At the beginning of 2012 I was feeling a little bit nervous about the year ahead so I wrote my first annual general review. I’d just left the security of a permanent job to become a full-time freelancer and I didn’t know how things would work out. I hoped looking back would give me some confidence.
This year it’s different; I’m beginning the year with warmth. Quite literally – there’s a wood burning stove crackling away beside me. It’s new and I love it. I don’t have central heating so I’ve spent the last five winters feeling a little cold. Now, at last! I can afford to be a bit warmer.
I’m beginning 2013 with an inner warmth too. Perhaps it’s an assurance that things do work out when you step out in faith. Or a warmth that says it’s worth making sacrifices to pursue the things you really feel called to do.
I’m not long back from Kidscreen in New York. It’s a big children’s TV market (I wrote about it here) full of people from all over the world with ideas. They‘re there because they want to make something beautiful and something they believe in. It reminded me that life really is too short not to go for it!
And now to look back over 2012, here are my highlights. Click on the links to read more.
Children’s TV Commissions
- Writing 5 new series treatments for CBeebies science show Nina and the Neurons
- Developing 4 new science programmes for CBeebies
- Storylining 5 episodes for CBeebies science show Nina and the Neurons
- Screenwriting 2 episodes of CBeebies science show Nina and the Neurons
- Developing an Eco Comedy Drama for Visible Ink Television (and writing the show bible)
- Working with CBeebies online on an exciting new science project
- Training Edinburgh Secondary School Pupils to make videos and become social reporters at the Changeworks Make Waste History Summit
- Training 18 teachers in West Lothian to become storytellers
- Training third sector organisations in Digital Storytelling at the Social Media for Social Good Conference
- Training community groups and active citizens in Inverleith to become digital storytellers in partnership with journalist Tom Allan
- Training secondary pupils to make litter films as part of the Litter Innovation Project
- Training staff at Leith Library to blog and tweet as part of my Residency
- Facilitating reminiscence and creative writing workshops with Generation Arts
- Training after school club leaders and youth workers to become Crafty Storytellers in collaboration with educator Jaimie McDonald.
Audio and Video Production
- Live tweeting and creating audio and video content at the Parenting Across Scotland Conference (including interviewing the Minister for Children and Young People)
- Producing a podcast about home insulation for the Energy Cooperative
- Creating and sharing audio, video and photos during Book Week Scotland for Leith Library
- Greener Leith Zero Waste Podcast series (12 ten minute podcasts to engage people to reduce waste – I finished the last of these in 2012). Funded by the Waste Action Grant.
- Producing six litter and dog poo films for Greener Leith (Funded by L£ith Decides)
- Featured Poet at Blind Poetics at the Blind Poet, Edinburgh
- Storyteller for Electric Tales at the Stand Comedy Club, Edinburgh
- One of Ten Performance Poets with a ten minute slot at Ten Red, Edinburgh
- Spoken Word Artist / Storyteller during the Scottish Mental Health and Arts Film Festival at the Lapidus event at Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Glasgow
- Featured Poet at ‘Pea Green Poetry’ Fundraiser Gig for Theatre Paradox at Looking Glass Books
- Performer at Happy Verse Night, Inky Fingers and Illicit Ink event at Pulp Fiction Books, Edinburgh
- Performer at The Portobello Book Festival Opening Gala: The Library at Night (wrote a stop frame animation script for a competition)
- Science and Poetry Poet and Ukulele performer (Inky Fingers Minifest during the Fringe Festival)
- Digital Storytelling Workshop at Social Media for Social Good conference (Live streamed)
- Guest speaker at the Literary Salon (speaking about Readers in Residence)
- Recycler / jar washer on the council recycling promotional videos (featuring my hands!)
I was almost physically sick before my first comedy performance. I was so nervous but I actually really enjoyed it once we got started -the audience were fab. Here’s a Chris Scott photo to prove I really did it (thanks Chris). Find previous and upcoming gigs here.
For the Love of It (Voluntary Work)
- Commissioned by Artist Alastair Cook as one of twenty poets to write a piece of flash fiction for his PechaKucha film project ‘Twenty Second Film Poem‘
- Cycled down Leith Walk with camera attached to my bike basket to make an Indiana Jones style adventure film about the terrible potholes.
- Volunteered as a social reporter at the Poverty Assembly
- Wrote my last blog for Greener Leith in August 2012 after 2 years of volunteering (70 blogs in total!).
- Organised some get-togethers for freelancers called Freelance Friday
- Wrote my first stop frame animation script as part of a call for submissions on the theme of ‘The Library at Night’. It was selected to be performed at the Portobello Book Festival Opening Event.
- Helped to lead a weekly community group in Leith (that’s ongoing)
- Continued as trustee of the Speygrian Education Trust (artists, scientist, writers and educators interested in outdoor learning) and helped them to set up twitter and Facebook
I was one of 12 writers to be selected to take part in the CBBC Lab, a competitive entry training course on how to write for CBBC run over 4 days by the Scottish Book Trust and BBC Scotland. It was brilliant.
