2023 in review: All in a year’s writing …

 In All About Writing, Newsletters

 – Joanne Hichens

My year of writing: difficult, exhilarating, satisfying, frustrating, on track. The difficulties? I’m easily distracted by Netflix and friends and chores and generally living life. When I write a paragraph that feels honest and authentic, I feel exhilarated. Staying connected to my writing, means I enjoy a sense of satisfaction. And as long as I show up to the page, and keep going – on track – I’ll get there, wherever ‘there’ happens to be.

My major writing project this year has been a new memoir. For the last three years I’ve been writing and editing a sequel to Death and the After Parties.  It was supposed to be published this year, but it is simply not ready yet. Writing is hard road. We often talk of needing to keep our destination in mind. We travel the road bearing in mind the endpoint of the story. I sometimes feel myself becoming impatient instead of accepting that the journey will take the time it needs.

Another major project is Short.Sharp.Stories now going into its tenth year. It’s been an honour to work with over 200 short story writers to hone their tales and to feature their stories in anthologies. These anthologies, that call for South African short stories by residents and citizens, are exciting in that they’re home-grown: the settings are places we’ve been, the characters are our neighbours and people rooted in our communities.

FLUID was devoted to stories that embrace the fluid nature of humanity. Of course, we also want to have fun, and so the next anthology is titled YOLO. Seize the day! YOLO! We’re hoping this theme will inspire riveting reads.

Running monthly online AAW Memoir workshops has been incredibly fulfilling. Not only have I loved listening to the stories of others, encouraging participants to write those stories, but the workshops have been invaluable for my own growth as a teacher. The annual Barrydale Memoir Workshop, equally satisfying, was an opportunity to work closely with writers, to honour their stories and celebrate their courage in putting down those stories on paper. Thank you to all who have shared their writing so generously. I’ve been humbled by the honesty of participants and also the standard of the writing.

This year, with my personal work, I’ll be staying ‘on track’. Showing up at the page. I’ll keep going. As far as the teaching goes, I look forward to engaging with more wonderful writers.

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