Dancing on air at Christmas

Someone posted on Facebook the other day that she had been feeling ‘old’, and then a friend had asked, ‘Do you really think your best years are behind you?’

I think this is a great question. We spend a lot of time not living in the present: looking back and regretting stuff, or looking forward and worrying about it. And yet often the present is where the best things are to be found, if we could just appreciate them.

This year has been a slightly unstable one for me. The first half was kind of down: I was going into a third year of no publishing contracts and feeling like I might be washed up when it came to writing children’s books. It’s all very well to tell yourself to ‘keep going’ but when everything is knocked back and you feel like you’re not paying your way any more, you do wonder if you’re just fooling yourself. I did start to look into other jobs. And then…

Well. Two contracts at once. And a couple of unexpectedly wonderful friendships. And my eldest daughter turning into delightful company and making me realise again what an absolute privilege it is to have children. (As well as reminding me just how little I know about the world: ‘How do you cook snails?’ ‘If you didn’t have nostrils…’ ‘Why do the bubbles in fizzy water climb up the straw?’ etc). And of course, my first e-publishing venture with Girls Heart Books – the really awesome GIRLS HEART CHRISTMAS, ten stories for kids aged 8-12, which is available on Amazon and something I’m very, very proud of.

Girls Heart Christmas - buy it for Kindle now!
Girls Heart Christmas – buy it for Kindle now!

Last week, I went to OUP for a design meeting. That was a first! Usually the author isn’t involved in design decisions, but because ELECTRIGIRL is half comic strip, and thus the story is told through pictures, I was there too (having written the story). It was SO exciting! Cathy Brett, my lovely illustrator collaborator, was there, along with Kathy and Gillian, our editors, and Holly, the OUP designer. Cathy spread all her sketches out over the table and we exclaimed over them in delight. How I wish I could draw!

Paper-covered table. Kathy explains to Cathy what she wants, while Gill looks on
Paper-covered table. Kathy explains to Cathy what she wants, while Gill looks on
Cathy and Holly discuss a particular drawing
Cathy and Holly discuss a particular drawing
L-R, Cathy, Kathy, me, Gill
L-R, Cathy, Kathy, me, Gill

It was a long meeting because we had a LOT of drawings to discuss, but by the end of it Cathy and I felt like we were on cloud nine because it was all so exciting and inspiring and creative and just downright FUN. We walked arm-in-arm down the road, just like this (Cathy DREW ME! I am so excited):

Cathy and me! (though sadly I don't actually wear such funky clothes BUT I WILL GET SOME IMMEDIATELY)
Cathy and me! (though sadly I don’t actually wear such funky clothes BUT I WILL GET SOME IMMEDIATELY)

Cathy was so inspired she blogged about it. And it IS lovely to be working so much as part of a team. Being a writer is quite isolating, and although you’re part of a process, you don’t usually get to be part of decision-making unless it’s about the text itself.

So as the year draws to an end, I feel very lucky, very happy. I have a wonderful family, some amazing friends, and a job that still enables me to make stuff up to make other people happy. Really, I don’t feel old, and I don’t feel my best years are behind me. Why would I, when life just seems to be getting better?

Happy Christmas to all my readers, friends and family. May 2015 be a good one for us all 🙂

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