2015: Year in Review

The end of 2015 marks two and a half years since I gave up my day job at the Health Department. It’s also been my busiest year by far.

That doesn’t mean much when there’s only 1.5 other years to compare it to 😉 but I’ve run the numbers and it was pretty huge.

Here’s the vital statistics:

  • 118-ish days of talks and workshops at schools, libraries and festivals       (way up from 80 last year)
  • 12 festival/conference appearances    (more than the last two years combined)
  • Quietest term: 1st     (same as last year)
  • Quietest month: March     (last year = April)
  • Busiest term: 3rd     (same as last year)
  • Busiest months: August/Sept/Oct     (last year = Aug)
  • 4 trips over east      (down from 6 last year)
  • 1 trip each to Tas, Vic, NSW, Qld
  • 2.5 weeks = longest trip away (Qld)
  • 1 new book released (My Dead Bunny)
  • 3 book launches including 2 inter-state
  • 2 bouts of the flu
  • 1 contract for a work-in-progress
  • 1 grant
  • 2 community art projects
  • 9 editions of the James Foley-o newsletter

Phew.

When I put together a review of 2014 about 12 months ago, I made this pledge:

… while I’ve got lots on the cards for 2015, I don’t want to be traveling at the same break-neck speed; I want to set aside time for healthy eating, for exercise and for enough time with my family and friends. It’s a clichéd New Year’s resolution, but it’s something I really want to do: to have a healthier work/life balance. We’ll see how that pans out in reality 🙂

Apparently I ignored that completely. Let the self-flagellation begin.

On the odd occasion that I exercise, I notice that I have more energy afterwards than I did before. So when I can’t be bothered exercising because I’m too tired, I need to do it anyway. I’ve also got into a terrible habit of having too much screen time, working obsessively through lunch (I did it today). As a result of all this I’ve burned myself out several times this year.

It’s also an unfortunate coincidence that the busiest time of year for a children’s author/illustrator is during the cold and flu season, and we spend most of that time in the presence of germ-covered children. It’s not uncommon to pick up a bug, and this year I caught a few. I’m sure you can imagine how hard it is to talk to a room full of kids with a face full of explosive snot.

Next year I will take better care of myself. Ha! I hear you laugh. But I need to make the pledge. I want to keep doing this crazy job for a good long while yet, and I have to make it sustainable in the long-term – and that means learning to manage my own energy levels as well as my time.

If you want to get into the nitty-gritty, keep reading for a month-by-month account of my 2015.

Otherwise, thanks for reading. I hope your 2015 was successful, worthwhile and fulfilling, and that your 2016 is even better.

And please, remind me to keep to the pledge next year!

