Every year I mention my fascination with the last week of the year, and 2012 is no exception. The last week isn’t like the rest. It’s almost like there are actually fifty-one weeks in the year, then there’s the crowded room at the end, a place not unlike my grandmother’s living room was, all crowded full of the bits and pieces and memorabilia of eighty-three years of living.
The last week of the year is a mini version of that living room, a mental version, a room that everyone has in their head, no matter how expansive the previous fifty-one weeks have been, this final week is the tiny space into which we crowd everything that’s happened in the past year. Then we settle in to the one comfy chair in that room that isn’t avalanching with memories and emotions, and we reflect.
It’s that time again, the last day in our overly crowded room of 2012. We have to enjoy it now while we can because we only have until midnight on 31st December, and then we’ll have to leave this room, lock the door behind us, never to return, and walk into the brand new huge empty room of 2013.
I’d like to take you on a very brief tour of my crowded room because I’m taking one last inventory of Room 2012, and what a crowded room it is! Careful there, don’t trip over all the gardening tools, and can you just step over that bag of compost. Yep, this was the year we got the allotment, weeds, rickety blue garden shed, asparagus patch and all. Hey, yoohoo! I’m over here, squished in the corner behind the four novels, one novella and three short stories. Yep, that’s me! I know, I know, I look a bit tired. Well it has been one of the most challenging years ever, so that’s not terribly surprising. There’s somewhere in the neighbourhood of 450,000 words in all those pages! Oh and then there was all the blog posts, and you know me. I’m noted for being pretty wordy.
That’s it, that’s it, careful there, just squeeze past the telly and around the stack of old newspapers. 2012 was the year I made my first ever national television appearance on channel 5 news, thanks to the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey and the wild popularity of the eBook reader. I almost didn’t get there after being sent to the wrong studio, then being stuffed into a cab to get across London in twenty minutes before show time. What an adventure that was! I also got to be on the radio with Phil Rickman. I love radio. It’s still titillates the imagination for me. And then there were newspapers! Wow, I had mug shots and everything! The Daily Express even sent a photographer and a make-up artist so they could capture the smutter in her natural environment.
Careful there, don’t knock over the pile of used train tickets and hotel receipts. It took me ages to get them stacked that neatly. 2012 was packed with readings and launches and adventures in London. And then there were the talks in the libraries in the Midlands! That was definitely one of the highlights of my writing year. The Initiation of Ms Holly was chosen by the wonderful Between the Sheets Project, as one of the top 30 erotica books to be included on the shelves in public libraries in the UK. Between the Sheets was a month-long celebration of erotica including a website and blog and talks by erotica writers in libraries around the UK. I felt like I was a part of history being made. And when Kay Jaybee and I went to speak in the Dudley area libraries near Birmingham, we were bowled over by the excitement and the enthusiasm for erotica and by the wonderful hospitality of the people from the Black Country.
This was the year I became another person. Everyone knows K D Grace writes very naughty erotica. But this was the year when I decided romance should come to the forefront, and Xcite agreed with me. That being the case, Grace Marshall made her debut with romance served hot, and the first course was An Executive Decision, book one of the Executive Decisions Trilogy, which was released in September and very well received, so well in fact that Xcite asked me to hurry on with the rest of the trilogy. That’s what I’ve been up to since the middle of October. The second book, Identity Crisis, has just been finished and is due to make its appearance early in 2013, and book three, The Exhibition, won’t be far behind.
This was the year we got our allotment. Yes I know, I mentioned that, but since you keep tripping over garden tools and you noticed the freezer full of our over-abundant runner bean harvest, I thought I’d bring it up again. The plot we were allotted in April was about four, maybe five times our entire back garden and it was well-grown with weeds. We still managed a lovely crop of sweet corn, cabbage, French and runner beans and courgettes. And there was asparagus!
I can’t recall a year that I’ve ever worked so hard, and even with all of the excitement and the adventure I’ve never had a year that I’ve suffered so much from self-doubt, some of that, I’m sure, came from the stress of writing four novels as two different authors in one year, plus a 40 thousand word novella. This was a year that tested me and stretched me in ways I could have never imagined at the beginning, when I first walked into this room of 2012, back when it was the empty room. Now, as I reflect, I’m amazed that one year could contain so very, very much, and there’s so much more I could share with you, but really, I’m looking forward to the tour of YOUR crowded 2012!
For me, sales are good and the response to my work has been overwhelmingly positive, and I’m already excited about the projects that are ahead of me. As I look back at this very full room of 2012, I feel like the luckiest woman on the planet.
I spend my days doing what I love most, writing stories. I spend my evenings and nights with a man who loves me and is very supportive of my work. I’m surrounded by wonderful colleagues and friends, who encourage me and empathise with me and share the excitement, and I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. I already know some of the fun I can expect in 2013, and it will include at least two more novels; the third of The Executive Decisions novels and, at long last, a sequel to The Initiation of Ms Holly. There are also some schemes and plans I’m not quite ready to share yet, but I will definitely be crowing about them when the time comes. Oh yes, I’m going to have great fun filling the empty room of 2013. The key is already twitching in my hand!
Ultimately though, it doesn’t matter if we’re sitting reflecting on all that fills our individual 2012 room, or if we’re frantically trying to fill it still fuller; at midnight tonight, we’ll all take a deep breath, open the door and walk out into the empty room waiting for us in 2013. All we’ll take with us is our memories of the room we left and our hopes for how we’ll fill this bright new room that stretches promisingly before us. Some of us make New Years resolutions, some of us just plow in without a plan of action, but one thing is for certain, this time next year, if we live that long, we’ll be sitting in the full room again reflecting on how the experiences of 2013 have shaped us, anticipating how we’ll take the experiences into the next empty room.
My wish for you is that your reflections in your full room be good ones, satisfying ones. And at the stroke of midnight, that you will enter that bright new empty room with hope and joy and anticipation of how wonderfully you’ll fill it up.