What Happened in 2018?


Hi everyone, like many people at this time
of year, I like to sit down and think about what I got up to the year before. If you are
freelance, like me, at this time of the year you are pulling together lots of papers, thinking
about work you’ve done over the past year or so, and before that, as it’s tax time.
So, inevitably, I’ve been thinking about work I’ve been up to and also thinking about work
I’d like to do in the future. So, I want to sit down and talk to you about my 2018, some
of the things I achieved and some of the things I got up to in my personal life; some of my
favourite things, so books, films, podcasts etc and I’d love to talk to you in the comments
section down below about what you got up to in 2018 as well. I’ll be making a video soon
about specific goals I have for 2019. I don’t have many of those; I don’t tend to use new
year as a jumping off point for starting new things but I do, as I said, like to reflect
and think about areas of my life and job that have been changing and that I would like to
continue to change. All of that stuff. But that’s for another video’; today we’re just
looking back. So, I’m going to try and keep this as brief as I can, sum up everything.
In my personal life in 2018 I got married. In April Mr M. and I got married. We’d been
together 13 years. It was a very, very small ceremony. We just went to our favourite restaurant,
which is Dishoom, afterwards with a couple of friends and his parents, to eat all of
the things, which was fantastic. It was a very low key day and we enjoyed it very much.
We went on a belated honeymoon to Japan in November. We wanted to wait until the autumn
season to go there. I’ve made a whole video talking about trip to Japan and showed you
videos and photographs, so if you’d like to see those I’ll link that video up here and
down below. It was a lovely time. There were some things that were not so lovely in 2018,
some of which I can talk about on here and some of which I can’t because I talk about
myself and things related to me on this channel but I don’t want to talk about specifics with
regard to my family on here, because it’s not their channel. So, in 2018 I had some
health stuff, which wasn’t very fun. My eye sight started to change and I made a video
talking about that and the possibility of losing my sight due to a genetic condition
I have, so I’ll link that video up here and down below because we’re not going to talk
about that here, because that’s not that… I was going to say ‘exciting…’ it’s exciting
in the wrong sense of the word. It’s not uplifting, so we’re not going to talk about that today.
There was also other things that went on in my life. We lost some people in my family,
which was very very sad. As I said, I’m not going to talk about that here but I think
it’s important to acknowledge that real life happens outside of these highlights videos.
On the internet it’s difficult; I don’t ever want to pretend that everything is fine, and
I don’t think I do that on this channel. If I’m having a tough time or something like
someone dying happens, I do tell you about it in the sense that I tell you that things
are not great. So, yes, some not great things happened in 2018. Those were the main things
I wanted to mention with regard to personal life but, and this is something I’d like to
talk about more in my goals video, but when I was sitting down and making lists and reflecting,
I realised how much work had dominated my life last year. And not necessarily in a bad
way because I love what I do, but that’s something I’d like to address going into 2019. So, speaking
of work, let’s look at writing first. At the end of 2017 my children’s picture book ‘Franklin’s
Flying Bookshop’ and my short story collection ‘The Beginning of the World in the Middle
of the Night’ were published in hardback, so both of those came out in paperback in
2018 and I did lots of different events for them. I wrote the third book in the Franklin
series which is ‘Franklin and Luna and the Book of Fairy Tales,’ that’s coming out in
2019, and the middle book in that series came out in 2018, ‘Franklin and Luna Go to the
Moon.’ That was published in September. ‘Franklin’s Flying Bookshop’ has now been published in
ten languages, which is really very exciting. ‘The Beginning of the World…’ is being published
in Chinese very shortly, and is possibly being turned into a play. I don’t have details about
that right now, but it’s a lovely, lovely thing, and some of my old books ‘Weird Things
Customers Say in Bookshops’ etc were translated into a few more languages. I was longlisted
for the BBC National Short Story Award, which was lovely and I secured a book deal for my
poetry collection ‘The Girl Aquarium,’ which is coming out in a couple of months… which
has come around very quickly! Outside of writing work, I judged two book prizes last year.
