What a year

Everyone has had a hell of a year in 2020, lives changing in so many ways, and it’s been extraordinarily difficult for a lot of people. Health issues – mental and physical – have of course been highlighted for many.  On the more positive side, 2020 has seen an upturn in ebook and audible sales, something we writers should be happy about.   

My life has certainly changed, so it’s an experience I wanted to share, because unusually, 2020 has literally turned my life on its head – it’s been an excellent year for me.

At the start of year I was very down. I was working full time, it was well-paid and I could do it, but it didn’t do anything for me.  Add in a minimum of two hours in rush hour traffic commuting every day, and I was really struggling. It meant that I was just exhausted – all the time. My freelance editing work had pretty much dried up. I did however, have contracts signed in 2019 with two different publishers for four books, all of which were written in 2019, so only needed editing in 2020.

At the beginning of the year, I attended a writers’ conference, where I was basically told that the idea of a police procedural series I was working on would never sell.  So I left that conference totally disillusioned with the whole process of writing and publishing.  To be fair, this was not entirely down to the conference, mostly it related to the fact that my mental health was already in decline. So I was not in a good place and barely writing back then.

March was extremely difficult – I was suicidal. I had to be signed off work. Then the first UK lockdown came into force on the 16th. I was in no fit state to do anything, work or write. Taking advice on how to help myself with the depression, I did blog most days, never more than 300 words, but it kept the muscle memory of writing in place.

Slowly over the following months, I recovered some with my mental health and returned to being able to edit my own books, and eventually began writing again. I edited the books I was under contract for, wrote the last two steampunk novels of five, and decided to finish the police novel I was told would never sell, just because I’m like that.  I now have a contract for the final two steampunk novels in the series, and I have sent the contemporary crime to a publisher, so waiting to see if it breaks the previous assessment or not.

In June I was told that I was one of ten people put at risk of redundancy.  When they said at risk, there was no risk, I was being made redundant it was a foregone conclusion. There was of course a 12-week consultation period, and that consultation did include some exchanges about just how long I’d worked for the company due to changing contractual arrangements, which of course, affected my redundancy pay.

During the consultancy period, it wasn’t just the business I consulted with, but my husband.  Given how the exhaustion of the work, the not working towards the things I love, were all part of what drove me to depression, we agreed that returning to a 9 to 5 job was not a good idea for me.

From September to November, I had one steampunk novel out each month, and then a week after the last steampunk novel came out, my first standalone contemporary crime “The Chair” was published by new Welsh publisher Black Bee Books.

I am now a full-time writer and freelance editor.

This is what I have wanted for a long time. My original idea was that I’d spend the rest of 2020 undertaking study with the CIEP, and get officially qualified to do the editing work I’ve been doing for 7 years.

Then something odd happened. I had a message out of the blue, would I do a novel edit? Well hell yeah! So I took that on.  Then I had an email, would I do a developmental report on someone else’s work in progress – well okay then, big smiley face. I haven’t even advertised my availability, and I have already secured two commissions. Can’t get better than that can it?

2020 has seen my life change dramatically. I stopped the day job, started working for myself, work has swapped from being something I dread, to something I love. No way I’ll earn anything near of what I was on last year, but being happy is more important than being wealthy. Thankfully my husband and I are in a secure financial position, importantly I’m looking forward to 2021 and the years afterwards being good, allowing me to create and help others in the way I didn’t expect to ever be able to. Most importantly, I haven’t stopped smiling yet.

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