What I did in the summer holidays: write, ponder and plan

Outdoor table with diary, Almost Old workbook and notebook for blog, books, pod

My favourite January: writing and thinking undisturbed in Wellington. Holidays can wait.

My 2020 January in Wellington was perfect for this writer and closet introvert: grey and solitary. I spent it pondering and planning and writing. No new year resolutions in this household: plans and projects evolve with time and attention. I love the writing process. (Reminder to northern hemisphericals: January is high summer in New Zealand.)

Don’t worry, I do take holidays! This year will be special, with two mystery trips planned by my sisters and children respectively to celebrate my 80th birthday, plus 3 family days at WOMAD 2020 in New Plymouth. If that’s not an awesome almost-continuous 3-month holiday I don’t know what is. Yippee!

Today is the last day of January. Here, people are back in the city, work and school have resumed, clubs and gyms are almost back in full swing. So let me summarise what I’ve done since Christmas. The list shows what’s in store on this website.

  1. I signed a contract with The Cuba Press for my new book of poems, How To Be Old.
  2. I committed myself to creating Almost Old: a unique self-help course in aging well.
  3. I wrote the first draft of a workbook for Almost Old, which will be available soon…
  4. I revamped the front page of this website to feature Almost Old, and adding the first batch of information about it
  5. I’ve started a Meetup group, the Almost Old in Wellington group; first meetup is on 10 March 2020 at the Quaker’s meeting house in Moncrieff Street, Mt Victoria. Please tell your friends.
  6. I recorded 3 more episodes of the podcast, How To Be Old —Hey I really love this thing and you might too. It’s not like any other podcast I’ve ever heard. Sometimes that’s a good thing.
  7. Vision for Ageing in Aotearoa accepted me as a speaker: I’m honoured to be part of this conference jointly run by the  NZ Association of Gerontology and Age Concern New Zealand.
  8. As a member of Crows Feet Dance Collective I started learning a new dance to perform at the the Seasoned Symposium in Christchurch — this is a bit scary but hey.
  9. Yesterday I committed myself to tutoring a short course on blogging for SeniorNet Wellington. That’s not finalised yet but I’m happy about the prospect.
  10. I’ve hosted guests for AirBnB three times —oops, must rush with the housework, others are due this afternoon…
  11. And yes, I did have some good times with friends and family  — it’s no life at all without my people.

Whew! Look at that! Am I even human? No wonder I’m feeling both proud and tired. I’m shocked at how much I’ve achieved. But January is a now-or-never time for tough writing, when my days are my own and even email fades to a distant blip. (I doubt you noticed that my blog was kind of quiet. But now you know why.) Now you see why I love a solitary summer at home.

OK 2020, you can now begin. From now on I can almost cruise where my work is concerned: it’s far from finished but I’m starting on the right foot, it’s under control. I know where I’m going in 2020, and nobody is more surprised than me. New year resolutions? Redundant.

17 thoughts on “What I did in the summer holidays: write, ponder and plan

  1. I’m exhausted just reading this! Well done.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I know, so am I! But I am glad I seized the moment.

  2. Dan Antion says:

    That’s quite a list of impressive accomplishments – way to go!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      The rest of the year will be gentler 🙂

  3. LA says:

    Good for you!!

  4. JT Twissel says:

    You put us all to shame! I started pulling together three of my novella length stories for a publication. Thus far I’ve committed to only visiting my mother next month. Last year was one long slug of house projects, etc., so I’m taking a break.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      That is heaps, quite enough. Each year and each month is different. But every day you might catch me reading or Netflixing for a couple of hours.

  5. I’m enjoying my relatively quiet January space too and have found some much-treasured writing time. 80! You are who I want to be when I’m nearly old too!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Writing time is a special kind of time 🙂

  6. Cathy Cade says:

    January is a long month here in the UK – is it the longest month in NZ too?
    It certainly sounds like it, looking at your list of achievements. And I haven’t even finished editing my Pond People story yet for my blog! (Although when I do it will help keep my posts active for weeks while I put together a collection of silly verses – I can’t, in all honesty, call mine poetry.)
    Good luck with your forthcoming publication.
    How will you find time to write more, with all those speaking and tutoring engagements?

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Hi Cathy. Technically January is 31 days like many other months 😉 but holiday months can seem long in a good way. Or a problem for working parents. I’m so glad you are going to put out a book of poems. Please don’t compare yourself with other poets or I will feel obliged to too, with sad consequences.

    2. Rachel McAlpine says:

      PS to your last question, I won’t write any or many new poems and that won’t bother me. Or I could write like I draw cartoons: first shot is the last shot. That’s fun.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    What a great way to turn 80 at a three day world music festival. Well done you.

  8. cedar51 says:

    I too set “no word” for 2020, rather I set a few challenges, and in no chronological order.

    Some which would become long term but have nothing fancy about them – through to – set something and now I have realised that it wasn’t going to work.

    That particular first off the bench would work if my personal circumstances were different, but that is possibly not going to happen; instead I reset that challenge to fit with what I can achieve (has nothing to with art-making).

    The art making on the other hand is changing a bit as well, an idea I had last year – turned a little to custard and I have a lot of notebooks that people could write in, but it seems that’s not the style of “todays’ people” – so I’m not tossing them, but rather they are evolving in a different kind of challenge…and although that’s still WIP, enjoying the process.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I find it’s always good to make those challenges feasible:) I’m glad you adapt so wisely.

  9. Judith says:

    spent January “venting” to friends over recent upsets. Getting bettre now it is February

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Quite right too! Sometimes it’s a choice between venting and exploding.

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