The Year of Taking a Deep Breath …

… and writing a great many things …

… is here. It’s here.

What is she talking about? you mutter.

Upon which I refer you to my earlier post, The Year of Doing Way Too Much and Nowhere Near Enough.

And then I say this:

In 1999, in an airport departure lounge, I scribbled the beginnings of what would eventually become my first poem.

In 2001, I said out loud to someone for the very first time that I was interested in maybe writing something one day. I remember this very clearly for reasons I will save for a future blog post.

In later 2001, I had an idea for a picture book, and thought it was excellent and bound to be published.

From 2001-2006, I collected approximately 762 rejection letters for that picture book, other picture books, chapter books, Young Adult novels, and novels of indeterminate genre and readership. I also published a few poems.

In 2007, my first novel, Annabel, Again, was published.

In later 2007, my poetry collection, Cleanskin, was published.

                     2782WALK_AnnabelFULL02.indd    Cleanskinhires

From 2008-2015, I published a further 11 books for children and a far-too-small handful of poems.


In 2016, I wrote far too little and was overwhelmed by far too much. I had RSI in my wrists and my broader chronic pain condition was flared up so often it was being described as ‘acute-on-chronic’. I was managing everything very poorly while working very hard to make sure that no one saw that.

In August 2016, I made the decision to leave my day-job, scale back my volunteering, and stop taking on freelance work. I had to stop squeezing writing completely out of the picture and also start looking after myself a whole lot better. I told very few people about my decision, partly because I was quietly freaking out about finances, and partly for day-job confidentiality reasons.

In November 2016, my novel A Single Stone won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award, bringing with it an insane pay-check of $80,000 tax-free.


In November 2016, approximately six hours after the announcement, I sat bolt upright at 3am, freaking out because now people might think I was doing all this because of my win. Because all of a sudden I was too good for this other stuff. Because pish-tosh! I didn’t need it any more. Because I had become an instant diva.

In the cold light of the next day, approximately six hours after 3am, I thought, “Meh. Who gives a rat’s what people think?”

And after a long process of extrication and handover and the winding up of many things …

On 9 January, 2017, I woke up to my first official day as a full-time writer.

And spent it writing this post.

9 thoughts on “The Year of Taking a Deep Breath …

  1. James Foley

    I remember you before you were famous.

    But seriously – you deserve the time to focus on your writing. The award money was just a confirmation that your decision was the right one. Good onya Meg!


    1. Meg McKinlay Post author

      Yeah, you met me back in the not-diva days. These days I only eat blue M&Ms.

      But seriously – thanks. And I hope 2017 brings you an excellent balance of your own many bits and pieces. I was about to say, “If there’s anything that needs doing just let me know!” but that’s what got me into this mess in the first place. 😉


  2. intheirownwrite

    Breathe deeply – and enjoy! Wishing you many creatively satisfying years of doing what feels right for you. I’m so pleased you decided to let go some of your commitments to make space for more writing and nurturing time.



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