What are the most important things?

I loved Abi Burlingham’s post Diary of 2014 so I’m shamelessly nicking the idea for the House of Dreams.

At the turning of the New Year, I always look back and take stock of the old, as well as focusing my goals for the year to come. In day-to-day life, it can sometimes feel like work is the most important thing, but when I look back, I can clearly see it isn’t.

So here are my highlights of 2014.

January

I started the year with a new experiment – two Saturday workshops, ‘Writing the New Year In’ and ‘Under the Ice: Writing in the Chilly Heart of Winter.’ I always enjoy bringing people round my kitchen table to write, and eating together in the middle of a whole day’s writing turned out to be icing on the cake.

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I’ll definitely be offering more Saturday workshops in 2015.

February

I met up with lots of writing friends at the Scattered Authors Conference in Peterborough. Peterborough’s a long way from Cornwall but the drive took me within a hop skip and a jump of Oxford, so I stopped off on the way home to spend the afternoon with my younger daughter.

Wittenham Clumps
Wittenham Clumps

 

We had the most delightful evening walk on Wittenham Clumps and supper in a riverside pub.

March

My birthday is in March, and I love my birthdays, however many I have. All my kids came down to Cornwall, plus their partners,  and we had a really fun few days just messing around.

My cake – fresh strawberries and cream, and very glam candles

April

In April, I finally decided enough was enough with trying to get permissions for all the quotations I wanted to use in Writing in the House of Dreams, which was a great relief.

I substituted the ones I hadn’t been able to get permission for with some quotes from older books which were out of copyright. I will never write another book with lots of quotations – I’ve blogged about it here.

I joyfully embarked upon the actual publishing process, finding an editor and a designer for the covers and layouts.

May

A trip up to London to visit my sons was definitely the highlight of May, and while I was there I stayed one night with some great friends who years ago were my editors, and had lunch the next day with writing friend, Jennie Walters.

June

Time to shake out the tent for the first camping trip of the year! I met up with some friends down at the far end of Cornwall in Treen. The last time we camped together was a couple of years ago at Scourie, on the North West coast of Scotland.

Fabulous campsite, fabulous beaches, fabulous night at the Minack, just a short walk across Porthcurno beach from the site. I also felt comparatively efficient for a change, because they forgot their tent poles!

Walking down to one of the beaches near Treen
Walking down to one of the beaches near Treen

July

July started with the Scattered Authors’ retreat at Charney Manor in Oxfordshire and finished with a glorious couple of baking hot weeks in the tent on Coll and Tiree.

Last evening on Coll - a good book and a comfy cafe. Bliss!
Last evening on Coll – a good book and a comfy cafe. Bliss!

When I’m camping on my own, I find lots of people talk to me, so it can be surprisingly sociable.

August

On up from Coll and Tiree to Orkney to stay with my older daughter and her partner, before cramming ourselves and all our camping gear into her little car and taking the ferry to Shetland.

Westsandwick beach on Yell, where we spent a few hours instead of walkingg on, because I fell down a rabbit hole and hurt my leg :(
Westsandwick beach on Yell, where we spent a few hours instead of walkingg on, because I fell down a rabbit hole and hurt my leg 😦

Baltasound in Unst, where we were camping, made the national papers for rainfall the first night we were there. But on the upside, we happened to be camping in the garden of a hostel with a warm kitchen and a big washing machine, so we had lots of tea and toast through the small hours with other campers who had also got flooded out.

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September

Home again, and a frantic time getting ready to launch Writing in the House of Dreams.

I got the covers and edits for my next children’s book, The Binding and remembered how much easier it is being published when you’re not doing everything yourself!

October

My book launch! Three of my children made it, coming down from Orkney and London, and so did my ex husband, from Brighton. Our youngest had just started a new job and unfortunately couldn’t get any time off.

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I was really grateful to have them there because launching my child-of-the-heart book into the world turned out to be really emotional.

November

Some very enjoyable promotional events for Writing in the House of Dreams, including a day in Totnes Library and an evening at View the Gallery, two of my favourite places, run by two of my favourite people.

Then there was a weekend at Daymer Bay with a dozen friends, which was brilliant, and a weekend of sacred and spiritual singing at Cullacott Manor with ace singing teacher Abbie Lathe, where we chanted by candle light for an hour or more between workshops. Magical.

Chanting by candlelight
Chanting by candlelight

December

Well, December’s all about Christmas, isn’t it? Family and friends. Looking back over my year I guess it’s pretty clear that those are, as they always have been, my most important things.

This year's tree - I'm going for the understated look!
This year’s tree – I’m going for the understated look!

When I started this post, I was intending to tell you about the highs and lows of my working year, but you already know about that if you’ve been following my blog.

The main problem in 2014 when it comes to work has been that I haven’t managed to finish the book I began writing in January When a Writer Isn’t Writing: How to beat Your Blocks and Find Your Flow because of all the new things I’ve had to get my head around with learning how to self-publish (ironic, given the subject matter!)

I’m not sorry I put so much time and effort into learning about self-publishing. I think it will free up and enable my writing from here on in, because I won’t have to be so tied to trying to please the market. I can be more adventurous.

But I feel very frustrated that I’ve only had a few months in the whole of the year when I was able to fully immerse myself in new writing.

I can’t wait to get back to it in 2015.

Thank you for visiting the House of Dreams this year. May 2015 bring you lots of happiness and new creative adventures.

 

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10 thoughts on “What are the most important things?”

    1. Thank you, Carolyn. One of the reasons I love New Year is it’s a chance to gather in the good memories from the outgoing year, to take the learning from the bad and let them go. Your blog and fb page have been some of my favourite online haunts this year, and I see from your newsletter that 2015 is already full of promise! 🙂

  1. Jen, I am an honoured to be mentioned in your yearly round-up! Our lunch was a highlight for me too, and your post is a timely reminder of the importance of friendships. Hope 2015 is a great one for you, and looking forward to our next lunch!

  2. Jenny, I really enjoyed reading this – much resonance with your trips away camping, both Treen and northwest Scotland (though I’m cheating now with an old VW campervan).

    Wanted to tell you I don’t know who I missed your event in Totnes bookshop; and also to say I sent your new book to a friend in Switzerland for Christmas – she’s been hugely inspired by it.

    All best for 2015 –

    Roselle

    1. Hi Roselle – I always assumed you had a connection with the North of Scotland because of your workshops in Iona and Moniack Mhor. I only discovered Treen myself this year, but what a gem! Thank you so much for buying my book for your friend, and for passing on such lovely feedback. That’s really wonderful to know. The very best to you too for 2015 x

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