The new year is an opportunity for a fresh beginning. In the Northern hemisphere it brings the possibility of lighter days ahead. We ask, What are our aims during 2024?  Yet mornings and evenings remain dark –  opportunities may be hidden. Darkness means many things, rest, recovery and waiting.

What do I want to achieve this year? In writing terms I want to post regular blogs, I want to develop and finish Making Good, so that I can send it out again to agents/publishers, I want to research and finish writing the second draft of  Kaleidoscope (a novel), to write more poems and submit them to magazines, and possibly to modify a poetry anthology for suitable competitions.

In 2023 I was specific about the timing of my aims, following guidelines in my Mslexia work diary. After I broke my elbow in February, needing an emergency operation and several months of painful physio so I had to modify my plans. I can submit to an agent, but not necessarily be a specific date. I can start a new chapter of a novel, but not necessarily finish it by a specific date.

I’m also more doubtful about my chances of being published a second time. I was lucky to be selected by Cinnamon Press and Rowan Fortune in particular.  I had a bad review in a historical novel magazine, a friend told me – kindly- of the novels shortcomings and others claimed to be looking forward to reading it, never mentioning it again! I am learning to be a little more resilient. I’m more realistic about the publishing world. It is hard to find an agent or a publisher in the crowded marketplace of women’s literary fiction.

So, I now ask different questions.

Why do I write if the chances of being published again are low? What do I get out of writing?

Friendships are a significant reason. Ultimately friends matter.I’m met many writers who I’m close to and I’m part of writers’ groups which help sustain my writing. They are my first readers.

At the heart of it, I learn and discover. In making up the characters in the-yet-to-be-published Making Good, I found ways to understand men and women who on the surface aren’t like me. In A Time for Peace, I explored facts, questioned history in order to develop a story. In David Olusoga’s Black and British: A Forgotten History I learned there had been race riots in the city of my birth and my curiosity was aroused.  Kaleidoscope began.

By writing fiction and poetry I’m creating and continuing my education. 

The opportunities for this new year, are different. Even more interesting.



I’m a  Substrack subscriber to Wendy Pratt‘s Notes from the Margin (paid)  and non-paid to David Aaronovitch’s Notes from the Underground.  Both I highly recommend. Wendy because she supports my creativity and writing, and David Aaronovitch, a journalist, because he widens my horizons. Both are wordsmiths and enjoyable reads.

Publication: Thursday Nights: Short Fiction published by Tindal Street Fiction Group of which I’m a member. Recommended by Kit de Waal and Amanda Smyth. In it is an extract from Making Good. There are a variety of short stories from accomplished writers from the West Midlands.

Currently reading: Nine Perfect Strangers – Liane Moriarty (finished and reviewed in Good Reads) Fresh Out of the Sky – George Szirtes, (poetry) On the Edge of the Sword – Kristiina Ehin (Estonian poems in translation), Rabbit, Run – John Updike (on kindle) and just started A Memoir of my Former Self: A Life in Writing – Hilary Mantel. (Brilliant Reith 2017 lecture on historians and historical novelists, observations that are helpful for all novelists.)