I remember, at the of 2010, looking back and thinking, roughly, "meh". It had not been that much of an exciting year, following as it did almost exactly the same pattern as 2009 had, but without the added challenge of moving countries and starting a business from scratch.
I thought my assessment of 2011 might be similar, but, on reflection, realised that this year has been different, in subtle but perhaps significant ways.
This was, after all, the year I met Rob Lowe, and consequently wobbled briefly in my devotion to Bradley Whitford, because when a person is that good-looking and that charming in real life, it can tend to confuse you. I quickly recovered, though.
This was, not unrelatedly, the year that I discovered the Hay Literary Festival. Okay, my meeting with a slightly-famous-author did not turn out to be the key to fame and fortune and a lifelong literary friendship, but Hay was fun, and inspiring, and educational, and there were lots of books, and I want to go again, and again, and again.
It was, however, the year in which a literary friendship did begin: my creative-non-fiction friend Sylvia is a lof of fun and hugely inspiring. And there were other new people in my life too: people like Brian and MA - both DC friends that began online and moved closer to the realm of reality this year.
This was, returning to the subject of meeting famous people (famous to me, that is - for which read people having to do with the West Wing), also the year that I met Richard Schiff, who was reasonably nice to me when you consider that I lost all power of speech and reason and the ability to form intelligent questions like "so do you prefer stage or screen?" It was the year that I failed to meet Elisabeth Moss, though (straying briefly from the West Wing for a second) I did, as a result of attempting to meet her, get Keira Knightley's autograph. It was the year that I met Melissa Fitzgerald (who plays CJ's assistant, Carol), though I hesitate to put her in the same category since meeting her felt less like star-spotting and more like making a new friend.
It was, of course, still not the year when I met either Bradley Whitford or Janel Moloney, but I'm guessing you've worked that out, since I might have mentioned it by now if I had. A lot. Loudly. With many exclamation marks.
It was also the year when I finished my first novel (although "finished" is a relative term - I'm not sure that you ever really finish - it seems you just stop). It was the year when I started my second - Primary Season is its current working title - and I will, at some point, write a blogpost that predictably will compare this experience to having a second baby - it's not that you love your first any less, but you have less time to devote to it, and less time to devote to the second because of the first, and a tiny part of you is already thinking of the third. Anyway, I digress.
It was the year that I did my first real campaigning in America (unless you're counting the few phone calls I made trying to convince people to vote for Martha Coakley way back in January 2009). I did phone banking and door to door canvassing, and I would have done voter registration if the good people of Pasadena hadn't been scared off by the prospect of drizzle (don't get me started).
it was the year I self-published my little eBook on language learning, Conquering Babel, which has sold, oh, forty copies or so, and started blogging about language learning to build a platform in my attempt to take over the world as a language-learning guru.
It was the year, for better or worse, that I discovered Authonomy, where my first novel, Inevitable, is currently in 28th place, meaning that sometime in the first half of 2012 it should land on the desk of a Harper Collins editor, who may or may not offer me a contract, which I may or may not accept.
It was the year when I did (and loved) my first Gotham Writers' Workshop course. It was the year when I was accepted to American University to study for an MFA in Creative Writing (whether or not I end up going is anothe rmatter). It was the year that I did NaNoWriMo (or National Novel Writing Month - the challenge of a 50,000 word first draft of a novel in thirty days) for the first time. So I suppose it was a year where writing featured heavily. It has so become a part of my life that I didn't even really notice. It doesn't feel shiny and new anymore, yet I keep going, and for someone who normally moves onto something new after the excitement fades, this is a good sign.
It was the year of my first internal American flight and also my first visit to Portugal, where the coffee, let me tell you, is delicious, and tastes exactly like Spanish cafe con leche, to which my mind often turns as I sip on a Belgian coffee that I wish I could enjoy.
But, wait! This was also the year when Starbucks opened in Brussels, which has considerably reduced my homesickness and irritation at missing trains, and thus my general levels of grumpiness.
It was the year of weddings, too - four, and yes there was a funeral too, and that was incredibly sad. It was the year of the last Brighton Leaders' Conference. It was the year I started swimming again. It was the year in which one of my multiple twitter accounts gained considerable momentum, hit 5,000 followers and kept going. It was the year in which for the first time an article of mine was published in a magazine you can actually buy in WHSmith - Writers' Forum.
It was another year in which I failed to keep a diary, though, so I'm forgetting a lot, no doubt. I'd like to think that next year I will be disciplined enough to fill in a few lines a day in my five-year diary thing that I bought, full of good intentions, at the beginning of 2010. I think I actually might this time, because I am expecting great things of 2012. But that's the subject of another post, another day..