Saturday 1 January 2022

Oath, Boast, Toast 2021


Well, it's that time of year again. Seems to come around quicker each time. 

That was a long slog, right?

For those new to the blog, each New Year I do a very Pagan oath, boast and toast. That's where I make a promise (or a resolution), boast about something I'm proud of, and toast the health of something or someone. 

This time last year I made the oath that I would enter one writing competition every month. Didn't do great at keeping that one. I made it up to September. I entered 11 competitions total, one poetry, one essay, the rest short stories. I spent a total of £40.25 on entry and made back £50 in prize money, so not at all profitable, but it kept me on my toes. I won that on the Bet Tuppi Near Eastern Historical Fiction Prize and publication through a Bridge House Publishing competition. I was also longlisted for another, but didn't make the shortlist. I enter for the entertainment value, and any unpublished stories can go into a collection at a later date. 

It's been a distraction from my Akkad novel, which I did complete, but which I'm struggling to edit. It's the longest novel I've ever written at over 160,000 words at the moment. I hope, by this time next year, it will be fully polished and perhaps even out there.

Main highlights and horrors of the past twelve months:

  • In the past couple of weeks, I lost my friend Emmy. Who was a huge part of my life in Rwanda and I will feel his absence for years to come. He was such a genuinely lovely guy who went out of his way to help his friends and make other people's lives easier. Really going to miss him.

  • I completed two semesters as head of Writing and Communication at the University of Global Health Equity, teaching academic English and creative writing. I designed and delivered both curriculums, adapting the courses for online learning during COVID. It was a privilege to be involved and very interesting. 

  • I turned 40 in February. Had a lovely celebration and spa day with my close friends. My mum had been working with them covertly to arrange everything. I feel pretty good about being 40. Doesn't feel noticeably different to 39.

  • Had a lovely start to last year at Lake Muhazi with my friend Maia. Went for a boat ride and a walk, lit a bonfire and ate cake. 

  • Nyarigongo volcano erupted, causing several gays of strong tremors. 

  • I learned to make soap and found some very creepy caterpillar webs in my mango tree.

  • Took the plunge on YouTube. Being in front of a camera isn't that comfortable for a writer, but I think I've got the bug. Bought an Insta360 One x2 and plan on making some travel videos around Rwanda when I return. Got a laptop that can keep up with DaVinci and even 4k, though maybe not an internet connection that can do the same. 

  • And, finally, made it back to the UK to spend Christmas and New Year with family. Went to the Lake District with dad and ate myself into a coma with mum. Got everyone doing ancestry DNA testing and discovered... well, I'll reveal that in a YouTube video soon. 

So, without further ado:


This year, I am going to pursue creative projects that I enjoy. I am going to turn down things that don't make my soul sing. 

(Easier said than done sometimes, all creatives know what I mean).



I won the inaugural Bet Tuppi Near Eastern Historical Fiction Prize.



To Emmy. My dear friend. Thank you for everything. May your next life be full of adventure and joy. 


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