I can't say I'm sorry to say goodbye to 2009. There have been some high spots but there were many more lows. Too many deaths of those dear to me and mine have made it very hard to maintain the enthusiasm I would have liked. But that's life, isn't it. There are good times and bad times and in spite of the losses there have been joys.
On the writing front I have had a patchy year. Deciding to concentrate on completing my novel and to move the sequel along meant that I had less time and energy to devote to short stories and poems. I've submitted less than I should have too although I did enter a few competitions and while I didn't win, I'm happy enough with the honorable mentions I received, especially those from Writers of the Future.
My time as an Emerging Writer in Residence at Tom Collins House Writers Centre was an undoubted highlight and I can't thank Tricia Kotai-Ewers and Pat Johnson enough for their help and encouragement while I was there especially as it coincided with a difficult period in my life. During the residency I completely edited my novel and the sequel came close to the half way mark - and has kept on growing.
In October Glenda Larke, Carol Ryles and I had a writing race aiming at each getting 30,000 words on the page in 15 days. None of us actually made it but the encouragement of knowing there were two other people out there working away at the same time was a wonderful encouragement as I balanced my lap top on my knees in bed with the worst back pain I'd had in years. In the end Glenda won with 17320 words, followed by me with 16601 and flu-ridden Carol just behind with 16000. In the circumstances not a bad result.
The formation of the Egoboo WA group in the second half of the year with my friends and fellow writers, Joanna Fay, Satima Flavell, Sarah Parker and Carol Ryles, was another huge incentive to get words on the page.
Once the idea of Egoboo WA was mooted we contacted ROR, a similar group, and they were of great help. Following their advice we each committed to having a completed novel ready for critiquing by October 22. It ended up as a total of around 610,000 words between us! That was an immense amount of reading in itself but then we had to write a detailed critique on each of the other four novels. Bear in mind we are speculative fiction writers so these novels were huge. By the time I had finished I had well over 12000 more words just in my critiques - and that's not counting the comments on the manuscript itself.
We Egobooers took ourselves off to Eagle Bay on the south coast for a critiquing retreat at the end of November where, in beautiful surroundings, we worked our little butts off. With two crit sessions of around two and a half hours each a day and using the Milford method, each of us was subjected to a detailed critique by each of the others. It's not easy to sit and hear how flawed your darling is but we did it - and we all agree that we learned an enormous amount. We came home armed with pages of notes and comments to work through. We also decided to set up a blog where you can read writerly things and follow the group's progress.
I've done a couple of reviews for The Specusphere - not as many as I should have, I'm afraid, which is a bit odd really because I actually enjoy writing them. I made a brief appearance on the Voyager Online blog and guest blogged on The Battersblog
At the same time as all this was going on, the KSP Speculative Fiction group has been expanding. We are welcoming new members at each meeting and on our email list. We're running another KSP Mini Con in 2010. Keep May 2 free, folks, if you are interested in a day where you can meet local writers at historic Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre. It's going to be good.
So my goals for 2010:
Finish the edit of my novel using the Egobooers' critiques and send it out. I'm glad I waited but now it's nearly time to fly. Just a little more flapping on the edge of the nest to strengthen its wings first.
Finish writing the sequel.
Follow my Clarion South mate, Chris Green, in aiming at 100 rejections in the year. His philosophy is that you have to be sending out to get rejected. He's right and that's what a writer should be doing do.
Get myself set up with an internet domain name and website.
Keep contributing to the Egoboo WA blog.
Attend Aussiecon 4 in September.
And above all else keep writing.