Stocktake on Words

Last year flew by in a clattering of keys yet when I came up for air, I had the sinking feeling that I hadn’t managed to achieve very much in the whole of 2017.

The paid writing jobs I managed to secure all proved to be temporary or short-lived.

My goal of making Fundraising Mums not only self-sufficient but profitable, didn’t eventuate.

I didn’t even manage to finish the full first draft of my novel.

I had all three children in full-time school. 2017 was meant to be my year. What happened?

With a bit of naval-gazing and some thoughtful words from friends, I began to put it in context.

Full-time schooling, while it might feel like ‘forever’ to a seven year old, is actually only 1,200 hours. When you start taking away travel time, parent help, pupil-free days, excursions, meetings, driving kids to PEAC and all the rest of it, you’d be lucky to get 1,100 uninterrupted hours a year.

So instead of moaning about it (which I do like to indulge in every now and then) I decided to do the other thing that makes me happy – write a list.

And this is what it looked like:

In 2017 I wrote more than 270 articles, for ten different websites.

As I typically write lengthy articles, easily averaging 1,000 words each, that equates to well over a quarter of a million words.

I also managed to write just over 57,000 words of my novel, so by my estimation I am well over two thirds of the way to a first draft.

My novel, with the working title The Teacher’s Story, will be my main focus in 2018. It’s not my story, but a story that feels personal – and I have a compulsion to tell it. It is based on the true story of the woman who lived in my house in the 1940s. Although my story is a fictionalised account of her teenaged years, I feel a real connection with her. We walked on the same floors, slept within the same walls, saw the same sunsets streaming through the same windows and heard the same rumble of trains at the end of the street.

Doris, and her fictionalised alter-ego Isabelle were probably what absorbed me most during 2017. The research of pre-WW1 Perth has fascinated me. I have decorated my writing space with images of the College where she studied, old road maps of where she lived, and pictures of people she went to school with. I have my Grandmother’s old clock and crystal, and framed the men who will be her beaus in the story. I know almost everything about her – except what she looks like. But that’s fine with me, because I will leave her undescribed in the book – so readers will be able to make their own image of her, and see themselves in her story.

So that, in a few hundred words, ties up 2017 and opens up 2018. Suddenly I am feeling a lot better about what I managed to get done, and what lies ahead.




Published by Shannon Meyerkort

Shannon Meyerkort is a Perth-based writer and storyteller

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