I judged the Forward Prizes for Poetry and the Somerset Maugham Award. Because I was
judging two national book prizes, I read more last year than I think I ever have done…
several hundred books, which was… interesting! As well as that, I also was the Poetry Book
Society’s poet in residence; I started writing book reviews for TOAST magazine and now run
their book club; I uploaded over 100 videos on this channel in 2018, and I gave lots of
talks and lectures at universities, schools, museums, book festivals. I chaired events
here and also worked with some libraries and universities in the States and Canada, which
I’d never done before, which was a very fun thing to do. I relaunched my podcast BOOKS
WITH JEN, where I chat with authors about their books, and if you’d like to find out
more and subscribe I’ll link it down below. I also ran lots of writing workshops both
in person and online, and launched an Editorial Services part of my website to give feedback
to people working on novels, short stories, poetry, children’s picture books etc which
has become a new part of my career and something I’ve been enjoying immensely. So, that sums
up a lot of what I got up to work-wise in 2018. Another highlight was Franklin being
painted on the window of the Tate Modern, which was very surreal and exciting for both
Katie and I. So, yes, that’s what I got up to in 2018 work-wise, and I thought I’d talk
about some of my favourites from the year, too. I’ve made notes for myself as I know
I will forget things. My favourite books of the year — I’ve made a whole video talking
about my favourite books of the year, which you can watch… I’ll link it up here and
down below. My favourite two books of the year were A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen
Mirza and English Animals by Laura Kaye. Both of these are absolutely superb novels that
I wish I had written myself. So, if you’d like to go and find out more then watch that
video. TV series. There were a few. I really enjoyed The Staircase, which I’m sure most
of you have seen. It was a reissue of a TV show, with extra episodes added on at the
end. A true crime story. It’s about a man who, many people believe, murdered his wife,
and he has always said that he didn’t do that. So, it’s a TV crew that he hired to follow
him as he prepped for his court case, so it is rather biased; it’s been interesting reading
articles talking about things that were missed out, and other theories. I believe it was
this series that really got me into true crime in 2018. I didn’t get into it massively, but
this was something that made me want to watch more series. I’d previously watched Making
a Murderer and I’d listened to the first season of Serial but I think it was The Staircase
that really peaked my interest. I also watched the Assassination of Gianni Versace, which
was about Andrew Cunanan, who assassinated Versace. It was on the BBC. It starred Darren
Criss… Darren Cross… Darren Criss who played Andrew Cunanan, and he was… I mean
[Darren Criss] is… just wonderful human. It was the same people who made The People
Vs OJ Simpson and I’m sure that most of you are familiar with it, but I’ll link both of
those TV series, The People Vs OJ Simpson and Versace in the description box down below.
I think my favourite TV show of the year was Maniac, which was a Netflix original that
starred Emma Stone. It really, really reminded me of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
In this, people are brought in for an experiment where scientists claim that they can rewrite
traumatic memories so that they can be at peace with themselves. But there are two characters
whose memories and traumas seem to be linked and…. I’m not going to say more than that
but definitely go and watch the trailer and watch the whole thing if you haven’t already.
I have four favourite films for 2018. The Three Identical Strangers, which is a documentary
about three men who didn’t know that they were triplets; they knew that they had been
adopted at birth but they didn’t know they had each other. That isn’t actually the story,
though; that is the very beginning of that film, and they start looking into the history
of the adoption process and it gets very, very sinister. Another favourite film for
me from 2018 was Shoplifters, which is a Japanese film about a family who are living in poverty.
I also watched Victoria, which is a German film which is filmed in one take and… it
wasn’t until the end of the film… because we watched it on our laptop; we rented it…
that I realised I had been reclined on the sofa, very relaxed, and by the end of the
hour and a half or however long the film is, I was on the edge of my seat, I was biting
my nails… I was so tense. I felt like it was going to have a friggin’ panic attack.
