Well, 2017 has come to an end and 2018 has begun. In many ways I feel like not much has changed since this time last year when I was looking back on 2016. I feel a little like my life has been stuck on a bit of a merry-go-round that hasn’t really gone anywhere but around and around. In short, I feel 2017 was another mixed year – I won some and I lost some. But I do feel that 2017, like 2016, has been a year of growth and development.

Looking back on my 2016/2017 blog post I laugh at all the ridiculous goals I set myself. I might have been able to do them if I was a full time writer, but working full time in a day job with only nights and weekends at my disposal? Not a chance. It’s great to have plans and goals, but I really didn’t allow any time for life to get in the way, and it always does. I could sit here now and go through it all – what I managed to achieve and didn’t off that list – but I’m not going to. I’m going to approach things in a different way. I’m just going to focus on what actually happened in 2017 and not what I hoped would.

So what did I accomplish in 2017?

  1. I released the first box set in the Aurora series (Books 1-4) for those readers preferring to buy in bulk.
  2. I finished and submitted to my agent my new novel outside of the Aurora series, known only as ‘TS’ at this stage.
  3. I made the decision to self-publish my other novel The Time of the Stripes, which opened at #1 on the Australian iBooks SFF Chart, and so far it has been received pretty well (phew!).
  4. I had all the Aurora books reformatted in both ebook and print to ensure there were no contractual problems with its previous publisher.
  5. I managed to write 80% of Aurora #7.
  6. I attended a bunch of Australian cons, including SwanCon, Oz ComicCon, Continuum and GenreCon.
  7. I ran my first ever series of Facebook adverts – attracting new readers to the Aurora series.
  8. I’ve developed several other novel ideas, both SF and Thriller – writing their blurbs and opening scenes.
  9. I also spent some time venturing back into screenwriting, undertaking some short courses through the Australian Writers Guild, watching online seminars through The Script Lab’s Online Screenwriting Summit, and read a bunch of other literature on the craft.
  10. I’ve commenced a thriller feature film screenplay and received professional feedback on the synopsis in one of my courses. In short, I was told that it was a great concept and very filmable.

I also achieved something that I kept private previously but thought I would now share given I’m looking back on the year. Since 2015 Screen Australia has been promoting a wonderful initiative to help get more women in the film industry, called Gender Matters. One of the initiatives within this program was called ‘Smart for a Girl: Roar’, which was run by producer Imogen Banks and writer Alice Bell (through EndemolShine). The focus for Smart For a Girl: Roar was to take some new TV writers and train them up in real TV writer rooms as they developed an idea for a show. Originally the plan was to take 12 writers and split them across 4 rooms. But the strong performance of applicants saw them increase it to 15 writers across 5 rooms. Now, 935 women applied to be one of these writers, and I was one of them. In Round One we had to answer a questionnaire about ourselves and our writing, and we had to submit a one page concept pitch for a TV show. The TV show I pitched was the Aurora series, which I submitted under the name ‘Aurizun’. I was over the moon when I found out that I’d made it through to Round Two. Approximately 100 women did, which meant I was in roughly the top 10%. In Round Two we had to submit 5 pages of script – and I chose to submit 5 pages from the thriller film I’ve been writing – to try and show some versatility in both ideas and genre. Unfortunately I didn’t make it through to Round Three. I’m not sure how many did, or whether it was just the top 15 that made it through (Round three, the final round, were interviews). So clearly my screenwriting wasn’t good enough to make it into the top 15, but also, in hindsight, I realise now that I was foolish to submit a screenplay sample from a film when the job was for TV. They’re different kettles of fish and I clearly didn’t give them what they asked for. My bad, that was a very rookie mistake. But you live and you learn right? I’m still proud I made it into the top 100 with my concept pitch (and it being the Aurora series too!). Now I just gotta sharpen my screenplay skills further – and submit the right things to match the program I’m going for!

On the negative side for the year, my ebook aggregator Pronoun announced they were closing down. This was gutting for a lot of authors as their staff were helpful and their dashboard was pretty glorious and easy to use. Worse, though, was that with them closing down I’d have to move all my books and yes once again lose all my ratings and reviews on iBooks and Kobo etc. I can’t tell you how depressing this is. Not many readers leave reviews/ratings, so it’s like striking gold when you get them. And then to have them wiped out again….. It’s not just the reviews it’s the sales data as well, so your book’s history is literally being wiped out. It doesn’t matter how many books you’ve sold or whether you hit #1, all that data is gone and your book loses visibility. Gutting, I tell you. Gutting. And this is what happened to me last year when the publisher closed down too. You see why this year felt like I was on a merry-go-round?

So, yeah, you know how I said that life can get in the way of your plans? Well these two things – the Smart For a Girl: Roar and Pronoun closing are two things that did. With Smart For A Girl: Roar I was stoked to have made it into Round Two and when I did, I had to clear the decks and focus on screenwriting for a while, which meant all of my other plans got pushed back or out of the way entirely. With Pronoun closing, I suddenly had a whole bunch of admin work to do – setting up new accounts, etc, which meant that time I had put aside to finish Aurora #7 was suddenly gobbled up by this.

But both those experiences were a good learning curve. They taught me a lot, namely not to have such rigid plans. So this year, I’m keeping my plans to a minimum. And by minimum, I mean:

Goal 1: Finish and release Aurora #7.

That’s it. That’s the only thing I’m committing to achieving this year. Why? Because I get now that life will always throw things at you that you don’t plan for. And I mean both good and bad things. If an awesome opportunity arises, I want to be free to say ‘Hell Yeah!’ and grab it with both hands. If a problem arises, then I want to be able to say ‘That’s cool. I’ve got time to deal with it and I won’t feel bad for not doing all this other stuff I said I would.’

Of course, if time permits outside of accomplishing my one goal for 2018, then I would dearly love to:

  1. Finish the thriller screenplay and see what I can do with it.
  2. Write the next novel outside of the Aurora series (I just have to decide which one from all my ideas!).
  3. Try to (finally) get my novels into audiobooks.

Other than that, what will 2018 hold? Well, the only other plans I have made so far is attending WorldCon in San Jose, California, in August. Beyond that, who knows.

But you know what? Whatever does come my way, I’ll have the capacity to handle it.

So here’s to 2018. I’m ready for you, but I’m done with the merry-go-round.

About Amanda Bridgeman

Author of the science fiction space opera series, AURORA, Amanda Bridgeman studied film & television/creative writing at Murdoch University (BA Communication Studies) and has been published by Pan Macmillan. Aurora:Meridian was a finalist for Best Science Fiction Novel (Aurealis).

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