Oh writers, what have we done?

If you’ve been feeling, like I have, that you’ve failed to achieve all you hoped to this year, it’s worth looking back, just for a moment. Adding up all you’ve written, all you’ve applied for, all the work you’ve done towards achieving your goals. Maybe you’ve placed or been shortlisted in a competition, or had work published. Maybe you’ve written something that makes your heart race, something you know is good. Our milestones are so easily forgotten, as we constantly shift the goalposts.

Just now, I tallied up what I’ve written this year. Before looking, I would have guessed 3 or 4 stories. It feels like I’ve struggled to write, with more paid work, my kids needing time, a health issue, and life’s up and downs. I’ve been frustrated lately, thinking how little I’ve progressed.

And yet … I’ve actually completed 8 stories in the past 11 months. I’ve applied for writing fellowships. I’ve sent work to several journals, and entered a number of competitions. I’ve received lots of form rejections, a few lovely personal rejections, a highly commended in the Newcastle Short Story Award. I recently had work accepted for an anthology I’m really excited about. I finished a full manuscript. And I did 3 readings—2 for Amanda O’Callaghan’s book launches of This Taste for Silence (an absolute must-read), and one for Anna Krien’s Brisbane launch of Act of Grace (another wonderful book). None of this is astounding, but it’s decent. I’ve done plenty in 2019.

You’ve probably done way more than you realise, too, if you check. It’s so easy to forget our accomplishments and stew on disappointments.

And if you’re still unhappy with your ‘progress’, remember we’re all living with different demands. Some work longer hours, some have very small children, or lots of children! Some of us are carers. Some of us struggle with mental health issues, chronic illness or disability. We’re all doing our best, given our circumstance. And for that, we deserve to feel proud as 2019 comes to a close.

Congratulations to you — for everything you’ve written, for all you’ve endured, and for anything that has brought you joy.




9 thoughts on “Oh writers, what have we done?

  1.   Hi, Fiona, I’ve had several goes at replying on your blog, but they haven’t been accepted.  Thank you for this post. I really needed it. I’ve been giving myself a hard time because even writing a weekly blog has been a struggle this year. My husband has had a shoulder reconstruction, a hernia repair and an emergency pacemaker insertion, with complications. We’ve both had cataract surgery. I’m worn out, with no relief in sight. Your reminder has been timely and much appreciated. Warm regards



    • Hi Maureen, sorry about my blog misbehaving. Thanks for persisting to leave your message.
      It sounds like you’ve had a LOT going on this year, so writing as much as you have is quite amazing. I always enjoy your posts and really appreciate them. Thank you.
      I’m sorry you’re worn out, and it’s not surprising. I hope you have some rest and relaxation over Christmas.
      Wishing you a much smoother 2020. xx

  2. You’ve certainly achieved a lot this year, Fi!

    I feel like I waste too much time staring out windows or browsing the internet but. recently, I printed out all that I’d written, and it was a lot more than I’d thought. It’s pays to do a stocktake every now and then. 🙂

    • Thanks Louise. And I reckon writing a novel must be such an endurance test – so many words to get down, and not many tangible rewards along the way. I’m glad that printing out your work this year helped you feel that sense of achievement 🙂

    • Well, it often feels like I spend my non-paid work days lingering on Twitter, eating snacks and washing towels, because you can never wash your towels too often.
      But yes, I have done some work in there, too, and it was good to realise that.
      Congratulations on YOUR amazing writing year, with much more excitement to come in 2020! x

  3. Pingback: Reflections and the end of season two – The First Time podcast

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