You all know me by now. At every end of the year I get all reflective and wistful and gush on about everything I loved over the last 12 months and all the dreams and wishes I have for the next 12.
Well this year… I am going to do exactly the same thing. Haaaa. So here we go!
2018 - A Year Of Transition
Whilst 2017 was a year of big moments and exciting changes (getting married, turning 30, going to Japan), 2018 was more a year of slow transition. I feel like I’ve been building this big cocoon around me ready for my metamorphosis in the new year, as well as adapting to a new phase of my life. It’s funny, I was so grumpy about turning 30 last year, but now it feels like this is the decade I’ve always been waiting for. I’ve never felt better about myself or more confident in my own skin. I love being married and building a life with Mat. I have a wonderful network of friends and family around me, and I know what I want to do in my life and who I want to be spending time with. I definitely feel myself shedding the insecurity and uncertainty of my twenties. I don’t feel the need to apologise so much and I’ve lost the guilt at being more assertive. Of course, it’s still something I’m constantly working on and I’m sure by my forties I’ll have figured it out even more, but for now I’m thoroughly enjoying this decade. It’s the age that seems to fit me the best so far.
I’ve been working really hard this year, making big life changes and sewing seeds that I hope will start to sprout in 2019. I don’t want to look back in regret at this stage of my life so I know I’ve got to get moving and make the most of this time. The hardest thing for me has been learning patience. I’ve always felt like an anxious whippet at the start of a race, legs trembling, stomach clenching, ready to run after that damn rabbit, only the door never seems to open. It’s a difficult emotion to live with and sometimes the frustration overwhelms me, but I’m doing my best to breathe and trust that everything will happen in its own time. I can’t control the big picture, but I can keep making small positive changes that build up one by one. Every year I am growing and expanding, one job, one song, one connection at a time, and I know that the change I am craving will come when it’s ready. In fact, it’s already here, seeping in softly rather than crashing into my life in a big way. I sense it with everything I do and I’m making sure to stay open enough to receive it.
Anyway, enough poetic shit. Here are my highlights of 2018:
~ Finishing my book!
OK, if you happen to trawl back through my old blog posts you’ll find one from October 2017 saying “I’ve finished my book, it’s nearly ready to go!” HA HA HAAAA! I hadn’t finished my book. I’d finished the first draft. And then my friend Ellie jumped on board as co-writer/editor and the hard work really began. I am sure I’ll talk lots and lots next year about this whole process so I won’t go on about it here, but the short version is that Ellie took my story and turned it from something with potential to something (hopefully) publishable.
The whole year has been filled with meet-ups, working sleepovers, Skype calls, messages and voice notes back and forth constantly. There have been times we’ve wanted to kill each other, but there is no one else I would ever have wanted to do this project with. Ellie’s passion and hard work inspire me every day and I’m so proud and excited about what we’ve made together. This is definitely the hardest and the best thing I’ve ever done and I am not sure what the next stage will be or how long it will take, but come 2019 the ball will definitely be well and truly rolling with it. I CAN’T WAIT.
~ Getting my new home studio
Thanks to my parents kindly helping me out, I was finally able to invest in a mini home studio this year. I had a little set-up already, but the laptop was glitchy, the mic was fuzzy and it was in serious need of an upgrade. I was putting off upgrading for so long because I’d lost confidence with my home-recording and was worried about paying it off. However, finally going for it was the best decision I ever made! Being able to record a decent vocal from home has completely freed me and the more I’ve used it, the easier it has become to use. I am now able to work with producers all around the world, pitch for jobs with short deadlines and take paid session work. I’ve saved loads on travelling around and I’ve nearly paid off everything I owe already thanks to the extra work it has brought me. I’m sure I can improve and keep getting better with it, but so far so good. A huge thanks to Megan Linford too for advising me on what equipment to get and really helping me, and to Chris Earle for helping me buy it and setting it up for me.
At the end of this year, the contract with my publishing company expired and I made the decision to finally go it alone with my music and songwriting. I am very grateful for everything they have done for me, the connections I have made and the cuts I have had in my time with them, but I need a change now and want to explore so many other avenues of my music. I feel over the past year that I have not been working to my true potential and there are so many people out there to meet and collaborate with that it’s time to go out there and do it. I’m ready to get back into the world of sync music, meet new pitchers and pluggers and producers, and really see what I’m capable of with a different direction. It’s a little daunting, but very exciting and I’m hopeful for what opportunities the new year will bring now I’m free to cast my net far and wide.
