renovations finished earlier this month. Hurrah! It’s been stressful but worth it and our ‘new’ house at long last feels like ours. We have carpets! We have pictures on the walls! We have a home!

There have been parties to go to, music concerts and theatre trips enjoyed. There’s been quality time with family and friends – not least of which was the trip from our home in Scotland to Australia taken by me and the husband to visit our daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren. We had such a wonderful time and have so many precious memories. It was very hard to leave, but I’m already saving up for my next trip.

I also particularly enjoyed my visits to the Borders Book festival and to that other one held in the big city – the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

2018 was also an important anniversary for me. It is now 20 years since I had cancer – 20 years that I realise I’m fortunate to have experienced – and for which I’m very grateful.

I’m also very grateful to be able to spend so much of my time doing something I love. I don’t know what I’d do without my writing. I certainly can’t see myself retiring any time soon. It was wonderful to have Settlement – my new book – published in September, wonderful too to have it so well received by my readers. And I must also express my gratitude to my editorial team, to all the book bloggers and reviewers who took the time and trouble to comment, and most of all my loyal readers.

Next year I plan to do lots more enjoyable things, to read lots more books, and just to treasure still being here. And of course there will be lots more writing…

And so it only remains for me to say thank you to everyone who has followed, read and or commented on my posts during 2018. I wish you all a very Happy New Year when it comes.

As always, do feel free to comment below on how 2018 was for you and what you hope for in 2019.

A technicolour life in a dark November day

Darkest before dawn

It was quite a day today. A visit to the doctor, workplace stress, family strains, worries about the health of a loved one… This was combined with enough rain to make Noah take notice and enough cloud that it never got fully light. And I’m in the grip of one of my periods of insomnia.

The insomnia may explain the quirkiness of my thought processes – but for some reason it occured to me as I trudged on through this gloomy day that it could be summed up in a series of photos – black and white photos at that.

The photo thing is most likely to have been sparked as a result of the talk I attended on Saturday afternoon. The talk was by artist, *Nicky Bird and was arranged by  local arts organisation, Atlas Arts. Nicky is a photographic artist and she works with ‘found’ photographs. The black and white photos might have been taken  long ago and are no longer in the possession of their original owners – so the people in them are no longer identifiable. Or, the photos, although taken some time ago, are still in the ownership of the photographer, the subjects or their descendants. Either way these photos have their own very personal stories to tell – and, along with the landscape in which they’re set, are self-contained historical records. In their own way these photos are every bit as important as official portraits of ‘important’ people and events.

So what small personal history would the still, black and white shots of my day today tell?

Picture 1: Small figure – a woman –  swathed in waterproof trousers, jacket and under large umbrella walking in the rain under a dark sky.

Picture 2: Same woman in doctor’s surgery, sleeve rolled up, doctor taking blood sample. Both doctor and patient look serious.

Picture 3:  The woman – no longer in waterproofs – but in smart white blouse and navy trousers stands at a whiteboard in front of a class of primary school children.

Picture 4:  The woman now sits at a table in a classroom – no children are present. Several other adults also seated round the table. The expressions on the faces of the people tell a story of worry, pressure and stress.

Picture 5: The woman is with a man. They are sitting in a living-room. They are discussing a letter from a hospital. Their expressions are serious.

But this would not be the whole story. Because, later in the day, I was re-reading some inspirational quotes from Rumi, the thirteenth century Persian poet and I was reminded me of the importance of our attitude to events. We can’t control what happens in a day but we do at least have a measure of control over our reactions. The quote that jumped out at me was:

‘Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life.’

So let’s revisit the day – but this time we’ll pick out different scenes and they’ll be in full colour.

Picture 1: The woman is seated at a table in a classroom. Five eleven-year-old children are also seated around the table. The children seem to be listening to the woman talking. She looks relaxed. She is pointing to something in a book and is smiling.

Picture 2: The woman is a corridor in a school. She is talking to another woman – a parent of a pupil. The parent is smiling at the woman and is shaking her hand.

Picture 3: Now the woman is in the living room of a house. She is sitting on the floor and playing with a baby girl who looks about a year old. A young woman sitting on the sofa looks on. The woman’s smile is that of a besotted grandparent.

Picture 4: The woman sits on a sofa beside a man. The couple are looking at an email confirmation for a hotel booking for a trip they are planning to the city at the weekend. They both look happy.

Picture 5: The woman is sitting at a desk. She is typing on a laptop. She is obviously enjoying the act of writing.

I have so much to be grateful for. Awaiting important blood test results, the worry of the other half’s imminent heart surgery, a job with a lot of stress and responsibility, a dreich November day – all formed part of the day. But, so did a bit of a breakthrough in the learning of a group of my pupils, a conversation with the grateful parent of one of my other pupils, playing with my lovely wee granddaughter and planning a shopping trip to Inverness at the weekend combined with going to see ‘Skyfall’ and a stay in our favourite hotel in the Highland capital. And then of course, there was an evening of writing.

Life is good and it sure beats the alternative…

Be happy.

* Nicky’s website  is http://www.nickybird.com