Yet another turbulent year for the rest of the world for many reasons, but I’m lucky in that I’ve not suffered the brunt of this cost of living crisis. Sure, I keep my heating off when I can and I’ll be spending most of this winter wrapped up in layers, blankets, and dressing gowns. However, I’m in a privileged place in that I’m not in survival mode. My heart goes out to everyone who is suffering and I hope that this dystopian nightmare stops soon.
If you’re reading this blog post you’ll probably be here for my slightly self-indulgent yearly retrospectives where I talk about what I’ve been doing with my writing in 2022. This year, I have mostly been focusing on my larger projects like my poetry collection and my short story collection. I made a lot of changes to how I approach my writing this year and decided to shake things up.
I have written and edited 11 short stories for the collection, with a queue of more first/second drafts still to tweak. Some of my short stories have more moving parts than others. The one I’m working currently will take me into 2023 is novelette length and experimental. In any case, I’m looking forward to sharing them with you when the time comes.
I have also updated the website slightly. I had the same layout for over 5 years and it badly needed updated. I have moved my fiction and flash fiction sections to make it less prominent, though will still be available to read shortly. These stories were written a long time ago and no longer represent my style of writing nor will they appear in the collection. I have kept them up to be transparent with my audience and to look back on how I’ve developed as a writer. If you’re curious to see that time capsule, you can find it here.
Poetry and Words and Music
Words and Music came back to MILK Café in April, just in time for our 32nd birthday. It was lovely to share the cake I bought at last! I started a mailing list to alert those who aren’t on Facebook, so if you’re interested in being part of that, get in touch with us at our email address firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be lying if I didn’t say we were a casualty of the pandemic, even if we managed to survive it and power through with online events. A lot of people have suffered because of it. But we’re keeping on keeping on and looking forward to seeing you in the new year.
I dipped my toes into reading my poetry aloud in the wild again, though I didn’t go to many events. I’m still adjusting to being back performing in the wild. Talking to other writers at the Federation of Writers’ Tinsel Tales event in December, I found that I wasn’t alone. That was really reassuring, as I found being at events difficult due to self-doubt and anxiety. I’m glad I ended this year in poetry feeling good about my skills and I hope to do more gigs in 2023.
And finally, I have finished assembling my poetry collection. All I need to do is edit the poems. I’m hoping to test them out at Words and Music and other poetry events in the new year, so keep an eye out on my social media as I’ll be announcing dates as they happen.
As you may know, my boyfriend Alessandro Crolla and I have been doing a monthly podcast since October 2021. It’s crazy thinking it was a year ago today we released the first episode. It’s a video game podcast where live-long gaming enthusiast Alessandro takes me, a casual player, through a wide curriculum of classic games. I’ve had a lot of fun with it and I feel we’ve improved a great deal since our first episode. I feel we’ve got a good workflow and episode structure. I like how our segments are divided and I hope it will make for easy listening. I can stand the way my voice sounds now and listen in as Sandro edits, which is progress for me.
You can find a list on our Podbean page, as well as ways to listen on your streaming platform. This year, we covered:
· Pokemon Fire Red and Leaf Green (2004) on Gameboy Advance: I decided to embark on an ‘odyssey’ to take my favourites to the modern games because I love my little battle monsters so much.
· Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992) on Sega Mega Drive: A platformer that goes fast. A bit too fast for me. As much as there’s plenty to like, it’s sadly my least favourite game I’ve played for this podcast so far.
· Doom (1993) on PC: A first-person shooter where I trail through hell, kill everything in sight and end the game blood-soaked. Samsung’s podcasting was very good to us, as it’s our most popular episode yet with over 1,000 listens.
· Earthbound (1994) on SNES: A JRPG where you play as a child who is on a journey to save the world from the evil Giygas. It’s one of my favourite games of all time and it’s a shame it’s not more mainstream. (LINK)
· Street Fighter 2 (1991) vs Mortal Kombat (1992) on the Arcade: In this one, we played around with our format. This one was a double bill episode where we pit two fighting games against each other. It was an interesting experience but a tad exhausting and made for a behemoth to edit. Thanks so much to Kevin at NGI for loaning us a fight stick to get a full experience.
