My best year yet or stocktaking for beginners

There is a hardware and general store in Bonar called The Corner Shop.  It is tardis like in that it really isn’t very large but I defy anyone to go in and be told that whatever they are after is not in stock.  I went up one day last year and was surprised to see that it was closed.  On my return the following morning I was told that they had closed for stock taking, they were almost done now but it helped speed things up a bit if they could shut just for one day.  You have to have seen the shop to have even the faintest idea of what a challenge stock taking would be.  There is no space from floor to ceiling that is not usefully taken up; yet a request for anything usually results in only the slightest of waits before it is located.  To have only one day off to stock take is an achievement in itself.

It was with this in mind that I began this year’s personal stock take.  The ins, the outs and the net growth.  What have I achieved and what have I failed to do.  The latter is just as important, we learn from our mistakes but only if we know what they are in the first place.  I didn’t need a stock take to tell me that there have been some pretty huge additions on both inventories but even I was surprised by some of them.  You think you know yourself, and certainly your immediate history (even I can just about remember as far back as 1st January 2012) but try the exercise yourself and let me know if there aren’t any surprises, and I’ll tell you that you haven’t been completely honest with yourself!


  • I finished Timesmudger (see below for disappointments).  Even if it is the world’s worst novel I still think writing 70,000 words of relatively coherent narrative with a beginning lots of middle and an end is something for which I deserve a pat on the back.
  • After point one below I had a professional review, completely rewrote and have a far better novel that after yet another review (thank you Caroline) will be ready to go out early this year.
  • I started a new, completely different novel and had two professional commentaries (one free and one paid for) both were very encouraging and I patted myself on the back for that just in case nobody else would.
  • I have been going to yoga classes regularly since September 2011.
  • I have managed to set aside time for reflection, meditation, writing morning pages and so forth most days.
  • I learned to say I cannot cope and need help.
  • Along with the wonderful Liz we set up the village’s first Messy Church and if we say so ourselves, it’s been a success.
  • I made contact with old friends.
  • I have made new friends and maybe even business contacts on Twitter and through blogging. – don’t diss social networking.


  • Every single agent rejected Timesmudger – lesson learned – I need an editor.
  • I am even heavier than I was at the beginning of 2012 – lesson learned – get off your lardy bum and keep a better eye on what you eat and drink
  • I am not infallible – lesson learned – and this was a big one – when everything appears to go pear shaped, when you think that you will never know why to smile again, don’t do anything stupid.  Ask for help, or if you are lucky enough surround yourself with people who will do it for you.  I had both.  I’m not quite sure where I would be if I hadn’t been so fortunate.
  • The vegetable garden produced almost nothing this year – lesson learned – even if you do live somewhere now more appropriate for rice and water lilies than brassicas and tomatoes you do still have to get out there – the garden does not garden itself.
  • I didn’t get half as much done as I intended – lesson learned – first do check the size of your list and the stuff you put on it.  Then learn not to procrastinate and waste time.  Am investigating a number of strategies to overcome this and will report back later in the year.

I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions but I do make a plan for next year.  I like plans, they make me happy, but more usefully they help me keep on track.  I am so very easily distracted as everyone who has ever taught me will testify.  I have tried various planning systems including variations created by me or adapted by me but until I discovered The Best Year Yet four years ago nothing really worked.  No, I am not on commission, no they don’t even know I have mentioned them (but if you are reading this anyone from the team – please can you reply to my email about renewing – without a US Zip Code you won’t take my payment which is a little irksome for both of us).

I’m not going to tell you what it is, or even how it works because that’s something you are best learning as you go along.  They have 30 days free trial on at the moment (though if you live outside the US renewing is proving rather difficult see above!). Give it ago.  What have you got to lose?

All the very best to you all for 2013, may this year bring you love in all its many forms, hope, peace and the realisation of a dream or two.








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