- Wild Swimming on the Isle of Eigg
- Walking and wildlife watching in the Highlands
- Exploring on the Isle of Skye
- Being a bridesmaid at my sister’s wedding in Glencoe
Things I Started
- My first residency at Leith Library (September)
- The Leith Library Blog
- The Leith Library Twitter
- Festive Furballs Christmas Pets Competition
- Growing tomatoes on my windowsill
- A log pile (for my wood burning stove)
- Wearing wellie socks
Things I tried
- Sick Kids Writer in Residence
- Heliotrope Writing Residency
- Olympics related poetry job with West Lothian Council
- To get mentoring with The Scottish Book Trust
- Internet dating
This is just to point out I’m definitely not successful at everything. There are plenty of things I hope for but I keep learning and trying. I applied for 2 residences before I got the one I’m doing now at the library but this one is just perfect for me so it goes to show things often work out for the best in the end.
People Who Really Inspired Me
- Elspeth Murray, a wonderful freelance poet. My poetry mentor and friend.
- Peter Hynes, a brilliant screenwriter and creative thinker. My screenwriting mentor
- Josh Selig, creative genius and President of Little Airplane Productions. Encourager.
- The women in my writer’s group, wonderful talented Marianne Paget and Mairi Wilson
- Sara Harkins, Head of BBC Scotland Children’s. Sara is wonderful.
I want to thank the people above as well as everyone I’ve worked with in 2012. Also to my friends and family and to everyone who’s supported me on this journey – you’ve been amazing!
2013: What’s ahead?
The good news is I’m booked up with commissions and projects until early September. So far I’ve completed my tax return, got a stove put in and I’ve been to New York to pitch some kids’ TV shows for Visible Ink Television.
I’m working 2.5 days a week at Leith Library as Reader in Residence. Over the next few months I’ll be writing the Leith Library blog and working with teenagers to make podcasts about young adult fiction. I’ll also be supporting the library staff as they get blogging too.
The library part of my residency finishes in June and then I have three months where I still get paid but I do my own practice. What’s that? Well… I’m considering:
- Starting a series of science related young adult novels; I have 13 planned.
- Rewriting my first attempt at a sitcom using feedback from the BBC and screenwriter Adrian Mead
- Writing picture books. I showed drafts of a science series idea to Agent Lucy Juckes in 2012 so I’ll work on her suggestions.
- Cycling around Scottish Libraries on a ‘Banana Me Beautiful on a Bike’ book tour. My paperback should be out by then and I’d like to go on a journey and help to promote positive mental health.
This March (a sample month):
I start working as a digital storyteller with older people in Govan for the Britain from Above Project – can’t wait for that!
I’m writing some episodes on commission for CBeebies (that’s secret – will blog about it when I can).
I’m visiting Flora Stevenson Primary P1 classes for their Book Week – hurrah for children!
I’m working for Third Sector Lab to create audio and video content and run a training session for the 2013 Poverty Assembly. Ross is brilliant, looking forward to working with him again and on something so worthwhile.
I’m working with P6 and P7 in Mid Lothian to help them to create Haikus for their litter bins (for the Scottish Poetry Library).
I’m developing and pitching some ideas to promote fish in nurseries on commission from Seafish (the fishing industry) with writer John Stoddart.
And I’m working at the library – I love it!
So as you can see it’s pretty busy.
One of my best friends gets married in September, so can’t wait for that (and I need to organise a hen do).
Hopes for 2013
I’m hoping to do the Great North Swim in the Lake District in June with my friend Judith. I hate wearing a swimming costume and I figured training will force me to overcome that fear. Plus I’ve never been to the Lake District and I like Judith. I also ate too much chocolate over Christmas. And exercise helps with creativity. I’m trying to talk myself into this!
I’ve written four children’s TV science shows so I’ll be pitching them to channels and independent production companies in 2013. I’ve especially enjoyed working with puppeteer Josh Elwell (and Bounce) on one of these shows so I do hope we make it!
Hopes for the Future….. I want
- to encourage others.
- to have an ideas box that I add to throughout the year.
- to make one day a week my day for writing.
- to write a list of things I’m thankful for every night.
- to go walking more.
- to start painting again.
I don’t want to EVER stop doing things that scare me.
And One Day..
I’d like to write an episode of Doctor Who and a bunch of books and some screenplays. I’d like to live in an eco home in the mountains with a cat and a man and perhaps some kids.
Finally a few numbers from 2012….
Blog posts on this blog (40), Blog posts produced for Leith Library (30), blog posts produced for Greener Leith (8), Dog Poo and Litter Films made (6), guest blogs I wrote (4), Cocktail naming competitions won (1) and I attended 4 weddings and a funeral.
Read my annual general review of 2011 here.