~ Going to Budapest
This year, Mat and I randomly decided to go to Budapest, based on the fact it was suggested to us by Last Minute as a cheap and interesting break. I didn’t know what to expect but I really fell in love with the place with it’s mix of history, beauty and quirkiness. It was so nice to have a little adventure together somewhere new and we’re planning to do more unusual places in the coming years. Here’s my little holiday vlog if you missed it:
~Harry Potter & The Cursed Child
My beautiful wedding present last year from Mat was front row seats to the theatre show I’d been desperate to see since it first opened. We did both shows in a day and it was an absolutely amazing, magical, perfect experience that lived up to all my expectations. Even Mat loved it and he doesn’t even like Harry Potter! It meant so much to me that he got the tickets and that I could share it with him, it’s the best thing I’ve ever seen at the theatre and something I will remember forever.
~ Kanata & Tomo coming to visit
My dear friend Kanata who I met on a songwriting camp showed me and Mat such a great time in Japan when we went for our Honeymoon, and this year we were able to repay the favour by hosting her and her amazing partner Tomo in UK! We had a great few days together, showing them around Portsmouth, Brighton and watching the Royal Wedding with jam and scones. It was such a special time and I hope we can do it again soon. It’s so nice having friends all around the world and sharing our cultures. I am so thankful for music and everyone it has brought into my life!
(PS. This picture HAHAHA)
~ My 31st birthday party
I was too busy with “wedmin” last year to make any special celebrations for my 30th birthday so I decided to have a “30 +1” party this year instead. All my friends and family dressed up as iconic 90’s/00’s stars and I WAS SO FRICKING IMPRESSED with the effort everyone went to. It really meant a lot to me and was so much fun to celebrate with all my bestest pals, dancing madly to the music of our youth. My friend Ellen from Norway also came along as she was in UK which was so lovely! I was Amy Winehouse for the night and I think it’s a look I need to adopt for real.
~ TAYLOR SWIFT (And other gigs/shows)
Taylor Swift is my ultimate musical hero and this year I got to see her at the top of her game on her Reputation tour in Wembley. It was SO inspiring and emotional, especially as I got to see her with Matty and Paul. At one point she played Long Live solo on the piano and Paul put his arm round me and I just felt ALL the feels hit me. I’ve grown as a songwriter and a person alongside Taylor and I relate so much to her and her lyrics. To see her hold the whole of Wembley in the palm of her hand completely solo was incredible. I loved it so much and I’m so happy we went.
I saw LOADS of other amazing artists this year who inspired me - Ben Folds live in Guildford was one of the all-time best gigs I have EVER been to. (I LOVE that man). I also got to see Nerina Pallot, Dodie, Kate Voegele & Tyler Hilton, Vonda Shepard, HAIM and Britney Frickin’ Spears at my first ever Brighton Pride. So many wonderful musicians I adore toured this year and I feel so lucky I got to watch them all. I saw some great theatre shows too including Kinky Boots, The Play That Goes Wrong & Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (GO AND SEE THIS, IMMEDIATELY). It was such a good year for shows and gigs, I enjoyed them all so much.
~ General creativity & cuts
On top of working on the book, I’ve had lots of other fun creative projects and sessions on the go this year. I’ve been writing my merman story “Whispers Beneath The Waves” on Wattpad as a little side-project, I’ve had lots of great songwriting sessions with new and old friends, I played some wonderful gigs, I recorded and released the audio-book version of “Reasons To Love A Nerd Like Me”, I officially released my Nerd Christmas special, I recorded the duet “Scars” with Paul which he released on his album and went on a K-Pop Camp in Godalming. I’ve also started writing and recording more from home with my new set-up and had my vocals used in an Italian tights commerical!
Cut wise, my co-written track “Silly” was released with Gugudan at the start of the year and charted in Korea. I also found out that my Kana Nishino cut “Best Friends Forever” from last year has been included on her new live tour DVD which charted at #1 in Japan over Xmas woohoo! The album also certified Gold this year which is such an amazing achievement.
I’ve also had news of other cuts and projects which will be coming out over 2019 - so I’m already super excited for next year!
There are so many other things to shout about from 2018 - other highlights include going to YALC with Katie (AND MEETING TOM FLETCHER EEK!), my weekend photoshoot with Sazzie and all our fun times together, Ellie & Alex’s gorgeous wedding, our friend’s Hannah & Ant setting up their own bar in their back garden and putting on amazing hospitable evenings for us, all-night Disney cinema followed by cat cafe with Lou and managing to lose a bit of weight after joining Slimming World!
