Time for my annual oath, boast & toast.
This year has felt like a fairly quiet one, until I sat down to think about it.
As with years past, it's been full-on, but it's also brought a huge sense of contentment.
Some of the main highlights have included:
- Trekking mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, with two beautiful ladies, Jo & Maia, and a jazz band.
- Continuing the animal theme by hand rearing four abandoned kittens (two of whom, Sophie & Howl, became family - cute pics).
- Had a couple of earthquakes and saw a solar eclipse.
- Bought a piano and starting to learn how to fix it up. Also built up the courage to sing songs around a campfire. I always sing to myself at home, but it takes quite a bit of courage to do it out loud in front of strangers.
- On the down side, I suffered a really bad accident and fell on a bonfire, severely injuring my left hand. However, seven months on from that things are pretty much back to normal, if one set of fingerprints fewer - and I can play the piano I bought. Also learnt about the incredible healing power of pawpaw.
- Despite all that, had a lovely time hosting my friend Paul, singing to the royal cows and floating out upon Lake Kivu.
- I have made some fab friends this year, namely Maia and Lulu, plus reconnected with Tracey from Kenya, who came for New Year with friends, who have all just left for the gorillas. One of my best friend memories is of staying out all night with Maia and Cindy, at Cindy's nightclub, Envy. Getting back to Maia's just as the sun was rising, and falling asleep on a mattress in her garden. Such a good night.
- Fed my interest in African artifacts by learning a lot about Congolese masks.
Also got the good news that my visa has been renewed, so I get to call Rwanda home for another two years.
I felt a bit bad after last year's OB&T. I wimped out. I said I wanted to 'focus more on writing,' when what I actually wanted to say was: 'write three novels,' but I was unsure whether I could do it, and felt more likely to fail if I put public pressure on myself. As it was, I managed this. I wrote a bottom-drawer urban fantasy, just to see what it felt like. I wanted it to be a trilogy, but it's not that good. Then there was a Hookland novel (possibly the first?), called Creeper's Cottage, and a retelling of Red Riding Hood, Wolfish. I've got the latter two printed out, ready to edit once I find time. Between them that's roughly a total of 240,000 words.
In truth, I did keep my oath. I threw everything behind writing and it's really changed things.
- I started teaching fiction at my friend's café cum night school
- I became a proofreader for the new national curriculum textbooks
- Sold an article to The Author
- A friend I edited made it into print
- I've been hired to write business profiles and web content for two big local companies and one start-up
I still do a bit of consultancy on the side, but I've stopped pursuing it. I've cut right back to make more time for literary-related work, and ironically the educational proofing job has paid better than any contract I've had in a long time. It was actually one of my writing students who put me onto that job.
So there's no reason I shouldn't continue developing this. It makes as good financial sense as NGO consultancy, and it adds far more to my sense of contentment. Although, it does still carry the issue of needing to make time to do my own writing, in between writing for other people.
So, what's lined up for 2017?
I've really enjoyed learning about the inside of pianos. Instead of getting someone to come and tune it, I've decided to turn Lirika into my own project. This year, my oath is to fix my piano until she plays properly, and to learn about piano refurbishment.
Dude, I hung with mountain gorillas!
To another two years in Kigali.