Hoi An Vietnam

Hoi An

Another year (almost) over, can you believe it? Nope, me either. Which means, among other things, it’s time for my annual ‘year that was’ recap – full of the good, bad and in-between.

Let’s get started and I’ll go into more detail. As ever, I’ll break this down into categories.


This is what I wrote about what I wanted to achieve in 2019:

“Which brings me nicely to my plans for 2019. The first is to blog more – I do feel that my regularity has suffered somewhat this year and people have commented they’ve noticed as well. The second is to have work published elsewhere (apart from here). Journals? Books? We’ll just have to see. Above all, I will keep on producing. Keep on trying.”

(Excerpted from here)

First, the blog goal of being more prolific in terms of posting. I began and ended the year pretty well! The middle? Well, let’s describe it as being on a low simmer. Other things pushed ahead in priority, which I’ll come to in a minute. I’m okay with this, and I don’t think I could’ve said the same two or four years ago. I’ll keep aiming high and feeling happy when I get there.

The second goal was pretty successful too. When the blog dipped, my offline work picked up – by that I mean sitting my butt down and getting new words down. Almost exclusively poetry and fiction (short and micro). I got back on the creative hustle train and remembered how exhilarating and frustrating it can be. The pitches, the submissions, the WAITING. Finally, sometimes you get good news, but mostly bad. I like being in this place, feeling like there’s actual skin in the game, but it can get wearying after a while.

What I really wanted was to get a piece of speculative fiction published – and that just happened in Issue 255 of AntipodeanSF with my story ‘Things That Might Help‘. I have a microfiction story ‘The Pecan Tree‘ in Meniscus Literary Journal (Vol 7, Issue 2 2019) and a poem ‘Christmas Day’ in the 2019 edition of FourW (no online link). Other things are still ‘in motion’. I hope to report on those in the new year!

Now we come to the plan for 2020. Hmmm… I feel like saying ‘more of the same’ is too general to be useful or enlightening but, honestly, as I write this, it feels like a solid option. January will be devoted to book revising, so please note that my posting schedule will be on complete pause until the very end of the month. 

They say to be brave and throw things out there, so I will make one ‘big sky’ goal – a new book announcement or another competition win would be ace.

Personal and Travel

Putting it bluntly, 2019 has been a year of anxiety hell. This has resulted in a fair bit of social retreat, professional and creative handwringing (so read the above part again with that in mind), and a fug of ennui that’s only just lifting. This upswing is partially to do with the triathlon training – ie. exercise – and how it as yet (touch wood) hasn’t caused a fibro flare. On that note, I’ve noticed a positive difference since going almost 100% vegetarian. Coincidence? Maybe. But here’s hoping it continues.

Our big travel destination for the year was Vietnam. It feels like a lifetime ago. I’ve reposted below a couple of the videos I made and when I was watching them again I became thankful again for the work I put into them (and this blog) to document the trip. The trip itself was epic (and had long-lasting effects!) and might be the last for a while as we’re getting to the pointy end of high school there’s a motley of extracurricular activities, parties, birthdays, exhibitions, etc etc. And that’s just the kids! Life’s complicated and busy! We might do some longers car trips, explore our country some more. I’d like that.

The list

Favourite book?

Upon reflection, if I had to pick one, it would be Beautiful Revolutionary by Laura Elizabeth Woollett. I also reread The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco and that will always be up top in my all-time rankings.

Favourite short story?

Very hard to choose, but ‘Sinkers‘ by Josephine Rowe has stuck with me. When we flew from Sydney to Melbourne recently, I looked out the plane window as we passed over southern NSW. As I spotted (I think) Eucumbene Dam and other bodies of water, I thought of Cristian in his rowboat.

Favourite poem?

A few in Laurie Halse Anderson’s Shout (I feel terrible I didn’t write their titles down, but they were from the section where she recounts her senior year in Denmark), and ‘Workwear’ by Alison Whittaker from Blakwork.

Favourite movie?

All of the 7.5 and above marked movies from this post. From the second half of this year, I’d add Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, A Quiet Place and Us.

Favourite TV show?

Fleabag was clever, sexy and original. The second season of Mindhunter was better than the first. Russian Doll was a delight.

Favourite place we visited?

Locally, we finally (!) went out to visit the redwood forest at Warburton and it was lovely. Plus we recently went home for a brief visit, which is always wonderful, but overall I think I’ll pick Hoi An as my favourite.

The favourite scary thing I did?

I’ve pressed send on a few important submissions.

Favourite gift to myself?

I think it could be entering myself in the half marathon and then for the upcoming Triathlon Pink 2020.

Favourite experience?

Although I fell victim to seasickness on Halong Bay – due to a combination of bad sea legs, a bit of buffeting wind and two cocktails I should’ve said no to – it was incredible. Especially when we got to paddle through a floating village.

Favourite failure?

Applying for funding for an arts project, putting a lot of thought into the documentation, budget, themes etc, and forgetting to include a vital component the judges specifically asked for. I didn’t realise I left it out and only discovered this fact when I asked for application feedback after the artists were announced. All the more embarrassing. Still – it was an interesting process, and a new one to me. It was practice for articulating a vision for a project in a manner that judges (hopefully) find compelling and impressive. Just next time I’ll triple check I’ve remembered to include everything!

Also buying Final Draft 11 and writing about two lines of dialogue.

Favourite song?

‘Nothing Breaks Like a Heart’ by Miley Cyrus (released end of 2018, but first heard it in 2019), ‘Bad Guy’ and ‘Bury a Friend’ by Billie Eilish.

Favourite Instagram photo

I didn’t embed the photo here as it appears on IG because the code is temperamental, so I uploaded it instead. But here’s the link if you want to see it there.

golden hour photo


I know it isn’t art, or even that ‘good’, and I scaled it down so some of the finer details/colours have been lost. But this is the view of the golden hour before sunset from Riley’s room and it just makes me happy. On my bad days, I try to focus on little beauties, the soft pleasures of senses. This had a heave of blankets and the presence of light and I loved it.


Farewell, 2019! I wish you all have a happy and healthy holiday season. See you in 2020.

karen andrews

Karen Andrews is the creator of this website, one of the most established and well-respected parenting blogs in the country. She is also an author, award-winning writer, poet, editor and publisher at Miscellaneous Press. Her latest book is Trust the Process: 101 Tips on Writing and Creativity