· Resident Evil (1996) on the Play Station 1: My first survival horror game. It was tense but had some funny moments. One of our longest but we had so much to talk about that we couldn’t bear to cut. (LINK)
Most of the work done for Kirby Superstar (1996) (recording, playing, researching and editing) was done in 2022, but the episode won’t be released until January 2023. I’ll save reflection on this one for then.
Each episode has a more detailed review of how I found gameplay and explanations of each game type for those who need it, so I highly recommend you check it out.
For a fuller retrospective and outtakes, check out our DLC episode which will be released next month.
Stay tuned to find out what we cover in 2023. Follow us on Twitter (@StarterQuest), well for however long that site stays up for. You can also find us on Mastodon or Instagram.
Blogging and Diary of a Young Writer
This year I mostly wrote posts reflecting on my degree, as I had graduated in 2021. Apart from that, I wrote a blog post about my chapbook, Keep On Spinning. This got very personal but because this collection is about my mental health, it was necessary. I also wrote a blog post updating about the 100 Rejections Challenge.
In May 2022, Canva congratulated me for creating 50 designs which includes Words and Music posters and poetry extracts as well as blog thumbnails. I’ve been having fun with these, though I probably won’t be making anything with lines of poetry in them for a while.
My last blog post for Diary of a Young Writer was published in August 2022. I’ve come so far since I first started writing for them in 2017 and it’s so fun to look back on them. You can find a more detailed blog post about it and a comprehensive list here.
Some of my favourites are on my Medium account, which you can find here.
Dylan from the Offshore Gamescast invited Sandro and I to contribute to their Games of the Year blog series on their website. Sandro wrote about his favourites 2022 releases, while I wrote about my favourite games covered in Starter Quest. Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to talk about video games!
The Offshore Gamescast leans towards current gaming news and reviews. If you’re interested in that sort of thing, I highly recommend you check them out here.
100 Rejections Challenge
I reached the 100 submissions mark in April, which I’m very proud of. It took me over two years to get to this point, though if I had been on it every single day, I would have had it done sooner. I don’t mind though. I’m at about 52 or so rejections so far. I’m just waiting for the other rejections to roll in.
However, this year I started hitting a brick wall. I knew when I started submitting to more paying markets, the rejection rate would be high. But I couldn’t help but feel like my portfolio needed another look and some edits so I decided to put further submissions on hold. I regrouped and focused on building the collections.
I may not start the challenge again for some time, but I will once I feel my new stories and poems are ready.
Work At The Music Shop
I started volunteering at a local charity shop once a week in September 2022. It’s a big step forward to me because I’ve been nervous about going back into the workplace after three years away from it. Aside from the obvious, it’s important to stay in the world. My experiences, both good and bad, informs and inspires my writing.
So, it’s good that I’ve got a job which has been a great experience for me. I feel wanted and useful every week. They’re very flexible and accommodating which goes such a long way.
I stay in the back of the shop handling stock, so you’re unlikely to bump into me. Recently I’ve been assigned to making collages for ‘lucky bags’, where you can get a mystery selection of LPs for £2. I’ve been told they sell out quickly and that the customers like my art.
Here they are. I'm proud of them for what they are.
2022 overall has been a productive year for me, despite my lack of social media activity. That’s something I hope to improve on over time, but it depends on my state of mind. It takes more time than one would think, but I understand that it’s an important part of a writer’s career these days.
I’ve been getting used to life without university. Having as much time as I want for my writing is great but organizing that time and carving a routine hasn’t been easy. It’ll get easier over time and I have been fairly productive despite it. This year I’ve been faced with how long a writing project actually takes vs how long I think it should take. As much as I tell my audience my writing goals in these posts, they are aims and approximations rather than commandments carved in stone. All sorts of external factors need to be considered, which is something I’m learning as I go along.
I hope that my short story collection and poetry collection will be ready to submit by the end of 2023, so I can start work on my novels. But we’ll need to see what happens. In 2021, I was convinced that after submitting my novella dissertation to markers that it was done when there was still changes needing to be made. I greatly appreciate the feedback. I’ll be taking each comment on board whenever I redraft it, though that won’t be for a while. I aim to keep Words and Music going strong with Gayle and to have another year working on Starter Quest as these are both very rewarding in their own way.
I hope that 2023 can be just as productive as this past year. Thanks so much for reading my exercise in self-compassion and for being a part of my audience. Hope to see you over the new year!
I tend to listen to new music while I'm doing admin and web tasks.
Here's what I listened to doing: Starter Quest research;