Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Reflections on 2007

Another hot Australian summers day, and suddenly it's 2008.

We set so much store in the transition from one year to the next, not because we expect anything to change from one day to the next, but because we must have something to mark the change that happens from one year to the next -- and that can indeed be extraordinary!

For me in particular, 2007 was a very big year of change. Three momentous things happened that have potentially altered the course of my life. Everyone's life is punctuated by milestones, often linked to starting or finishing studies or jobs, maybe the occasional holiday, births and deaths, or the achieving of long-sought goals. They are the events that shape us and define who we are.

1) My greatest achievement this year was finishing a draft of my novel.

I don't think I could have predicted, when I first picked up a pen back in January 1991 with the intention of "writing a novel", that it would have taken me 16 years to type "The end". The truth is that back then I was hopeless. Couldn't write anything worth reading, let alone publishing. Sure, I had friends who told me it was great, but either they were being kind or deluded. Nothing I wrote was any good.

I've needed the ensuing 16 years to hone my craft. To make mistakes and learn from them. To learn especially that writing a novel is far more complex a weave that stringing a few words together prettily. I could have made all these discoveries by writing a series of 3 or 4 -- even 10 -- very bad novels. Instead, I remained fixated on the one central idea, the same few characters, which have evolved over the years into the novel I have just completed. I have lost count of the number of "chapter 1"s I have written. Yet with each version/draft, there was a definite point at which I recognised the inadequacies and was compelled to restart, re-vision, re-create something better.

The journey is still not finished. Despite having typed "The end", there are still revisions and rewriting -- not to mention plenty of craft still left to master! But there is still the satisfaction of reaching the end of a story, so many years in the making.

2) My second greatest achievement this year was losing 25+kg, which rather speaks for itself! I'm still not sure what triggered the whole campaign, but it was certainly as though a switch flicked in my brain. Within the framework of the weightwatchers program, I was able to find the discipline to reprogram my eating and exercise into a healthy regimen. I now eat breakfast, have at least one serve of a fruit per day, drink plenty of water, eat smaller meals, and try to exercise/walk as many days as possible. (I might add that this has all been tested over the Christmas/New Year period.)

How will this change my life? Well, health benefits aside, being three sizes smaller can only make shopping a far more pleasurable experience!

3) The third big change for me this year was a change of ownership/management at work. This might not seem like much, but in a small company like the one I work for, where the team of 6-8 is almost like a family, it's huge. Although I will not go into details here, suffice to say that the transition has been interesting and has definitely impacted on my life at both work and home.

Of course, many other things have changed in addition to those three listed -- and changed for the better. Such as my parents' holiday house at Phillip Island, which provides both a family holiday venue and writing haven for me. Or my new TV & stereo. Or the spin-off writing group for novel-writers. Or friends' weddings. The list is potentially endless.

I am looking forward to 2008. Despite the arbitrariness of the date-of-transition, I always have a sense of resolve during January, as though everything that was put off during December can be put off no longer. We've managed to clear the festive season, so now there's nothing for it but to get on with it. Get on with the novel re-write. Get on with that proposed bathroom renovation that was supposed to happen last year. And now there's a whole year ahead. 12 months of possibilities and opportunities. Of milestones. Of change.

1 comment:

  1. Some huge changes there. And that finishing the first draft -- non writers may not know what a huge achievement this is, but it really is. Congratulations. May 2008 be even better!