Wow. It’s 2017. I think I can safely say 2016 has been the fastest, most jam-packed year of my life to date. Many of us are glad to turn our backs to it – I am too, for the obvious reasons, but on the whole 2016 was a year that, for me, pretty much kicked ass. It's been too long since I posted on here though. I wanted to write this at the start of the year to reflect on what this last year has taught me and to acknowledge my thanks to 2016.
This past year has seen a lot of personal and professional growth and I’m incredibly grateful for that. It feels more like a decade ago, rather than a year, that I was frantically planning the final stages of the inaugural conference for the Society of Young Publishers in Scotland. When it came the day passed in a blur, but it was a happy blur with no end of satisfaction upon its delivery.
It was quite a steep learning curve to take on the responsibility of co-chair after just nine months on the committee. It really helped me to find my voice in a competitive industry and taught me the value of supporting those around me. There is nothing more daunting, in taking on a role of leadership, than the notable power of influence – and the responsibility it brings to lead by example – when it’s with an enthusiastic group of young and talented women. Being the very best leader you can be when you have internal quandaries and judgements to negotiate is no easy task. I tried my best to navigate the muddy waters, yet looking back, I was incredibly hard on myself.
During this time, along with my freelance contracts, I was also planning my wedding. I found it a real challenge to stay focused, positive and energetic about it; particularly as I was also in and out of hospital appointments and my husband-to-be was working every hour of the day. A challenge for anyone – and yet I really beat myself up when I felt my productivity slipping. This experience has taught me to be honest and to also look to others for support – it is possible to both offer and receive support at once. Yes, some might throw it back at you – everyone has something going on – but you will also find those who ask nothing and give everything to help.
But the wedding came around – and what can I say? It was simply the best day of our lives. The rest of the country rained whilst we stood in a happy bubble of sunshine, under our leafy woodland clearing, saying our vows in front of those we love most in the world. There is something quite miraculous in being too hard on yourself in the lead up to the one day that demands most ‘perfection’ from you. When you finally arrive, you know you’re not there to be perfect, or the best; you are there because on that day and in that place, you are loved most in the world. And you love more than you thought possible. It’s a very special feeling and it offers a lot of forgiveness.
Our three weeks of travelling around the US for our honeymoon gave us a distance, from everything; that was immeasurable. We are infinitesimal in the universe and knowing that is beautifully freeing. It was truly the greatest gift of all to have that freedom; to just be us with no limitations nor expectations. I remember reaching out over the edge of the Grand Canyon; to the moon and the stars and the stillness, grabbing a handful and putting it carefully in my pocket.
When you can stand back at peace, with time to asses yourself and what you value, it makes for a quick and effective re-tune! I was ready to grab the world with both hands. I joined The Fountain as a writer and reviewer, and I signed up to another project with PPA – marketing and helping to run Magfest. For three months I submerged myself in the challenge, and I reveled in it.
This opportunity allowed me to truly appreciate the power of mentorship and the importance of really giving support to all and any you can. There’s a saying that, what goes around comes around, and I really believe it. I have been so very fortunate to work with a mentor who holds my same ethos about life as close to her heart as I do. It can be a challenge to maintain this ethos when there are those (few) who don’t feel the same way and will knock anything out of their path on the way to ‘success’. Often, my approach can be viewed as meek; but in the contrary, it can be a challenging lesson to learn to continually output only the best, most constructive energy towards everyone you meet, when, inevitably, there are some whom you’d rather see the back of (or better yet, throw a punch at.)
The confidence I have gained in these last months has been catalytic and I look towards this new year with a rosier gleam in my eye. If you only give the world and yourself good feelings, you’ll eventually see that coming back. It’s very satisfying to look inward, have a prune here and there, and see the fruits of your labour.
So, this year, I am resolving to respond to the lessons I have learned: I will endeavor to follow my instinct, keep writing what I want to write, embrace collaboration, ignore the voice that tells me I can’t, and help those whom it’s possible for me to help. In 2017, I am writing with the aim of submitting for the first time; giving ideas a go – even if they might not work; and I’m collaborating with other creatives and artists in order to help them build new and fruitful relationships. And for the first time, I'm producing short ‘fly on the wall’ films, of my interviews with artists for The Fountain (and loving it!)
I'm allowing myself the time to explore the things that make me happy.
When you scale a mountain, no matter how tired you are or how blistered your feet; you are ultimately only grateful that you did it. Because it’s only after the climb that the summit offers life’s vista. In achieving the impossible our eyes are suddenly opened, and we can see farther than we did before.
And I'm looking right at 2017.