Looking Back, Looking Forwards

Kumquat Absurdium turned five years old yesterday. How about that?

Happy New Year. Back in September, what was intended to be a week or two’s hiatus soon rolled into more than three months of silence. KA has not been abandoned. Quite the contrary. In truth, I’ve missed writing here and part of last year was spent thinking about what to do and where to go next.

Back at the beginning of the year, I was fraught in every way. Eventually, I realised that keeping up this blog was causing unnecessary and unneeded stress and anxiety so I told myself I’d step away for a week or two (or as long as I needed) until my head was back in the game.

I’ve been fine for a while now. I feel like I am myself again. My health improved greatly over 2018, I’ve put on weight, and I’m settled. It has been a long, hard year but an unquestionably good one.

Church has been wonderful. Because I wasn’t travelling as much as I had been in the previous year, I was able to spend much more time being involved in things because I’m not away or exhausted all the time. With all the being away last year, I hadn’t realised quite how disconnected I had begun to feel from my local church. It has been like coming home again after a long time away and it’s unutterably good to be able to spend almost every Sunday at home, worshipping and fellowshipping with my local church family. Our pastor has been preaching through Titus and Hosea recently and it has been both challenging and encouraging. I’m learning a lot.

We’ve also had two weeks of evangelism this year — though it feels so very long ago.The first, at Easter, was in the new church plant in Glasgow and was small in terms of how many could help but it was a great time of fellowship and evangelism and a big encouragement for the folk there. It did terrible things to my accent though.

Nine months down the line and the church is doing well. Thought there are only currently three of them committed to the plant (that I’m aware of), they are coming into contact with lots of unbelievers who are, of course, hearing the gospel. Please do pray for them in their work, it’s not easy. Pray that the church would be built and established there and that unbelievers (there are a wide range of backgrounds present) would come to a true and living faith.

The second week was at my home church in Edinburgh. We had a fantastic team from Alabama as well as brothers and sisters from up and down the country who came to help. We had some great gospel conversations and the preaching was excellent. Some of our members are still in touch with people that we met that week.

Another member and I were asked to begin a youth group earlier this year and I confess I felt (and still feel) inadequate for the task. Some weeks feel harder work than others but I’ve been growing through the study and preparation we’ve done and we’ve had some deep and serious conversations with the teenagers following on from various sessions. Again, if God brings us to mind, please do pray for us here in Edinburgh.

Work has been good. Every job has its stressful moments but I enjoy it and I have a high regard for the company I work for. We’ve brought out some excellent titles this year and it’s always a joy to hear from friends and strangers how our work has impacted them and encouraged them in their faith.

In terms of writing, despite my absence in this small corner of the internet, I have not been idle. It has been a surprisingly productive year. With less stress and more spare time, I’ve been writing a lot and some of the best of it may never see the light of day.

I have written a few posts which, with a little scrubbing up, may make an appearance throughout 2019. I’ve also done a number of guest posts here and there, some about faith, some about writing, some about both. In addition to this, I’ve finally created an author website with brief summaries of what I’m working on and a short, writing-related blog (I squirm as I admit this, it sounds so pretentious). I thought it would take a lot longer to build the Instagram account I created for it but it has surprised me by growing steadily and receiving consistent responses. This year, the plan is to begin an email newsletter, but platforming is the one part of being a writer I truly hate (below even editing) so it could be a few weeks or it could be a few months until I get there.

Back in May, I began a new novel with no prior planning (because you have to love the pants life) and have been adding to it far more slowly than I would like. I’m a fifth of the way through but hoping to put more into it in the coming year.

Part of the reason for my slowness is that I finally caved and did NaNoWriMo in November — though I didn’t tell anyone. I took a break from my current WIP and knocked a 40,000-word dent out of an idea for a children’s adventure novel I’ve been kicking around forever. Though I didn’t hit my 50k goal, it was a busy month and I work full-time to that’s just how it is. I’m not disappointed. 40,000 words in less than 25 days is a solid effort.

More recently, I’ve picked up the book I finished at the end of 2017 after ignoring it for well over a year. I have a strong dislike for editing but I’ve grown so much over the year that it’s much easier to see what needs to be fixed and how to go about it. I’m about 20% through a redraft but it will need a few more passes before I even consider beta readers.

There’s plenty more about 2018 that you needn’t know but I can put my hand on my heart and testify that though it has been tough, it has been undoubtedly good. I’ve changed and grown so much and in so many ways and I thank God for his grace in it all.

What about the coming year then? Is that KA back now? Are things going to…change?

Well, as I said to a friend recently, I feel more like I’m staggering into the new year than bounding in but I’m optimistic.

In church, we keep serving and we encourage each other not to grow weary of doing good. There is much opportunity to serve this year and much to look forward to. I hope to start letter-writing to the Grace Diaspora, I’ve been woefully out of touch. Work continues and I’m settled here for foreseeable future.

When it comes to writing, I’d like to finish editing my first book even though I doubt I’d ever query it. I also aim to finish the first draft of the adventure story and write 70,000 more words of my WIP. It sounds like a lot, but it’s not really.

As for this blog, I’m not going anywhere. I continue to write for my own sanity and though subject matter will probably vary (it always has) it’s business as usual. I’m not planning any changes but it’s possible my voice and areas of interest may have shifted these past months. Sometimes it’s like I don’t even know the girl I was back in January but that’s no bad thing, I believe. Things happen, time passes, and we’re borne ever onward, being made ever new until, at last, we wash up on those eternal shores.

I hope with all sincerity that it has been a good year for you too — no matter how hard. I hope 2019 is the same. All this year, through all the things I’ve had to decide and do, I’ve known that regardless of how I feel at any given moment, God would be faithful in it all and he has been. Nothing can convince me otherwise. Obedience is the safest place to be, even when the right thing and the easy thing are not the same thing.

The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places. They continue to fall in pleasant places and I pray the same for you. Here’s to 365 days of growing more like Christ.

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