Years ago, when we were a lot more ambitious or (more likely) availed with more time between our exuberant children, we sent out Christmas cards and letters to our friends and family. We haven’t been able to do that the last couple of years, but we do have our blogs, and we know our friends and family are paying attention to them. So perhaps this will serve?
Overall, I think it’s been a good year. Our children continue to grow and prosper. This past September, Vivian entered grade one of the French immersion program at J.F. Carmichael, and Nora entered preschool at the Early Childhood Education Centre. Both are progressing rapidly. I’m now holding conversations with Nora, and Vivian not only knows more French than either Erin or I, she’s entered the world of reading to herself.
Watching your child read is truly a magical experience, and Vivian is progressing really fast, it’s amazing to see. She can sound words out, or guess at them based on their context. She’s also learning to write and has even started writing stories for her little sister. Nora herself can spell her own name and write it out. She also likes to write out her sister’s name.
Financially, we’re holding our own. Erin and I continue to live the dream of making a living off of our writing, and we’ve been fortunate to find work in the field which supports our fiction work. Back in July, Erin found herself enthusiastically received by the Perimeter Institute as a writer, helping to translate physics into English for the general public. She works half-time doing work that she loves, which provides us with a steady income while she spends the other half of her time at her bordello red office working on a new draft of Sorrow’s Knot, and pursuing Swan Riders, her sequel to Children of Peace.
Of course, the highlight of Erin’s year has been her being nominated for and winning the TD Canadian Children’s Book Award in October for Plain Kate. The prize was greatly appreciated, as was the validation of Erin’s work. The nomination helped to send us to Vancouver to see a great city and she’s done a lot of work publicizing the novel. This has started to wind down, now, though we’ll be moving back up again once we head towards publication day for her second book, Sorrow’s Knot.
By day, I take care of the kids, helped out a lot by contributions of time by resident and visiting grandparents (my parents Eric and Pat, and Erin’s mother Rosemarie and her husband Michael). The fact that Nora goes to school half-days and Vivian goes to school all day has given me mornings of solitude, which is something of a new experience for me. I’ve tried to make use of this time as best I can, and have found work (thanks to a tip from an old school friend) at an up-and-coming apartment brokerage firm.
The bulk of the last half of 2011 was spent helping to produce the ROCK Apartment Report, a document detailing the opportunities in the apartment industry throughout Ontario (the economic picture in this sector is a lot better than you might think!). This has been a godsend, as not only am I writing, but I am working in a field that I thought I’d abandoned due to various circumstances. I spent my time in University learning to become an urban planner, and it was a wrench for me to realize that I simply did not have the experience and time to make a go of it in this field (what with the provincial industry being in dire straits in 1996). Even though I see myself as a writer, now, and not an urban planner, being able to call upon my skills as a planner has awakened a part of me that has been asleep for years.
In terms of my fiction, I continue to search for an agent who will help me break into the American market with Icarus Down. I’ve made progress on this front, and have the hope of news in the near future, but nothing that I can write about right now. The highlight of my year was winning a $12,000 grant from the Ontario Arts Council for Icarus Down. It’s similar to the grant I won two years earlier for The Dream King’s Daughter. I am hopeful that both books will see print sometime soon, though we still have some time to wait, first.
In terms of my non-fiction, I’ve had another three book commissions from Crabtree, including a history of Aston Martin and high-interest low-vocabulary books on the Battle of Gettysburg and Navy SEALs. I’ve also been blessed with a weekly column in the Kitchener Post (the latest column of which can be found here.
All of this has kept us busy, and has kept me away from my blog more often than not. We’ve a lot to be thankful for: the company of friends and family, the happiness of our children, and the fact that we’ve kept our head above water.
We also have a lot to cross our fingers over. Hopefully, I’ll have good news to report about Icarus Down soon. Hopefully, you’ll be hearing more about Sorrow’s Knot. Compared to 2010, 2011 was a quiet year, but a lot of work went into it, and I’m hopeful we’ll see that work pay off in 2012.
It’s hard to wait. Anybody who is a parent to a six-year-old knows that. But it does show that not only do we have things to be thankful for, we have things to look forward to. And that’s one more thing to be thankful for.
I’d like to thank all our friends and family for your love and support and encouragement this past year, and I’d like to wish everyone the best possible days in the year to come.