Blog,  Freelancing,  Journalism,  Writing

9 things I did not expect in 2017 & Happy New Year! I was kind of taken by surprise and gawping in shock most of the year to be honest.

2017 has been a year full of ups and downs.  Or at least for me, a lot of things that I well – did not expect to happen. Not to me. I am still quite giddy and grateful and in other ways also sad. We had a lot of unnecessary violence, hate and tragedy this past year.

I did not expect… so much travelling

I did not expect to travel as much as I did. I criss crossed Australia for the IPEd 2017 Editors’ Conference in Brisbane as a speaker and for the MEAA for union meetings.  You can catch up on my conference updates here.

I did not expect… to volunteer more with the union

I did not expect to be on a National Freelance Committee, to be elected to Federal Council and NMS and to also then be on an Ethics Committee. But I raise my hand as a reflex action and there I am.  Thank you to those who elected me – I will try to do my best by you.

I did not expect… my authors to be winning everything in sight

I did not expect to have my authors win awards – first with Theena winning the Fairway Literary Award in January then Amanda Jay announcing she was shortlisted for the same in May/June (we will find out in a few weeks if she wins it this year). And then Robin Bower and Christine Vandenbergh won  first prize in the Art Book Category at the Paris Book Festival for Senses of Paris.  I am so proud of all of you and also honoured to have been able to work with and edit your words.

I did not expect… to win anything myself

I did not expect to win a writing fellowship – in fact the very first one co-run by both Varuna and KSP Writers Centre. It’s the inaugural Foundation Fellowship and I get a subsidised two weeks – one at Varuna and one at KSP sometime in 2018 to work on a book. More on that, what’s involved and the book I plan to work on (fingers crossed) in a few days. But for now, I am still giddy and grateful.

I did not expect… to get Sedition closer to publication

I did not also expect to have Sedition done and dusted and in the hands of the very capable Zoya Patel, editress extraordinaire who seems to think that it has legs. Sedition was done earlier in the year but everything aligned closer to the end of the year so Zoya will be working on the book and I am excited and thrilled and if you are a keen publisher let me know: it’s 70,000 words, lit fic set in Sri Lanka and has LGBTQIA+ themes. And I have a diaspora I can reach.  😉

I did not expect…  a random new fan base – hello there!

I also didn’t expect to have 6000+ people watch me live on Facebook as I interview African authors doing important work. The videos are still up on Facebook if you want to go have a look and there will be more to come shortly. It has been massively educational to learn about Sudan and South Sudan and African politics, culture and history through these books and talking to these authors and I am grateful for the opportunity.

I did not expect… even more writing wins!

I managed to get some great writing done – more on that too in a bit. And the short story Before/After which some of you first read on this site in an early draft form, finally got published by a literary journal.

I did not expect… even more travelling

In terms of other adventures, I got to travel a bit more by actually driving across the country – Perth to Melbourne – in early August over the course of a week, through kangaroo herds, road trains and trucks and coastal storms. I also got to head back twice to Sri Lanka this year and travel by train around the country.  I am currently in Colombo right now as I write this, listening to a battlefield made of firecrackers.

I did not expect… for same sex marriage to get legislated but we got it through!

And a shout to the LGBTQIA+ community: I am sorry we had to put up with such homophobic nonsense but I am also glad we won the right to marry. Stay strong, stay safe and congrats to all of you who are getting married. <3

It is the New Year and 2017 has had its good moments for me personally and for others. It has also, as a year, given us some tragedies and ones we could have done without. I hope 2018 is better, much better, much less tragic and awful and that it is more hopeful for all of us.

So Happy New Year! And also to all the Sudanese and South Sudanese and others in this similar situation celebrating their birthdays en masse today – Happy Birthday! My thanks to Kuany Kiir Kuany for letting me know this.*


* For those of you who are unaware, prior to some time in the mid 1990s, Sudanese people did not or could not keep detailed records of births (there were a number of reasons for this). When the register was first opened, people were vaguely aware of a year or a month so everyone without a set date was given 01 Jan in their birth year as a birthday. Now about 90% of the Sudanese and South Sudanese population over the age of 27 celebrate their birthdays on Jan 1st. So Happy Birthday everyone in South Sudan, Sudan or elsewhere that went through similar circumstances.


You?

What did you not expect in 2017? What do you mark the year by? What are you looking forward to in 2018? Leave an answer in the comments.


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Marisa is a globetrotting freelance writer, journalist and editor with cat for hire (her, not the cat). She is currently based in Melbourne.

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