In hindsight, 2018 hasn’t been the year I expected it to be. In January, I was hopeful that this would be the year that my own identity emerged from beneath that of my children’s, and I was looking forward to finding my dreams and following them. I thought that all of this would come from writing and editing my novel, before sending it out to agents or publishers. In essence, I had pictured being the proud owner of a finished manuscript by the end of the year. I don’t have a manuscript ready to submit (yet), but I have discovered some space to find myself and think about the future.
In the spring, I sent my first draft out to five friends and was incredibly grateful when they all returned helpful, constructive feedback. I took my time to take their thoughts on board, making a number of plot changes including whole chapter removals and additions, structural changes and seemingly never ending tweaks to wording, tense and pacing. On reaching the end, I re-read my novel and knew that something wasn’t right. A major change was still needed and I wasn’t ready to send it out. I felt demoralised. I decided to leave my novel alone for a while whilst I thought about the changes I needed to make. That was six months ago. Whilst the novel remains unfinished, once I am in the right place to focus on making the changes I hope that it will not be too far off being ready to submit.
When I first looked back on my thoughts from January 2018, I felt like I had failed to find myself. In the last few weeks I have realised that carving out time for myself has come in a way that I did not expect it to. I may not have submitted a finished manuscript, but I have picked up an old hobby and come to love it again. In March, I started an eight week running course and have continued running every week since it ended. I’ve run through the snowy spring days, the intense sun of the heatwave, in broad daylight and pitch black. I’ve pounded pavements, run through fields and followed the shore from one peninsula to another. I’ve clocked up over 350km. After each run I’ve come back feeling calmer, happier and with a clearer head. Each run has given me time to think and plan, and some much needed peace and quiet. My children know that I disappear for an hour to go for a run, and I hope that my positivity for running will filter down to them. As they grow, I hope that they will not lose their own love of running, cycling, dancing and scooting.
This year I have also managed to find more time for reading. I am grateful for the many pre-and post- publication novels I have received from publishers in exchange for reviews, and have also bought some great books based on recommendations from friends. 55 books later, I have spent hours in other people’s stories. I have reflected on the methods different authors use to tell a story, the plots and twists, and thought about new ways of telling my own story.
Life has continued on; almost every day has been consumed by motherhood. But this year it has started to feel different. I have found a little bit more space for myself in running and reading, even if my own writing has taken a back seat for six months. I still believe in my book, and perhaps 2019 will be the year I’m ready to make the changes it needs to get closer to approaching agents and publishers. Whether I achieve this or not, 2018 has been a year of personal growth, of finding my strengths and discovering ways of being a mother and myself, too.