Thursday, 31 December 2009

Here we are (almost...)

I made the decision to stay home this New Year's Eve. Being honest New Year's Eve's have not always been the best of times, anf for me New Year's Day is the most important part of moving from one year to the next. I like to wake fairly early and make the most of the first day of the year.

I didn't realise today that its the end of a decade. Gosh. Another one. Ha. Get beyond thirty and the years start passing by incredibly quickly.

So, 1999, I spent the millenium new year in Leeds with my two wonderful friends Carole and Dave and their new born baby.

I was a very fresh faced 26 year old... with incredibly short hair and little glasses. I was skinny as a stalk, probably more silly than I am now, but much the same. I was at the end of an incredible year, starting my social work training, travelling twice to the US, moving to South Manchester, gaining a lot of confidence. I couldn't have had a more wonderful new year 1999.

Ten years has tracked me from 26 to 36 via graduating my social work MA, four different jobs, two boyfriends, a lovely little flat that I lived in for seven years, buying my gorgeous house, acquiring Sissy, two of the most amazing holidays I can ever imagine having, an MA in creative writing, the publication of my chapbook of prose poems... so many things, I could write a list that went on for a very long time.

So, tonight I am listening to some of my music from the last decade, those songs that we all have that make us laugh, that we danced to, cried to... oh yes. I have been looking through my photographs of all the friends I have known over the past ten years, some still around, others moved on, and others who have come back into my life.

Mainly for my benefit I wanted to write about some of the most important things from the past ten years...

I wasn't a writer, but I was someone who wanted to be. I hadn't written much, didn't know what I wanted to write, and had only dabbled here and there in poetry and short fiction. This week at Lumb Bank in 2001 changed everything for me. I met an amazing group of people, some of whom are friends still. I wrote poetry that I never imagined writing. It was a wow, so freeing, I felt I had come home. It was all books books books, and writing and talking about writing, and reading, workshops, readings. It was the week I found my voice. Honestly. I found something I had never found before and it's not left me. For me, this week was always the time when I became a writer. Gosh.

JC was my love for three years. I never talked about him on my blog because, well, privacy for a start. But I want to say something about him here, because he was probably the most significant part of my decade. I spent my most amazing times with him... I learnt a lot from him and from being with him... He supported me, made me laugh, annoyed me too, and opened my eyes to possibilities... Of course it didn't work out, and that's a whole other story. We will never be together again, but I have such a lot to thank him for. Thanks JC!

For one, I never imagined I would travel to the other side of the world. I didn't think I was the kind of person who could fly that far, for a start. But, in 2007, there I was driving a camper van around New Zealand, jumping off waterfalls, kayaking, white water rafter, flying above volcanoes, sitting on beaches, walking near Mt Cook, swimming in lakes... Yes, little me, for a month, feeling ever so free and happy at the other side of the world. I loved my time there so much. And Hong Kong and Tokyo stopovers, my god, brilliant.

Morocco was another kind of place altogether, the craziness of Marrakesh, the heat, dirt, souks, riads, tagines, stray cats, carpet shops, mint tea, the muezzins calls for prayers, spice souks, holding a chameleon in my hand, the cooperative marjana, beack walks in Essouaira, lobster fresh from the fisherman, dirty cafes, camels, moped rides, lazy baths in the afternoon. It was the most peaceful, beautiful, inspiring time in my life so far. I will never forget.

Have a developed as a writer since that first writing course...? Hell yes! A learning-by-fire MA in creative writing at Lancaster University, where I started my apprenticeship. Tough, but brilliant. I learnt shed loads, wrote tens of thousands of words and scrapped most of them, met some interesting people, was taught by some amazing writers, made a couple of life-long friends, read my poetry for the first time, graduated, but the most important part of it was the experience, the graft... since then, a chapbook, magazine and anthology publications, my blog, collaborative writing with other writers and artists, interviews, reviews, readings. A couple of the proudest moments for me: reading alongside Graham Mort (my tutor) and Ian Duhig at Litfest; travelling to Prague with my sister and reading at the Globe Cafe. It's been one hell of a decade for my writing... creatively my life has transformed and developed, and still feels as though it's only just starting...

Two years ago, I bought my house, I moved in around the 5th January 2008. I never thought I could afford it on my own (and sometimes wonder whether I can ha!), but here I am, in my beautiful two bedroomed terraced house, with its little back yard, wooden floors, old fireplace, french doors, teeny tiny kitchen and bathroom, high ceilings, and filled with my books and clutter. Home is wonderful.

And so is this little darling, who came into my life in 2008, crazy little kitty has become a sleek lady cat now, she is such a lovely, gentle, playful, cuddly, mischievous, scaredy cat. Hey, I might be a crazy cat lady, but I don't care...

Many many things to be grateful for...

Roll on another decade... hurray...!


Megan said...

Happy New Year Annie!!
Thank you so much for sharing these memories, and for sharing so much generally, on your lovely blog.
Wishing you all the very best for 2010 - and beyond
megs xxx

Megan said...

ps Completely understand about Lumb Bank - it's been a very special place for me too xx

Anonymous said...

Wow Annie, nearly ten years since Lumb Bank! You've achieved such a lot with your writing in that time. We should arrange a get together some time this year.

L K xxx

annie clarkson said...

Thanks Megs, it is a special place isn't it!

Keith, YES, a get together would be good, can't believe it's been so long...

PeterB said...

Hi Annie - thanks for sharing your decade. That was a truly inspiring week at Lumb Bank - one of the weeks of the decade for me too. Happy New Year.