It was the most intense film, where I felt so invested in these characters. It’s more
like watching a film because it’s filmed in one take and skill it took to put that together
is immense. So, if you haven’t watched Victoria, do; it didn’t come out in 2018, it came out
a few years ago. And then also I have to mention Bohemian Rhapsody, which is my most favourite
films. It’s about Freddie Mercury, it’s about Queen. The music in the film is genius; it
has lots of laughed but is also well-balanced when it comes to emotions. It has hard-hitting
stuff and then a few jokes as well. I loved it, as a huge Queen fan, and I wanted to have
quick special mentions for Black Panther, Infinity War and Mamma Mia 2, all of which
filled me with joy. My favourite discoveries of 2018… I think I discovered Lucy & Yak
in 2018 and, as you know, I have several pairs of their dungarees. They are a fantastic sustainable
clothing company. I also have one of their coats which is made from recycled plastic
bottles, so if you’re not familiar with them and would like to know more, I’ll link them
below. I believe I also discovered Thought clothing in 2018. They make the best ethical,
sustainable socks, so if you need some socks I’ll link them down below. Another favourite
discovery for me this year was Ambrose Cafe, which is inside Heal’s on Tottenham Court
Road, which is hidden and I think not that many people know about it. They make amazing
food on-site; they make their own doughnuts. It’s a great place to go and study. They have
long tables with chargers and they encourage you to stick around, which links in with another
favourite of mine from 2018, which is that more of my friends have become freelance this
year, or have moved towards becoming freelance, so we’re had lots of study/work days together,
and that has been a welcome change from sitting on my own in front of my computer every single
day. Finally, on my list of favourites I wanted to mention a few podcasts. Mr. M and I are
very late to the game but we have been loving listening to ‘My Dad Wrote a Porno,’ we listen
to it when we are making dinner in the evenings and it makes us laugh a lot. Do not listen
to it on public transport as it will make you snort-giggle. I’m also very late to ‘My
Favorite Murder’ and I binge listened to this in the summer because I had a goal to walk
for an hour and a half every day, for my mental health, which I’ll talk about more in my goals
for 2019 video, because I slipped somewhat as it got darker earlier in the evenings,
but in the summer I was listening to so many podcasts and I was walking eight/nine o’clock
at night, walking around, feeling great, and I really enjoyed listening to My Favorite
Murder. I haven’t listened to it so much recently… you know when you discover something and you
just want to inhale everything but, after a while, you feel like you’re a bit done with
that thing… I think that’s how it is with My Favourite Murder, or perhaps I overindulged
and need to come back to it, but I enjoyed it for what it was at the time. My favourite
podcast, though, was West Cork. Oh my goodness. I haven’t stopped thinking about this… I
think about it, I think, every week and I listened to it in the summer. It’s a true
crime podcast and it is on Audible, it’s one of their free podcasts. It has some people
in it in who… I feel about it the way I feel about S-Town in the sense that it has
characters in it who, if they were in a novel, you would say were unrealistic, but these
people actually exist and I found it absolutely fascinating so, if you haven’t listened to
that, please do. So, that’s everything I wanted to say about 2018, or at least everything
I want to say now about 2018. Summing everything up is, I think, pleasing because it’s nice
to reflect on achievements and what we’ve done. As I said, there were tough parts of
the year which I haven’t focused on here for many different reasons and even though the
work I’ve done on my books and freelance career I’m very proud of… some of the year was
quite tough. There are always behind the scenes that happen that you can’t talk about for
one reason or another. On the whole, though, apart from personal family things, career-wise
2018 was a very good year for me and I have my fingers crossed for 2019 as well. Lots
of different things in the pipeline. I would love to know how your year was, if you’d like
to share. If you don’t want to talk about your work or personal life, I’d love to know
about things you discovered in 2018. Podcasts, TV shows, movies… maybe Youtube channels.
If you’d like to tell me about your favourite Youtube channels, that would be lovely. I’m
going to leave that here and I hope you’re having a good start to the year. I’ll be back
with a new video soon. Lots of bookish love. xx

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