How was it for you?

February’s now here, so I thought I’d post a little update on how the ‘New Year, New Start’ has gone so far. Whilst the rest of the world feels like it’s falling apart thanks to the Tangerine Toddler, it’s been a creatively promising month in this corner of Fife.

First, I’m extremely pleased to announce that I’ve now got a literary agent, Jenny Brown of Jenny Brown Associates. How did this happen? Well, it’s all thanks to the magic* of Twitter – and a great little initiative called Tweet Your Pitch. Organised by XPONorth, the trade network for writing and publishing in Scotland’s Highlands and Islands, it’s a one-day open call for book pitches from writers across Scotland. The catch? Your whole book needs to be crammed into just one tweet. Mine was:

Jenny got in touch to say she’d be interested in finding out more; I sent through my proposal and a sample of writing, and a week or so later we met in Edinburgh to seal the deal. I’m beyond honoured to be represented by Scotland’s best-kent agent, alongside the likes of Kathleen Jamie, Alasdair Gray, and Gavin Francis.

Second, Tweet Your Pitch also got me in touch with Glasgow publishers Freight Books, who liked my idea for a book detailing the experiences I had nine years ago whilst living in Japan. Last week I meet with design guru and Freight head honcho Adrian Searle, who gave me a much-needed confidence boost, a reading list and several pointers regarding narrative construction – and introduced me to the weird and wonderful (?) world of Wool Fetishists. Go on, click on the link…

Third, I finished my first freelance copywriting and editing job – producing the School of Geography and Sustainable Development’s new magazine. It hits the newstands university website next week, and has helped me reach my January freelance earning target (phew). It also helped me to snare my second freelance job, copyediting a book on coastal rowing – which should keep me financially afloat through February.

On the book front, I’ve drafted the prologue and first chapter of the wool tome (you can keep up-to-date with this project over on This Golden Fleece) and am now rolling up my sleeves to crack on with chapter two. I had a great day’s research at the National Library of Scotland, combined with mornings mostly spent in the University of St Andrews library – cosy, spacious, and completely free! I’m also approaching the finishing line with January’s knitting project, a pair of intricate Dentdale gloves in Shetland wool. And my wool trivia is growing a-pace: who knew that Virginia Woolf was a literary knitter?

It’s been a busy month, but a good one – hopefully this momentum can carry me through the rest of the year…

*=reclaim Twitter from Trumped-up terror, says I

New Year, New Start

January – a month for promises and plans. I usually start the new year by making an effort to eat better and exercise more (along with everyone else), but this year I’m trying something different.

Back in December I handed in my notice. I’d been working in a full-time post in new sector since August, but I hadn’t enjoyed it and felt an almost-daily dread about going to work. I didn’t have another full-time job lined up to go to – in fact, I didn’t even want one. For the first time in my life, I wanted to try a different way of working.

I have wanted to write a book ever since I was a child. I wrote my first poem when I was seven, my first children’s story at eleven, and since then have been squeezing in my writing around full-time work, full-time study, a long-distance relationship or two, and a year spent living and teaching in Japan. I’ve got married, moved house almost once a year, travelled to America, France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Austria, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Sweden. Work has always come first, writing second. Or third. Or maybe fourth or fifth.

I’m now at the beginning of my thirties, and I’m not really any closer to being an author than I was at the age of eleven. So that’s what I’m going to do in 2017: write a book. Researching and writing it will be my nine-to-five, something I sit down to do each day. Even on weekends and holidays I’ll be writing for an least an hour a day. Although I might not make the magical/mythical 10,000 hours in just one year, I’ll be a couple of thousand closer.

What is the book about? Well, I’m going to be knitting my way round the British Isles in a year, writing about what I learn as I go. I’ll be blogging on This Golden Fleece and you can also keep an eye on what I’m up to on Twitter @thisgoldfleece, Instagram @thisgoldenfleece and Ravelry ThisGoldenFleece. I’ll also be experimenting with lots of types of writing and hopefully signing up for a course or two along the way.

I’m lucky to be part of a household with one full-time income guarenteed through my partner’s work, but I’m also looking to pick up freelance copywriting and creative project management work too (more on that here). My first offer of paid freelance work has just come in so will be looking to build this up over the next few months. If you’re looking for a copywriter or project manager specialising in literary heritage, do get in touch on https://estherphoeberutter.wordpress.com/.

Wish me luck!