My Writing Year Reflection

What is so special about Kathryn’s writing year?’ I hear you ask.

‘Well, nothing and everything’, is my reply.

Nothing… because I didn’t come close to achieving my writing goals for the year.

Everything… because there were some surprising adventures – writing-related and otherwise.

When I wrote of my previous writing year last February, I lamented not keeping up with regular postings on this website… and alas, here I am again acknowledging more of the same.

After the devastation of, and climbing back from, the fires; coupled with the trauma and uncertainty descended upon everyone by COVID the previous year, 2021 started on a note of optimism. The first three months passed unremarkably. We resumed our weekly commitments, had our hair cut after a year of growth and set about re-establishing routine appointments.

Life was unfolding as expected until I received a phone call every woman dreads ~ from BreastScreen NSW. There began a journey like no other… my life had changed forever.

As we transition to 2022, I have reason to believe that all cancer was removed with good margins and radiation therapy has set me up for no return of the Big C. Anti-cancer medications, physiotherapy and lymphatic drainage are here to stay… but the cancer itself is not! And that is the bottom line of 2021. I am rejoicing in being alive…

…and also in the writing achievements I managed despite my medical challenges:

  • Early in the year, I put considerable effort into re-writing and pursuing publication of my memoir, BookEnds; and was close to success when I had to temporarily lay it aside. My plan now is to publish within the next year.
  • I worked to extend the poetry chapbook manuscript that I am planning to publish, however more work is needed on this writing project.
  • Then came the tremendous privilege of being selected to be on the judging panel of the 2021 E M Fletcher Writing Award, on behalf of Family History ACT (FHACT). The competition closed a week before my cancer surgery, so I spent my recouperation time reading, assessing and grading 124 entries… and then collaborating with the other judges to negotiate a short list and the place-getters. I felt honored to announce the winners on a huge Zoom conference just days before the start of my radiation treatment in Canberra.
  • My story, Survival, which took out a Commended place in the 2020 E M Fletcher Writing Award, was published in The Ancestral Searcher – the quarterly Journal of the Heraldry & Genealogy Society of Canberra Inc (HAGSOC) – now Family History ACT (FHACT). Survival later appeared in the book Every Family Has A Story ~ Short Stories from the 2020 E M Fletcher Writing Competition.
  • The Casino and District Family History Society (CDFHG) also published Survival in their quarterly newsletter in November 2021. They had previously published my short story, All At Sea, which won the inaugural E M Fletcher Writing Award in 2019.
  • The story I had written for this year’s award was set aside when I was asked to be a judge for the Award… and is waiting for entry in a future competition.
  • My writing year ended with a small win. I’d entered a Flash Fiction Competition on the spur of the moment, when I read about it within hours of the entry deadline. The task was: Write 30 words to celebrate 30 years of Writing NSW… and, as I was there right from the beginning, I wrote 30 words about going to Rozelle Psych Hospital in 1991 with a group of people to assess a building for the establishment of The NSW Writers’ Centre, as it was first known. My piece titled Day One, won, and I won $30 for less than 30 minutes work ! ! (Just a few minutes, actually!) Here ’tis…

Kate trails the group scrutinising the empty building. She imagines writers gathering, their energy warming huge rooms currently frigid with anguish and misery of past occupants. Hope fills her heart…

Despite the ups and downs of 2021 and the struggles of cancer and the ongoing COVID threat, I am encouraged and enthusiastic to get back to work after the holidays.

Meanwhile, I am spending a few days – the transition from one year to the next – sharing my writing room with two very special people. While I am writing this blog, my daughter sits at the other side of my desk reading my memoir manuscript, and my granddaughter writes in her journal and reads. The room is filled with quiet companionship and love.

c.  Kathryn Coughran ~ 2nd January 2022


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