Wednesday, 22 December 2010

My Life in 2010 – Footprints, Open University and Writing

It’s that time of year when things come to a close and we reflect and consider. Self-indulgent perhaps. Necessary though. I think. Especially for self-conscious, insecure and worried individuals like me. 

The year started badly. My mum died on 22nd January 2010. I don’t need to explain further, other than it was all complicated by the fact she lived in Turkey and all that goes with repatriation etc. This will be the first Christmas without her. In truth, since I was 17 we had not spent many Christmas together but to not hear her voice on the end of the phone will be hard this year.

But then came the positives. I don’t intend to dwell on the bad. 

Two days after my mum’s death, OFSTED walked into my children’s nursery in Hartlepool, unexpectedly, like they do. My sister was on bereavement leave and so was I, at my home in Scotland, preparing to cancel my business trip to the nursery and instead, go to Turkey. That aside, we managed to achieve an overall GOOD in our inspection. Marvellous!

Then in May we were shortlisted for the Hartlepool business awards. What an achievement. We didn’t win but to come in the top three for the categories of Best Small Business and Best Training Organisation was brilliant!

In June we were awarded GOLD in Investors in People. A huge achievement. Less than 2% of businesses hold this award.  

And then, when the accountant called us in to discuss our accounts, we found out we had made a good profit and had cumulatively turned over our first million pounds! Not that it went into my pocket of course, especially being a not-for-profit organisation (everything goes back into the business) but overall, since incorporation in January 2005 we’ve done all of this. We have gone from 12 staff to 36, had many improvements, own two vehicles and are the best nursery in town! 

Not bad for woman with no business experience when I set up the company and took over an ailing bankrupt business. Of course, I couldn’t do this without the great team that we have at Footprints Day Nursery. A HUGE thank you to them all. 

Then last week I received the news that I had passed my Certificate in Working Together for Children (level 6 England/level 10 Scotland) but not only that, I had finally completed my Open University BA(hons) degree with a FIRST CLASS pass! I started my first OU course in 2002 and it’s been hard work but so, so worth it. Beyond my dreams. I’ll be there, standing proud in a blue and yellow sash & gown in May next year with the best of them : )

On the writing front, I’ve had a number of things published this year: the dark, tortured type of stories that I favour, a children’s story and even a piece of Erotica due for publication in March 2011.

I entered/submitted to 169 markets. 

I have 21 awaiting results. 

I’ve had 24 pieces of writing accepted, which includes 4x 1st places, 1x 2nd, 2x 3rd and lots more shortlisted and accepted to be published. My work has appeared in a number of anthologies and various websites.  In total I have won £340 pounds which is more than I paid to enter the competitions. I have had hits with some smaller comps/markets and also some better known ones. I target markets such as Global Short Story, JBWB, Words with Jam, Yellow Room and more. I enter the Write Invite competition every week that I can, at 5.30pm on a Saturday – I urge you to do the same -
However, is it worth it? I read a blog today by the very credible and noteworthy Writer’s Beware.

I ask you to read the last question Is it worth it? That’s what I now have to decide. Is it worth entering these competitions if they mean nothing? Am I wasting my time? I can’t do ‘literary’ and I can’t win the Bridport or Fish or Bristol Short Story Prize. What I can do is write like me. And if that’s not good enough, then I’m not good enough. But at least I had fun trying. 

I completed NaNoWriMo this year. That means I wrote fifty thousand words of a novel in November. A good achievement. I now have to finish the rest and edit for all my life is worth. Then try to find an agent. Then try to get published. I can only dream for now.

So – I’ve skipped over the bad, missed out the toils and troubles, and those ‘mustn’t be spoken of’ things in marriage that only couples who have stayed together any length of time have going on, and to speak of them would mean d-i-v-o-r-c-e.      

And when I tell you next year that I’m useless, can’t do it, not worth it, remind me of all of this. Not bad for woman living alone in flat at 17 in a terribly abusive relationship, living on a £25 a week youth opportunity scheme and no family for miles. 

So why do I still think I’m not worth it?

Raise a glass with me and take a look at this for a laugh

I wish you a very merry Christmas and great New Year 2011. 


  1. You've had one he'll of a year Effie and it's great to see you focussing how the good in the year, and though the pain and hurt events have occurred you can still deal with them but also see past them to the good you hold within you and what you do.

    That is a boatload of submissions you've done this year!

    Wishing a fabulous 2011 with many an exciting publication process in front of you. Keep writing and enjoy!

  2. Thank you Rebecca.
    Good luck to you too - look out for the targetting thread on Write Idea - here's to it! ; |)

  3. You've achieved an enormous amount. And one of my highlights of this year was to meet you and your lovely family. Thank you.

  4. Thank you Helen! I had intended to write about the #EdBookFest - it was such a great time and I met some lovely people - yourself included. Not to mention the lovely Mr Rankin ; ) But then I rambled on and then I posted this and realised I hadn't included it. Argh.
    It was certainly one of the highlights, if not THE highlight of 2010. I had one of my happiest times ever and certainly one of the best since 2004. Thank you.