January
– finished the finals for My Dead Bunny
– presented at the inaugural SCBWI ‘Books From Your Backyard’, State Library of WA
– presented at the Bruny Island Children’s Literature Festival in Tasmania
– 10 days of talks/workshops in total (Jan 2014 = 1 day)
February
– attended rehearsals for The Giants, and saw the performance in Perth
– presented at Perth Writers’ Festival schools’ day with Kyle Hughes-Odgers
– presented at PWF’s family day
– worked on a collaborative mural with Kyle and kids at PWF
– started an art project at Yanchep Community Centre
– started helping Meg McKinlay set up her new website
– started a free monthly e-newsletter
– 2 days of talks/workshops in total (Feb 2014 = 0 days)
March
– presented at All Saints Literature Festival
– 1 SCBWI meeting
– 1 e-newsletter
– 2 days of talks/workshops in total
– spent 4 weeks in Italy (March 2014 = 1 day)
April
– attended the Bologna International Children’s Book Fair
– 1 day comics workshop with teens
– presented at Mandurah Library Readers and Writers Festival
– presented an online session with School of Isolated and Distance Education (SIDE)
– attended a stop-motion animation workshop
– 4 after-school cartooning sessions
– 10 days of talks/workshops in total (Apr 2014 = 3 days)
May
– presented at Great Southern Grammar Literature Festival, Albany
– presented at Rosalie Literature Festival
– 2 days workshops for Yanchep project
– 1 e-newsletter
– 15 days of talks/workshops in total (May 2014 = 11 days)
June
– gave free talks in Perth with Norman Jorgensen for Celebrate WA Day
– helped with judging for the Shaun Tan Awards for Young Artists
– finished the project at Yanchep Community Centre
– helped to run the SCBWI Rottnest Retreat
– presented at HeARTlines Literature Festival, Mundaring
– 1 e-newsletter
– 11 days of talks/workshops in total (June 2014 = 12 days)
July
– signed a contract for a new book
– made a picture book in a day with high school students
– presented at the Telling Tales Children’s Literature Festival in Balingup
– Shaun Tan Awards night
– 4 after-school cartooning sessions
– 1 evening cartooning class for adults
– 2 nights in Dwellingup at Casa del Binks to work on draft #1 of new book
– freelance illustration job for Caritas Australia
– 1 e-newsletter
– 7 days of talks/workshops in total (July 2014 = 10 days)
August
– 1 talk at Curtin Alumni day
– made a ‘how to draw Bradley the dead bunny‘ video tutorial
– made the My Dead Bunny book trailer
– wrote 2 grant applications
– 1 e-newsletter
– 18 days school talks (out of a possible 21 school days)
– 19 days of talks in total (Aug 2014 = 18 days)
September
– spent two and a half weeks in Queensland
– presented at Belmont State School Literature Festival (Queensland)
– presented at the StoryArts Festival, Ipswich (QLD)
– presented at the Avon Valley Festival in Toodyay and Northam
– prep for book launches
– spent 3 days in Sydney
launched My Dead Bunny at Writers in the Park, Sydney
– book signing and talks at Harry Hartog, Bondi Junction
– hung the My Dead Bunny artwork at the State Library of WA
launched My Dead Bunny at the State Library of WA
– 1 e-newsletter
– 15 days of talks/workshops in total (Sept 2014 = 10 days)
October
– ran a young writers’ workshop at KSP Writers’ Centre
– ran illustration workshops for the Awesome Festival
– 1 day of workshops and talks at Mandurah Performing Arts Centre for writingWA
– spent 3 days in Melbourne
– sessions at Hillcrest Christian College, Victoria
– My Dead Bunny book signing with Books Illustrated at Federation Square, VIC
– 1 SCBWI meeting
– SCBWI retreat at Casa del Binks, Dwellingup
– presented at the Celebrate Reading Conference, The Literature Centre, Fremantle
– 1 e-newsletter
– 11 days of talks/workshops in total (Oct 2014 = 4 days)
November
– 10 days sessions at Neerabup Primary School/Banksia Grove Community Centre for community art project
– presented at the Literature Centre’s open day
– finished draft #2 of the new book
– 1 e-newsletter
– 16 days of talks/workshops in total (Nov 2014 = 4 days)
December
– community centre project installation at Banksia Grove
– Yanchep community centre project finally launched
– community centre project launch at Banksia Grove
– designed a poster and bookmark for the WA Young Readers’ Book Awards
– finished draft #3 and #4 (final) of the new book
– received notification of my first successful grant application from the WA Department of Culture and Arts
– started helping Julia Lawrinson set up her new website
– 1 e-newsletter
– 0 days of talks/workshops in total (Dec 2014 = 4 days)

 

Author: James Foley

James makes books for courageous kids. His books include 'The Amity Kids Adventures', 'In The Lion', 'The Last Viking'. A couple of these books have won awards. People have also bought copies, and for that he is grateful. His new book 'The Last Viking Returns' is out now. Follow James at www.facebook.com/jamesfoleyillustrations , @James_R_Foley on twitter and instagram or at www.jamesfoley.com.au

1 thought on “2015: Year in Review”

  1. I’m exhausted just reading it, James. What an awesome list of achievements and activities. Balance the dynamic creative output with taking more care of yourself and you’ll no doubt notch up an equally impressive 2016 Year in Review.

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