2016 in Review
I want to start off 2017 by taking a look back at my highlights of last year. It’s been a while since I last blogged, so I wanted to fill you in on some of the things I’ve been up to…
Book Week Scotland
One of the most exciting things that happened recently was having one of my stories published in a book – A REAL BOOK!!
The book is called Secrets And Confessions and is a collection of short stories published by The Scottish Book Trust for Book Week Scotland. It is produced annually with a different theme each year and features unpublished writers from around Scotland. Anyone can submit.
My story was about skipping school, and I wrote it during a writing class I was attending at the time. The tutor liked the idea of “secrets and confessions” so set us the task of writing the piece as a homework exercise. As it happens, four of us from the class had our pieces published in the book!
We were all invited to attend the launch event in Edinburgh, where we got to mingle with other writers from the book, listen to some readings, and enjoy complimentary book-themed food and drinks. The best part of the evening was receiving a copy of the book, and seeing my name in print for the first time. I don’t think anything will beat that feeling… until I publish my first novel!
One of the projects I’ve completed this year is writing a biography for a client. I can’t say too much due to client confidentiality, other than that the client was based in Saudi Arabia. This was a huge challenge for me, trying to capture the essence of a culture and lifestyle that is completely different to my own in the UK. However, this is why I love my job – I’m always learning, and no two projects are ever the same!
This has been an ongoing project for the past two years, so I’m excited to finally have completed a final draft. The finished biography is almost 200 pages long, and is by far the largest piece of work I have produced to date!
Justice for Willie
Another project that came to an end in 2016 was the Justice For Willie Campaign, that I’d been working on for around 18 months. The aim of the campaign was to launch an investigation into the death of lawyer and SNP activist, Willie McRae.
Willie McRae was found slumped unconscious in his car, back in 1985, with a bullet wound to the head, and there has always been uncertainty over his death. The official verdict was suicide; however, the conspiracy theorists always believed he was murdered by the British state.
Personally, I can’t resist a conspiracy theory, which is why I became involved in the campaign. We hired private investigators to re-open the case and hoped to find new evidence that would point towards Willie’s murder. Unfortunately, after interviewing dozens of witnesses, we could find nothing to back-up the murder theory, and so concluded that suicide was the most likely scenario. I compiled two reports detailing our investigation, and there was also an article published in The Times newspaper.
Unfortunately, our findings weren’t received very well on social media and we were heavily criticised and slandered, mainly from people who hadn’t bothered to read the reports! A few years ago I received similar criticism when I organised a collection for Syrian refugees. It really can be disheartening, especially when you put so much work into something you believe in.
Will this stop me from taking on similar projects again in future? – No.
In my previous blog post, I mentioned that I attended a “speed networking” event at a business conference. Up until this point, all of my freelance work was sourced online, via job boards and social media. Face-to-face networking was a revelation for me, as in the space of 20 minutes I had secured four or five new business leads – a process which would normally take hours online.
Since then, I have attended a few more networking events and am quickly building up a list of local business contacts. My freelance schedule really went into overdrive towards the latter part of 2016, which is why I didn’t have time to blog – As any freelancer will know, paid jobs are the priority and anything else you just have to fit in when you can!
My regular readers will know that I completed the first draft of my novel back in 2015. Since then, I’ve attempted various edits and redrafts. However, I’ve sort of lost my mojo and inspiration, and things have come to a halt in recent months.
One of the advantages of having lots of writer friends is that during times like these, we can help keep each other motivated. That’s why I’ve made a pact with Dickson Telfer, who is also working on a novel at the moment. We’ve set a date (April 17th) to have our novels completed, and afterwards, will swap manuscripts and read/critique each others’ work. Watch this space to see how we get on…
I had a baby! A little girl, born on 29th December 2016.
This is the main reason I’ve been out of action for the past few months: finishing up client work for maternity leave and adapting to life as a new parent. It’s only been a few weeks, but it seems hard to imagine life without her. Finding the time to write while looking after a newborn is a challenge, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Life is pretty awesome right now.
My plan for 2017 is simply to continue to write and submit. I want to concentrate on my creative writing while still on maternity leave from the freelance/client side of things so, hopefully, I’ll still have some free time when I’m not breastfeeding or changing nappies! Stay tuned for further updates.
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