I woke up at 6:30 this morning, took three plump strawberries from the fridge, and went for a walk along the Yarra.
Back when I was at uni, I had a New Year’s Day ritual. I would travel to the Botanic Garden or somewhere similarly verdant, and leave a small offering for the new year.
I went back to uni last year, to study my Masters in Information Management. And when I woke up at 6:30 today, I decided to revisit my old ritual.
The streets were almost empty. The river was quiet. I left the strawberries in the crook of a tree. As I stood up. I heard a loud *CLOMP* in the water, and an Eastern Water Dragon startled away.
I don’t believe in omens. But a dragon was a lovely way to start to the year.
2017 was a year of change. I started my Masters in library science. I left my employer of 18 years. And I self-published a novel.
2018 will be the year of working hard to make the most of all those changes.
THE BIG STUFF
I went into 2017 knowing that I would be made redundant at the end of June. I’m really proud of the work my team and I did in wrapping up our department. We could have just phoned it in. Instead, we worked our guts out and walked out with our heads held high.
I started my Masters of Information Management at RMIT in February. Returning to academic study after 20 years was challenging but invigorating. It convinced me that I’m on the right track.
I applied for a 12 month Project Management contract with the National Library Australia, and was interviewd for the role, but was not successful.
I did some contract work for my old boss.
And then the Regional Manager for OCLC was a guest speaker in my class.
I’d first heard of OCLC in first semester. They sounded like a company that I might want to work for one day. So I asked their Regional Manager if I could chat with him about working for OCLC one day in the future.
It turned out they needed someone to manage their customer support team straight away. After a couple of weeks of interviews, I had a new job that was the perfect overlap between my past as an IT manager and my future in libraries.
It’s been intense, not least because the Regional Manager position was made redundant on my one month anniversary, and the team leaders have had to take on that responsibility.
But I’m thriving. There’s a lot of good I can do at OCLC, and there’s a lot I can learn about the library world while I’m there.
I made the decision to self-publish my grunge-rock ghost novel The Stray Swans in 2017. My plan was to have it out by April. It was actually launched in November. Again, it was a lot of work, but it was worth it.
We book a table for the Festival of the Photocopier this year too. I wrote a new zine for it: TALL SAD GIRL AND SHORT PUNK GIRL ARE FRIENDS. It started as a joke on Twitter and turned into something I’m really proud of.
It was great finally get The Stray Swans out too, and the book launch was lovely. But I’ve been itching ll year to start writing something new. That will be one of my goals for 2018.
FESTIVALS, CONFERENCES, ETC.
I only went to one event at the Emerging Writers Festival: a workshop on writing fantasy run by C. S. Pacat. Who is both charming and sharp as a sabre.
I attended my first Reading Matters, which is a delightful mash up of my interest in writing YA and my interest in libraries. I bought a pile of novels there, only one of which I actually managed to read.
At the end of September, I flew up to Sydney for the ALIA Library Technicians Symposium. I’m not a library technician, but it was a cheap conference, and a good excuse for a holiday in Sydney, and I got to meet lots of lovely lib techs.
FInally, this year was Lisa Dempster’s last year directing the Melbourne Writers Festival. I’ve been following Lisa’s career for about 8 years now. Every festival she manages to include one or two guests that feel like they were booked just for me. This year, she did it again: Laurie Penny was back. I got to chat with her, and give her some zines, and she even gave me a quick hug on the last night.
Which is pretty much what I want out of a writer’s festival.
- Amanda Palmer (Jan 19 at the Gasometer, Mar 10 at the NGV Friday Night, also in conversation with Missy Higgins at the Astor Theatre)
- Nick Cave (Jan 27 at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl)
- The Damned (Mar 12 at 170 Russell)
- The Mountain Goats (Apr 12 at The Corner Hotel)
- Ulver (Jun 15 at The Odeon Theatre, as part of Dark Mofo)
- Einstürzende Neubauten (Jun 16and 17 at the Odeon Theatre, as part of Dark Mofo)
- Grouper / Allesandro Cortini / Klara Lewis / Andrew English (Jun 17 at the Odeon Theatre, as part of Dark Mofo)
- Miles Brown (Jun 18 Scotts Memorial Uniting Church, Hobart, as part of Dark Mofo)
- Xiu Xiu and Allesandro Cortini (Jun 22 at the Substation)
- Steve Gunn (Jul 07 at the National Gallery of Victoria)
- Jack Ladder and the Dreamlanders (Aug 04 at Howler)
- Snog / Severed Heads (Nov 5 at The Corner Hotel)
- Plum Green (Nov 12, The Stray Swans book launch, then Dec 17 at the Bendigo Hotel)
- Lorde (Nov 26, Sidney Myer Music Bowl)
Ha! According to my Goodreads list, I read 3 books last year. Just 3. (4 if you include Lyra’s Oxford). Usually I read 20. Something else to work on in 2018.
- Wolf in White Van, John Darnielle
- The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
- Still Life with Tornado, A. S. King
- Lyra’s Oxford, Philip Pullman
- Hobart for Dark Mofo
- Queenscliff, to celebrate my redundancy
- Sydney in September for the ALIA Library Technician’s Symposium
- Sheffield (UK), Leiden and Texel (Netherlands) for work
- (We also spent Christmas and Boxing Day at my sister’s new house in Healesville, which felt like a holiday)