...at this time of year, I guess everyone gets a bit introspective about the year that was, and wonders a bit about the year that is to be. My year that was has had its ups and downs, with two books published and another under contract bringing me a great sense of achievement and happiness, but there were some sad events for our family, too. With this in mind, I'm ready to take on the new year, and look forward... and these are my (slightly convoluted) thoughts about the year that is to be:
Like every writer – like every person – my life is made up of interwoven roles, each of them making me who I am, for better or for worse!
In those teenage years that seem so far away now – but, hey, didn’t that just happen yesterday? – if anyone had asked me what I wanted to do when I left school, the only answer I had was that I wanted to have a family and I wanted to write books.
Come to think of it, they did ask me, and I quickly learned to keep the bit about writing books to myself. The indulgent smile that I often got in response quickly told me that they saw that particular goal as akin to the five year old who would promptly answer that he was going to be an astronaut and fly to Mars when asked what he would like to be when he grew up.
It was the Seventies, too, so aspiring for a family was not quite the politically correct thing to do. Not until you had settled into your Career.
The only thing I really knew was that I didn’t want to be a teacher. My father was a teacher and I saw how much of his time, energy, and passion he put into his vocation.
Oh, yes, as a family, we had the best summer holidays because we would be able to jump into the car and drive away to interesting destinations without worrying so much about time, and let’s face it, his career had taken us to some amazing and far flung places around the globe, including bringing us here to Australia, but, no, the hours he spent, preparing, marking, worrying... that wasn’t for me.
Sadly, the career’s adviser at my school could only suggest I become a Maths Teacher (Maths! Oh, my, G... did they know how much I hated Maths?) ... apparently because I was pretty good at Music, and we all know that people who are good at Music make the best Maths teachers!
I guess I could count. The fact that I spent most of my Maths lessons gazing out the window at the not-too-distant sea, making up stories and wishing myself elsewhere, did, however, not count.
Summer holidays... what I was probably thinking about in Maths
Never particularly practically minded, by the time I got to University, it was all about Literature and Medieval Studies. I had a go at French, but I am not linguistically gifted, and it was only fair on the long suffering teachers that I give it a miss beyond my first year, and so I delved deeper and deeper into that medieval world, and even the literature that I fell in love with tended to be written in Middle or even Old English. Shakespeare was positively modern!
This was not leading to a Career. Although, I will say, quite strongly, that I don’t believe that that is what University is (should be) for... Uni is about Education. Leading towards Light.
These days it is all about career.
Anyway, I digress.
Long story short, I became a teacher (I did try to resist, honest... but it was in the genes!). Not, as you might think, a teacher of History, which remains my passion, but of Primary School children, which is a privilege.
And I did everything back to front, by marrying and having my children first, and going back to Uni to study to be a teacher later.
Later, I took my pens and paper out of the closet and got back into writing (which had been sidelined after my first and rather devastating rejection at the grand old age of 22, where it had been suggested, perhaps kindly, that I need to develop some life experience and, aha, learn my craft).
So here I am: wife, mother (and grandmother), teacher, writer, dreamer, storyteller. I am a daughter and a sister, and I am quite possibly the worst ever housewife on the planet, with little in the way of domestic goddess amongst my genes (that part of my DNA was all teacher!).
And I am a learner.
All these roles weave together, to make me.
We all need to take time to let all the threads of our lives make up the pattern that we want it to be.
There are times when one thread has been thicker than others for me – the early years with my children, when I was a stay-at-home-mum, that strand was thickest. For them, I have been a fighter, too.
Teaching – that career I was never going to have – can be very pervasive, blanking out huge parts of the fabric with its pattern – as I surmised all those years ago, watching my father so often seated at his desk until late into the night. But it remains a thread that I value.
And sometimes there is a time when you have to just be, and let the threads weave themselves. In that, I bow to a greater power, whether you call it God, the Universe, the Force, Nature, Fate, or whatever. Perhaps the Weaver. With a capital W.
A greater power.
But, at the moment, and with a New Year in front of me, I am taking hold of the threads and learning to weave a new pattern. Make it bolder. Add more writing colour to the weave.
Okay, I don’t think the finished fabric is going to be a neatly laid out tartan, it's all a bit more free form than that... but...
Some people have new year’s resolutions. Some have a word.
This year I have chosen a mantra:
I am the weaver.
Oh, and go the five year old who wants to fly to Mars! You can do it!