Now here are my goals and dreams for 2019. I am going to do everything in my power to make them come true.
2019 - GOALS & DREAMS
1. Pitch my book to the right person and finally get it out into the world
I know that releasing books in the traditional publishing world takes A LONG TIME so I might not be able to shout it from the rooftops next year, but whatever happens I am getting that ball rolling and taking the next step forward. I have no idea what will happen or what route this book will go down, but whether it’s through an agent, self-published, or picked up by someone from a different creative area, I am getting it out there into the world by any means possible. IT IS TIME.
2. Sort out my social media/online presence/GET ORGANISED
Oh Lord, it’s all a MESS. But I have new photos and I’m sorting out a proper showreel ready to pitch out to new companies. I want to tweet more, blog more and start building up a proper presence online. I’m cleaning up the mess of my Youtube channels and I’m making VERY ORGANISED spreadsheets of all my songs and which company owns what. I need to sort out my hard drives which are an explosion of crap. I need to keep lists within lists within lists. I NEED TO GET IT TOGETHER AND I WILL.
3. Start a podcast
Over Christmas, Paul and I drunkenly decided we were starting a pop music podcast and it’s literally all we have talked about since and THIS IS HAPPENING AND I’M SO EXCITED.
4. Get back into library music
Now I’m freelance, it’s much easier for me to explore the world of sync music and library catalogues. It’s an area of music I’ve severely missed working in and I want to get back into it. I’m a little daunted about starting from scratch and finding the right companies, but I hope with my musical CV that the doors will open a lot more easily than when I was just a rookie. I really want to make this happen and try and make a proper career from this, which leads me to…
5. Make music/writing my main income
For so many years I feel I have been skirting around a proper career in music, getting closer and closer, but never crossing that threshold. I’ve made a lot of changes this year and now I want to start getting serious about earning real income, not just pocket money. I know many people who have made music either their full-time career or part-time second job, and I know I’m ready and experienced enough now to reach that level myself. It is definitely difficult to make consistent money through songwriting, but my goal for the new year is to build up all the many sides of my creative work until I’m able to cut down hours in my day job. This includes songwriting cuts, session jobs, library music, live gigs, fiction writing and guest speaking. Lots and lots of smaller jobs add up and I’m going to do everything I can to make my dream career happen.
6. Read More
I say this every year, but I’m gonna get on it in 2019. My “TBR” list is getting out of control and I need to tame that monster.
7. Save for a house deposit
We are getting there slowly, but every month our savings creep up a little more and more. I’m gonna try and nudge it even higher next year so we can finally get on the property ladder.
8. Be more selective
I want 2019 to be a year of quality not quantity. My time is so stretched at the moment and I want to make sure I’m taking on the right jobs, focusing on the right projects and spending time with the right people. It’s always hard to say no to things, especially when everything sounds exciting, but I need to stick to my goal of building up income and sometimes I’ll have to turn down the glamorous, fun pitches in order to work on the dependable projects that will earn money. Of course, I’ll always take a chance on the pitches that inspire me, but I want to get a better balance and not lose too much time on jobs that aren’t definite.
9. Focus on my own music more
I really enjoyed the gigs I played this year and when I free up some time I’d love to work on some more of my own music again next year. I want to make more Youtube videos, play more (good quality) gigs and write/record more solo tracks. I have been so swamped with everything this year that I’ve left my own personal projects behind, but in 2019 I’d love to get back to my roots more.
10. Be proud of myself!
I spend too much time pushing forward to the future, wanting and wishing for bigger things and being really, really hard on myself. I’m my own biggest critic and I am always downplaying my achievements, constantly feeling like I could do better. Well, this year I want to stop doing that so much and take time to be proud of the things I’ve achieved. I’ll always want to do more and dream bigger, but I shouldn’t keep trivialising the things I’ve done so far. I’m planning to make a “Dream Book” with all my cuts and dreams that I’ve made come true so far, so that anytime I feel low I can look through it and feel inspired and proud of myself!
Phew, that was a long read so thanks if you read the whole thing. I’ve really enjoyed looking through all my old photos and lists from the year and I’m so happy to see so many happy moments and relive all the memories.
2018, you’ve been a good one.
2019… I’m ready for you!
Wishing all of you a super productive, amazing and exciting 2019 too - let’s go smash it.