As we’re into the last few days of 2015 and the clock is slowly ticking down towards a new year, it seemed like a good time for the habitual ‘review of the year’ blog post.
Before writing this, I read through the post I wrote this time last year and it’s interesting to note the changes. Last year had more dramatic ups and downs than this one did, yet overall I was much happier. This year has been fantastic in so many ways, but I haven’t been able to recapture that general sense of wellbeing in the same way, which I think was primarily down to unhappiness with my work situation…but I’ll talk about that a bit more below.
The last few years have seen some pretty big life events, including getting married and buying a house. This year was much quieter; I didn’t even have a big birthday to celebrate.
But I’m healthy, happily married and have enjoyed some fun social events, so I can’t complain!
This has definitely been the most travel-oriented year of my life, which has been a real high point of the last 12 months for me.
We’ve enjoyed trips to Dublin, Venice, Wales, Cape Verde and the Yorkshire Dales, where we stayed in a fancy cabin for my birthday, as well as a sneaky blog trip to Liverpool at the beginning of the year.
I feel incredibly fortunate that I had the money and the annual leave to make all these trips possible. We’ve created some amazing memories this year that I will treasure, and I hope that we can continue to travel as much in the coming years.
While all our trips have been amazing in different ways, if I had to pick a favourite, it would be our Wales holiday, which allowed us to stay in a treehouse in the depths of the countryside. It was the most surreal but magical experience, and Wales was unbelievably beautiful. I spent most of the trip exclaiming to my husband, “Look at that view!” as we drove along winding country roads and through picture perfect little villages. We’ll definitely be going back!
So, 2015 has been another big year for me on the work front. Last year I started a new job, which I loved. But towards the end of 2014, the role changed and it became less enjoyable and much more stressful.
I’ve always been the type of person who struggles with the demands of work, and finds it hard to forget about the job when I should be enjoying my free time. That meant that I was fairly unhappy for a chunk of the year as I worried about what to do next. I didn’t really want to leave my job, as there were positive things about it, and I worked with a fantastic team of people, but I also couldn’t see myself continuing on indefinitely.
Then in September, I happened to see an advert for a job that really caught my eye. It was a promotion and would mean a move back to the arts, which is something I found really exciting. There aren’t many opportunities in that sector where I live, so I decided to go for the job, although I wasn’t really ready to move on.
But I got the new role and so far it’s been great. My new organisation is creative and happy to take risks, plus they’re involved in some amazing community and artistic projects. So I’m looking forward to seeing what next year will bring!
This was a big year for me as a writer too. In the summer, I won a Northern Writers’ Award for my novel, The Disappeared, which was a huge surprise. I’ve been entering those particular awards almost every year for a long time and never really expected to win.
So to find myself at an awards dinner, in a room full of other writers and publishing industry people, was thrilling.
Of course, that hasn’t brought me any closer to seeing my manuscript published, as there is still a lot of work to be done. But I have been able to have my novel read by professional editors twice this year – once as a result of the awards – which has thrown up all kinds of issues and areas to develop.
The first critique saw me spend five months furiously rewriting about a third of my novel, which was more challenging than I expected. The hardest thing was making the time to dedicate to the work. I managed it okay, but maintaining it over that period of time – along with blogging, work and general life – was very hard. I found myself getting burned out more and more often, while struggling to see the point of everything.
But that’s where the holidays came in useful – every time I got to the point of complete overwhelm, I took a complete break. Even a few days away from the computer, away from the blog and the novel, away from my job, worked wonders.
Now it’s time to start another draft and work on some more big changes to the manuscript. I’m feeling excited and apprehensive, but mostly I hope so fiercely that this time next year I’ll have made some real progress and be further on towards publication.
This year has been fairly unremarkable for the blog. Thanks to the various trips I’ve taken, I’ve written a lot more travel content, which has been fun. Apart from that, I’ve kept the blog ticking over, although in the last few weeks that has become a little harder.
I’ve been attempting to find a way to cut back for a while now, without doing anything too dramatic. December has been a particularly busy month, and for the first time I’ve simply not published anything new for a couple of short blocks of time. And surprisingly, I don’t feel guilty at all.
On the positive side, February saw the most read post I’ve ever published, which went viral and attracted over 20,000 people to the blog in one afternoon – a huge number for me.
When I break the year down like this it doesn’t seem like much, but there really have been so many great things this year and I feel very fortunate to be at this point in my life. Hopefully next year will be even better!
And in my final post of 2015, I’ll be recapping my year – in books.