Sunday, 1 January 2012


On the basis that we must keep growing, not repeating the same old same old - for that way there be dragons - here is a list of things I did in 2011 that I’d never done before.

1. February. Became a grandmother. My granddaughter Millie was born on 19th February. Refusing to be called either Grannie, Grandma, Nan or Nanna, I am ‘Thingy’, pending Millie choosing what noise is appropriate.

2.March. Spent two weeks in Aldeburgh, on a reading retreat.

3. April. Spent a few days with a military historian, following in the footsteps of The Swansea Pals.

4. May. Read at The Brighton Festival Fringe

5. May. I lost my father, so for the first time I have no living parent, and it is an odd feeling. But it is life. Much missed.

6. May/June Ran a workshop for the first time at Anam Cara, my own brilliant writing retreat. (No, not mine, but where I go, myself...) The place is good, and calm, and creative. And healing.

7. August. Went on a play writing course

8. September. Ran a weekend writing retreat for women writers at the gorgeous Tilton House. First time I’d spent that amount of time with women, since my school days. Loved it. A fab group of 11 writers, we had a ball, thanks to the organisation of New Writing South.

9. October. Visited Sicily. Stayed in Palermo for a long weekend with great friends, and loved it. The rush of the mad traffic, the seedy city streets where a bombed out church from 1944 will still be teetering over a newer building, the trip to the much quieter beautiful Monreale with its stunning mosaics.

10. October. Short Story Commission - I’d not done one before. This came from the British Council - who commissioned a story exploring the achievements of women, for a EUNIC project run from Athens. Stories from many EU countries will be translated into Greek and published alongside the originals in an anthology to be launched in Athens on International Women’s Day. That’ll be a first - never been to the Greek mainland, and am looking forward greatly.

11. November. Had my first novel published, by Bloomsbury. A gorgeous hardback with foil-blocked jacket created by Holly MacDonald, reminiscent of the woodcuts of Eric Ravilious.

12. November. Taught flash fiction workshops, but, for the first time, shared with with Tania Hershman - something we'd been promising we'd do for ages. Had a great time at the Bridport Open Book Festival.

13. December. First ever reviews of my writing in the broadsheets, most notably in The Financial Times (where it was A N Wilson’s novel of the year) , The Guardian (where it was also a Guardian Reader’s best novel of the year), The Independent , There was also an interview by The Telegraph, another first!

14. On national radio for the first time - BBC Radio 3’s The Verb. A short story was commissioned, recorded by a gorgeous Welsh voice - and there was studio discussion.

It was a fine year, despite the sadnesses. All is OK. So - Happy New Year! Here is to an excellent 2012. May the year to come bring you good health, good friends, good times. Here's a daffodil outside my front door. 1st January. I wonder if it will bloom, or if the frost will get him?


  1. 14 new things? Wow!! I agree we must keep putting ourselves out there in the uncomfortable space of the unknown.

    I have a feeling 2012 may be the year for you, Ms Gebbie. Maybe a shortlisting for the Orange Prize perhaps...and then a win??? (Celebrate!!) I smell citrus in the air.

  2. Nice round-up of a very good year. Here's to the next one!

    p.s. Don't forget that you had some scrag end at my house. I'll keep your feet on the ground no worries.

    Finished The Coward over hols. Loved it. Well done you.

  3. What a year it's been - the highest highs and the lowest lows. I can't wait to see what new highs you reach in 2012. Love to you and all yours.

  4. Lauri, your faith in me and my book is smashing - please will you accept a job as my PR sidekick! xx

    Oh Wendus, it was a privilege to share sups with you and the family. xx

    Thanks Sue - xx as well!

  5. What a lovely post Vanessa - and a smashing blogsite. A really interesting mix of information and insight. Must add your book to my teetering reading pile (to indulge in once I'm past March deadlines!). Hope you have an excellent and happy 2012 :) ps thought I was following you on twitter but found I wasn't ... now corrected!

  6. Thanks Isabel - I don't know what has been happening on twitter - it seems to have a mind of its own - nice to be in touch anyway! You are on my tbr pile!

  7. Looking forward to reading The Coward. What an almighty year! I expect 2012 will continue with the same success and warmth.
    All good wishes, Catherine

  8. Looking forward for your roundup of 2012. I find it very intersting