2010: How writing and writing buddies got me through a shit year

My friend Suzanne Johnson wrote a great post at Write in the Shadows about how her writing career developed throughout 2010. For me personally, this year has hit higher highs and lower lows than any I can remember. For months I said I just wanted to get the year over with, but when I read Suzanne’s post and decided to write one of my own, I realized that writing – and my new writer friends – got me through it.

Here’s where I went on my roller coaster ride.


I start my second manuscript, All Things Easy (well, I actually started it a couple days before the new year). I didn’t plot it out but I had the characters and general concept in my mind. This mistake would come back to bite my bum.


I query my first (and, to date, only) agent through an online contest, pitching her my first manuscript. She requests a partial! I send it.

I also enter my first chapter-run contest, the Between the Sheets contest.


A project I’m managing at work kicks into high gear. At the same time, my mother-in-law starts having tests done to figure out why she hasn’t been well for months. We all fear the worst of the possible diagnoses: tongue cancer. Because of the work project, I can’t take time off, but my manager is very flexible so he lets me work flexible hours from my in-laws’ several days so my husband and I could comfort them as test results come in.

On March 25, I find out my first manuscript isn’t a Golden Heart finalist. That same day, the agent writes back and says she didn’t love my story enough to request a full.

Ouch. Suck-ass day.

However, just before I go to bed, I find out All Things Easy is a finalist in the Between the Sheets contest. Yay!


Mum-in-law is diagnosed with tongue cancer. Lots of tears and terror as we all wait to find out what the treatment will be like.

Work project becomes more manic.

I find out I got first place in the Between the Sheets contest. Woo hoo!


Mum-in-law starts chemo. She’s an in-patient in London, so hubby and I visit often. She’s in great spirits, which is wonderful to see.

Work project gets even worse. I’m working my butt off, feeling like I’m losing my mind, totally stressed, and often on the verge of tears when I’m at home.

I find an awesome critique group. They’re supportive, fantastic writers and critters. My writing improves tremendously because of their feedback.

I enter a flurry of writing contests, probably because I’m so thrilled I won Between the Sheets and I’m desperate for good news to balance out all the stress.


I start wondering how much it’d cost to rent a cave somewhere. All I want to do is curl up and sleep, but the work project won’t let me. It especially won’t let me sleep, because my to-do list keeps me up all night. The only thing that helps me unwind is reading a great book.

One day while at the hospital visiting my mum-in-law, I get a call saying I’m a finalist in another contest. It seems to sum up my year.


Surprisingly, everything at work and with my mum-in-law gets worse. She’s in a lot of pain.

I win a few contests and have some great conversations with my crit partners, so writing is the one area of my life I feel I have a grip on.

I think this is probably about the time I got on Twitter and discovered a whole world of new friends, too.


Work project finishes the same day mum-in-law finishes her radiotherapy. Both are anti-climactic. Mum-in-law’s treatment has made her really ill and unable to eat. She looks and acts like a completely different person. People say great things about the work project, but the final result doesn’t live up to my expectations. I feel like a massive failure because it’s not perfect. Also feel like a failure because in the last weeks of the project I haven’t had the time or energy to comfort my husband or in-laws.

The month is a black hole in my memory, but I think August was when I took part in a series of writing sprints through Savvy Authors. Writing for an hour or so every morning was the only time I had to myself—the only time I was me instead of a failing wife, daughter-in-law, employee, colleague. (No one called me a failure or made me feel like one other than me. Everyone around me was supportive and wonderful, but I wasn’t meeting my own standards—a lifelong problem for me.)


Mum-in-law makes tiny improvements. Work becomes manageable again.

I nearly finish the first draft of All Things Easy. Hubby and I take a week off to go walking in Scotland. While we’re there, I read through All Things Easy and realize there are massive problems with it.


Life is finally starting to normalize. I figure out some of the plot holes in All Things Easy, but there are still things bugging me. Meanwhile, there’s another story brewing in the back of my mind that I’m desperate to start.


Hubby and I go to Japan for two weeks. It feels like the happiest, most relaxed two weeks of my life. I go with high hopes for writing but don’t get much done. Instead, new stories start popping into my head and I realize I need to streamline my life and not take on so many responsibilities. I get really excited about 2011.

I figure out how to fix All Things Easy.

I enter the Golden Heart.


I nearly finish editing/rewriting All Things Easy. Considering how hellacious the whole process has been, the title now makes me laugh.

I figure out how I want to rewrite my first manuscript, First Aid for a Broken Heart, but decide to save it for next year.

I start writing my third manuscript, No Fragile Heart.

My happy, healthy, cancer-free mum-in-law (and dad-in-law) spend Christmas with us. Two days after Christmas, we celebrate mum-in-law’s 62nd birthday.

I count my blessings. They are many.

As I think back, there are dozens of people who helped me through this year, even if you had no idea at the time. I can’t name them all, so I’ll thank you in groups.

Thank you to the people who took the time to read and comment on my blog – you made me feel wonderful.

Thank you to the critique partners who helped me hone my voice and appreciate my own creations.

Thank you to the friends I’ve made on Twitter and the blogosphere, for making me laugh and making me think.

Thank you to the contest judges who gave me fantastic feedback and encouragement.

Thank you to the authors whose novels were the only thing that helped my frantic mind wind down at the end of the day.

I wish you all a wonderful 2011 full of great reads and finding the perfect words.


  1. Awww! We love you too Kat! 2011 will be awesome. You and I will both finish our MSS and really get the ball rolling. I’m making it a pact. And no, I don’t need you to shake on it. It’s implied. 🙂

  2. Gads. I had no idea what an uphill year 2010 was for you. Congratulations to your mum-in-law, and to all of you who suffered through that ordeal with her. And congratulations to you for sticking in there with your writing–and for placing in the contests. You’ve earned a great 2011, so expect the best. And thank YOU for the support and the generous reviews you’ve given me…more bricks in your road to literary heaven (which is right next to genre heaven, but costs more and has a longer shelf-life.) Have a safe and healthy and contract-filled New Year!

    1. Thanks for the wonderful books, Kaki. I absolutely loved them.

      And if genre heaven is the place where the courtesans and alpha males hang out, that’s where I want to be.

  3. What a great summary of your year! Thank goodness your MIL is healthy. WTG on starting your third ms. Good luck with GH and may we all have a blessed new year.

  4. Sounds like you have a really tough, yet exciting year. I’m glad to hear your MIL is doing so much better! That’s the best news! I’m only just meeting you now but I’m looking forward to encouraging you in 2011 and it sounds like it’s going to be a great year!

  5. Kat, you are always so upbeat and positive it’s amazing to realize what an emotional rollercoaster of a year you had. Here’s wishing you nothing but the best for 2011. Like you, I cherish the writing friends I’ve made online, who never fail to cheer me up and remind me–as I’m reminding you–that we’re always hardest on ourselves. No FAILS, got it?

    1. No fails! *bangs fist against head* Got it! And thank you for being such a wonderful friend this year, Suz. I really appreciate you.

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