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© Alan John Ward

  • Alan Ward

All the things I didn't Instagram in 2019

It's the end of a decade and I've been quiet on social media this year. Generally I keep this website about things related to writing, but I've had little to post about over the last few months as other-life has gotten in the way. I say that with zero guilt, because other-life has been making me very happy and I've achieved plenty that I'm pleased with even if none of it was a completed novel manuscript. Most of these other-life things haven't even featured on my Instagram, so here's a rundown of what I've been up to in 2019:


Cooking

At home we tried to eat 10 portions of fruit and veg a day for one month (with reasonable success), which forced us away from ready meals and eating out. We discovered our freezer is for more than just pizza and stocked up on ready-chopped vegetables to save prep time. I've always enjoyed the occasional browse of a recipe book, but something has shifted this year and now I really love it. I follow about 60% of any recipe and make up the rest based on what we have at home or what works better for me.


Working

I started out this year at the tail end of an 18-month long sabbatical from a job I never went back to. The terrifying thing is how fast it slipped by. I can still feel the texture of that desk on my fingers, taste the sweet chilli chicken from the Korean restaurant across the road and hear the particular muted echo of footsteps down its corridors. I spent a lot more of the sabbatical working than I imagined I would, thanks to some great writing residencies and freelance jobs. I never really had those long periods of time without commitments I'd dreamed of, but time has a habit of twisting and turning like that so you don't always get what you bargain for. This year I've returned to work in digital marketing in a role I love. I get to work with a super creative team four days a week, and I have had a hand in producing awesome content that's grown our digital audience by orders of magnitude many wouldn't have thought possible.


Writing It would have been nice to finish my magical realism novel for adults this year, but I just haven't. I sent out my young adult manuscript to all the agents I wanted to contact and had a few encouraging conversations that ultimately didn't lead where I wanted them to. I was writer in residence for Gillingham Library in Dorset, had short story published in Popshot magazine, two poems anthologised in Pale Fire, an extract published in Out of the Basement and I was selected to take part in writing programme The Future is Back.


Volunteering

This year I've been mentor to a young person through their university application process, volunteered at my local library and given over 100 hours of my time to a LGBT+ listening service. I've volunteered more than ever before, and it's been satisfying to become more involved in one-off projects for one of the organisations I support.


Travelling

It's been a year of staycations, with trips with – or to visit – friends and family in Leicestershire, Gloucestershire, Buckinghamshire, Wiltshire, Dorset, Hampshire, Yorkshire, Sussex, Wales and Scotland. I also made it as far afield as Thailand, Germany (twice, I think), The Netherlands and Spain.


Reading

Nearly all the books I read in 2019 came from the library. Reading fiction is also one of the things I’m excited about for the year ahead. I still have a long list of books on my library wishlist and hope to get through a lot of them. Somehow I didn't read as many books this year as I did last year, but that might come down to the mind boggling page count a couple of my choices had (the ability to renew online is a wonderful thing!).


Buying a house

One other huge and time consuming activity this year has been buying a house. It's already taken a lot of time and effort to get to this stage and we're not even moved in yet. I'm so excited for all the renovations we've got planned for 2020 (...it needs them) and the subscription to Ideal Home magazine my parents bought my partner and I for Christmas.

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