Sunday, 13 September 2020

Ten Years On by Sheena Wilkinson

It’s the tenth anniversary of my first novel being published. Taking Flight was launched in September 2010, one of the first novels from a brand-new publisher, Little Island. And, like its title, it really did take flight, winning me several national and international awards, and setting me off on the adventure of being first a published, and eventually a fulltime writer.

Taking Flight, where it all started


Eight novels later, I am still surviving. And so is my wonderful publisher: Little Island just celebrated its tenth anniversary with its one hundredth book, the stunning Savage Her Reply by Deirdre Sullivan, illustrated by Karen Vaughan. Along the way it’s won many, many awards and continues to be a significant force for good in Irish publishing. I’m very proud to have had seven of my eight novels published by them.  

In 2010, only two years after the 2008 economic downturn, we all thought times were tough. Probably because they were. It’s just as well we couldn’t see into the future. But I’m not going to make this a state-of-the-world or even a state-of-publishing post. To be honest I mostly go to blogs for comfort and distraction these days, so that’s what I try to give on here. 

A nice sky in my village, for those who also like comfort and distraction 
Instead I’m just going to compare 2010 and 2020 from a personal point of view. In 2010 I had a fulltime teaching job, and a horse, but no real emotional ties. Writing was the biggest thing in my life. I wrote in cafes, making the most of my limited weekend free time, and had enough money to go on retreats when I needed a more sustained focus. I went on Arvon courses, because I recognised that being published certainly didn’t mean knowing it all. I said yes to the events I was offered, even though taking unpaid leave from work meant I sometimes worked at a loss. I was exhausted most of the time, but my debut book got a lot of attention.  


In 2020 I have been freelance for seven and a half years. I have no horse, but I do have a human partner. I love writing but it’s not the biggest thing in my life. I write at home in the study and take weekends off. I haven’t been on a retreat for a couple of years, because it’s harder now to justify the expense, and also I’m less inclined towards going away. I teach Arvon courses when I’m invited, and still enjoy learning from other writers. I say yes to online events even though they are not my preferred way of working, because I need to eat. I am older, but no longer exhausted. My most recent book – Hope against Hope – has, beyond excellent reviews, received little attention. This bothers me less than it would have done because I know so many others are in the same boat. 

I have no idea what the next ten years will bring, and I don’t want to know. I hope – against hope – still to be happy, and writing books, and blogging for ABBA. 

I hope the next ten years brings more books. 




Sue Purkiss said...

I hope all of those things for you too, Sheena! A lovely post, and congratulations on your ten years.

Penny Dolan said...

Congratulations, Sheena, and wishing you all that you hope for!

Ness Harbour said...

Congratulations, what a wonderful post and how far you seem to have come. Wishing you everything you hope for.

Unknown said...

Dear Sheena, I hope that the next ten years will be as full of achievement and accolades as the last ten have been! Well done, you!

Unknown said...

That was me, Joanna P, posting as Unknown at 21.01... and too lazy to do it properly! x

Sheena Wilkinson said...

Thanks so much for all those lovely encouraging comments!