It is the end of 2011.
And while that won't make much difference to aspects of everyday life such as whether to give the kids weetbix or rice bubbles for breakfast, and who had the Dora doll first, it does mean I can take stock of the last year and see what I actually managed to achieve in terms of my journey to becoming a writer.
I started the year by finding out I had won first place in a local writing competition, run by the West Australian newspaper. It was the first time I had won something and the first time I saw my name in print.
And I liked it.
I still remember the phonecall saying that I had won and to look out for my story the following day. I was so excited I was jumping up and down on the spot, not very subtle considering I was standing on the creaky floorboards. I am sure the woman heard every single juvenile jump, not to mention the smile which was threatening to burst the phone apart.
Then in June I applied for a writing job at Weekend Notes and started doing reviews for them, mainly restaurants and things involving food. My speciality. Seven months and 38 articles later, I am ranked in their Top 10 (Perth) writers and have even earned a few hundred dollars. This in no way covers the cost of all the breakfasts, lunch and dinners I have been eating**, but I am prepared to overlook this as it's all in the name of research. Right?
I returned to uni this year and completed two fabulous units - Creative Non-Fiction and Feature Writing for Magazines. Thanks to some inspirational and generous people who allowed me to tell their stories about miscarriage, grief and loss, I wrote two articles which are hopefully being considered for publication. Part of me felt unworthy of being the translator of these intense and personal stories of loss, as thankfully, I had never been in their shoes. Yet, the response I got from the articles, from those who had lived them, made me realise that I want to spend more time writing about topics people shy away from, ones they consider too taboo, too sad or too hard. Because there is a strength that can be gained in knowing that you are not alone.
I continued writing my blog, somewhat patchily I will admit due to a four month period of intense sickness. This will be my 100th post for the year, which has a nice rounded feel to it. I covered a range of topics including the renovations, Baby Number Three, returning to uni, parenting and my writing journey. My most popular - and commented upon - posts were about my decision whether to have a third child, and the creepy man at my daughter's kindy who was acting inappropriately. A big thankyou to my friend Rachel from 'Because I Said So' whose site has been responsible for many of my referrals.
So how will I finish the year? With another big smile on my face. A phonecall from my Mum this morning alerted me to the fact that another of my short stories was published by the West Australian today (page 46 if you're interested). I wasn't the winner this year, but at least they got my name right.
* I couldn't come up with a better title than 'Yay Me'. I feel rather self-indulgent today, and if I cannot eat my way through another box of chocolates, at least I can blow my own trumpet for a bit.
** Sincere thanks to my partner in crime Brad, who has sacrificed many a morning to come in search of the ideal breakfast location with me (and more often than not, paid for the privilege).