My year in review – 2022

31 Dec

Objectively, this has been a bit of a bad year for me healthwise, relationshipwise and careerwise. Subjectively, though, it’s doesn’t seem like a bad year, mostly because I finally managed the mega interrailing trip (see the Travel section) and I spent the whole year working on a project that really interested me.

Travel

Let’s start on a high: I went everywhere! Pre-pandemic, I had firm plans to go to Leiden in the Netherlands and vaguer plans to go to Ferrara in Italy and Samothrace in Greece, as these places all feature in my Sarcophagus Scroll series. During the horrible, dark, Omicrony winter of 2021-22, I kept myself sane by planning a big interrailing trip where I would go to all these places in a one-er. And then, in a sweet spot between waves of virus, it actually came about! I won’t go into much detail about it here because you can read about every single day of it in the Karen’s Big European Adventure category of this blog (or you can go straight to the first day here). But I will say it absolutely lived up to my expectations. It was mind-blowingly wonderful, and re-reading my posts about the trip cheer me up nearly as much as planning it did. My favourite day was when I took the Bernina Express, but even on the worst day, I ended up wandering the canals of Venice by lamplight, so I can’t really complain!

Apart from that, I went to an Esperanto Congress in Dunfermline (and ended up leading an impromptu guided tour round St Andrews), I went to Aloa for my cousin’s wedding, and I went over to Northern Ireland, as I do fairly regularly, to visit my good friends the Rutherdales and their ever-expanding family.

Books

I’m not too bad at remembering to record my reading on Goodreads, so this will be a pretty fair reflection. There’s a re-read of the Hunger Games series that I can’t record because I can’t remember when I first read them, but I don’t think there are many other omissions.

There are some strange inclusions on the list this year because, along with my friend Christina (one of the aforementioned Rutherdales), I was following the reading challenge set by author Debbie Macomber. There are a couple of fluffy romances, which I never read, and the very long Daniel Deronda, which was great, but not a good start as my January book (a book beginning with ‘D’) as it took me well into February!

It was a disappointing year in reading. Obviously, the reading challenge meant that I was reading things I wouldn’t usually, but even books I’d looked forward to let me down. Several of them started off very well (Klara and the Sun, Kings of a Dead World, Something Sacred, Ripley Under Ground) but were let down by the ending. The best run of books was the ones I stored up for my holiday, (Nightmare Alley, Ripley Under Ground, Piranesi, Song of Achilles). The best book overall was Ink Black Heart (although it was overlong and could have done with a subplot being trimmed right out), and the most fascinating one by a country mile was A Planet of Viruses. Did you know 8% of our DNA is made up of viruses? 😬 Or that the flu virus makes infected cells explode? Terrifying, but fascinating.

I re-read Persuasion, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, and One Day. They were all still wonderful (“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.” – that’s the kind of romance I can deal with!) and One Day was still so gripping, the second time round, that I failed to stand up at one point when the sheriff entered the courtroom because I didn’t even notice!

Writing

A mixed bag. If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know that there wasn’t much published by me this year. I had set myself a challenge of sending 20 queries, which sounded reasonable but I was so busy with interpreting work and travel and then being ill that I struggled to manage it. I submitted two novels, two short stories or short story collections, one non-fiction book and two articles, some of them multiple times. I recorded the results and it doesn’t make pleasant reading. Excluding the last two, which are too recent to have got any response, the results are:

Rejected (or not placed, if in a competition): 9

No answer: 6

Top 10% but not published: 1

Asked to pitch again when more topical: 1

Published: 1

And that last one barely counts because it was Esperanto in Scotland magazine, which is always desperate for submissions, and doesn’t pay. I mean, it’s still nice to be published, even in Esperanto, but overall that’s pathetic hit rate. I did have a couple of radio appearances related to my writing, though, which was fun.

However, for most of the year I’ve been working on a passion project that I have now self-published as a hardback on Amazon, and which will come out as a paperback (available to order from all bookshops, not just Amazon) and ebook in March. It is called Rambles Round Glasgow and it’s a charming Victorian travelogue of walks in a Glasgow that has now mostly disappeared, by a man called Hugh MacDonald. I got the Google books version, converted it to Word, cleaned up the formatting, and added over a thousand footnotes, an introduction and an index. It took me all year, but I think it’s worth it to have MacDonald’s lovely book available again. (It had been out of print since the 1950s.) Do feel free to order it for anyone who like Glasgow history! I’ll be plugging it further in the new year.

Crafts

I added a few squares to my patchwork blanket – a Saggitarius A black hole, a Roman shield for the 1900th anniversary of Hadrian’s Wall, a 3D loveheart and a crochet version of Nordic knitting, as well as just a new stitch I wanted to try.

Apart from that I was mostly working on the same kaleidoscope blanket I had been working on the year before and will be working on next year. But instead of making all 233 pieces before joining it, I decided to start making it up as soon as I had all the pieces I needed for a section, so that I do now have a usable blanket, albeit not a full one. So I’ll share the picture now because hopefully it will be long finished by next December.

I finished up with calligraphy last year, although the skills still come in handy, but it was this year by the time my ‘reward’ for learning calligraphy arrived – a very expensive calligraphy pen that you don’t have to dip, as it has an ink reservoir. Unfortunately the ink constantly clogs so you have to unscrew it and fix it almost as often as you would have had to dip a normal one, but at least there are fewer blots. Anyway, you can appreciate my final pointed pen calligraphy piece, and a brush pen card I made this Christmas as a private joke for a friend of my sister’s. Do you think there’s a market for it? 😂

Other stuff

It’s been a year with three Prime Ministers, two monarchs and a really quite fascinating level of political chaos, which has been interesting for someone who follows current affairs. Stagflation and strikes have made a big comeback, but fortunately 70s fashions haven’t joined them.

There were a couple of big birthdays in my immediate family (not mine, obviously, as I don’t have birthdays) and one of my nieces is now a teenager. In other middle-aged news, I am on the board of a charity, because the anti-trafficking group Restore Glasgow is now a proper Scottish charity and has its own website.

I mentioned my health had been rubbish. I had a chest infection in the spring, that not-flu-not-covid nasty bug that everyone had in November, and then a mysterious infection that landed me in hospital in December and which is the reason I’m writing a blog post on Hogmanay instead of out dancing. On the bright side, writing a blog post from home is far better than being in hospital.

Speaking of which, it’s a different home from last year as I was offered, and accepted, a housing association flat. It’s in a better location and about half the rent I was paying at the last place, which is pretty great. And it means I can put my lovely Lynn Golden seascape on the wall – something I was not prepared to do when I was only allowed to use Command strips. There’s a bit of watery theme here, actually, as the flat is all decorated in blue, grey and aqua, and there are five water-themed paintings or prints up, plus a blind with the design ‘Como Lago’ (Lake Como). It’s funny how you don’t realise how specific your tastes are until they are all condensed into a small flat!

You can see Artemis in it if you look closely!

Resolutions / Goals

Normally I set some kind of goal for myself, rather than a resolution, but given the year I’ve had, I think I’ll be happy just to get to the end of 2023 in one piece. So I suppose my resolution is to be a bit less obsessed with productivity and just be gentler with myself. I hope that you have a gentle, prosperous and enjoyable 2023 as well.

Happy New Year!

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One Response to “My year in review – 2022”

  1. Ghazali Abdulmuizz January 2, 2023 at 9:05 am #

    You’ve had a really really nice year, the lows are there obviously, but it’s good to see you shine on the brighter side.
    While my 2022 was filled with many lows, I’ve learnt a few things from this blogpost that will make 2023 better for me.
    Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

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