Positives of the Year 2014

No matter how horribilis an annus horribilis is, there is always a mirabilis aspect to it as well. Translation: no year is so bad that it doesn’t have its golden moments. Readers of one of my more self-pitying previous posts will know that 2014 was not that great for me. But what are some of the things that I will remember with pleasure?

BookPile21) Reading: quantity and quality. 189 books, roughly 56200 pages, exploring new horizons, huge diversity in terms of languages, themes and genres. 14 of those got 5 star reads on my Goodreads ticker tape (mostly poetry and non-fiction, oddly enough). Only 1 got one star (Katherine Pancol, in case you’re wondering. Not that my modest opinion will affect her outstanding sales figures!). And although quite a large chunk of the books I read were published after 2000, there was quite a good spread of decades, going back to 1908. I’m not sure how they count the classics published before the 20th century!

2) Poetry: I’ve not only started reading more poetry this year in printed format (full collections rather than the odd poem here and there online), but I’ve also completed a poetry course via Fish Publishing, from which I learnt so much (even if it has temporarily paralysed me a little with self-censorship). I’ve also been much braver about submitting poetry, even if it has tailed off in the last few months of the year. I submitted to 17 literary journals and anthologies (multiple poems in each submission, I hasten to add) and have had a total of 9 poems published. (I’m still awaiting a couple of responses.) One of my poems was also longlisted for a poetry prize, which was an additional boost to morale.

3) Community: It may seem sad, but the online community of writers, readers and bloggers has become more real to me than the people who physically surround me. Call it expat isolation, arrogance or depression, but I choose to put a more positive spin on it. It’s easier to establish common ground and become friends with people who share your passions, even if they are scattered all over the globe, rather than try to pretend common passions with the people with whom you just happen to be living in close proximity. As a global nomad, I’ve become used to the fact that most of my best friends are an email or telephone call away in another country, rather than within easy visiting distance. It simply makes the times we spend together even more precious!

Having said all of the above, I should add that the Geneva Writers’ Group has been a wonderful ‘real’ community of people passionate about literature. Even if I haven’t been able to attend all of their workshops, it is a wonderfully diverse, supportive and inspiring group of people.

Zozo54) My Cat: This year in February, a cat finally came into my life, after about 4 decades of hoping and wishing for one. I say ‘my’ because she is most certainly ‘my girl’, rather than the family cat. She ignores my husband, tolerates my sons and even sometimes plays with them… and adores me. She follows me around everywhere, and is happiest when she is cuddling up to me, kneading the blanket and sucking onto it – I must remind her of her mother. She may be a bit of a wuss when it comes to other cats and dogs in the neighbourhood, but she’s a good climber and outdoorsy type. She is the most gentle, affectionate, obedient cat you can imagine. She has taught me so much about patience, unconditional love, quiet support (with a purr and a rub) and just generally being calm and relaxed.

5) My Boys: Well, you didn’t think I was going to forget about them, did you? They’ve been one of the greatest sources of stress and anxiety this year, but also one of the biggest joys. Intelligent, opinionated, argumentative, droll and completely unsentimental, they make me laugh and cry many, many times… each day! I just hope I won’t mess them up too much on their way to adulthood.



Hope you’ve all found plenty of positives in your year, and here’s to wishing you all a very good 2015! Thank you very much for your wonderful company and see you in the New Year.

35 thoughts on “Positives of the Year 2014”

  1. What a wonderful post Marina and so much I can recognise myself. Your cat, my dog. Our children, hoping we don’t mess them up. Loving our online interactions, because they are real people and real communities, just held apart by distance. I love that your poetry has been doing well and wish a wonderful 2015 with submissions and everything else you have planned. X

    1. Thank you for your kind words. BUT you’ve had your novel published this year, Rebecca, so that’s a great plus and difference to myself! Definitely something to be super-proud of. Wishing you all the best in 2015 too!

  2. What a lovely positive post! Hope 2015 is just as positive for you. It must be lovely to have such a friendly cat which ‘helps’ you. hehe I hope you have many more happy reading too.

  3. It’s been lovely to make your acquaintance this year, Marina. I particularly look forward to your Friday Fun posts – thank you for all those. Here’s to more happy reading in 2015.

    1. You are so kind, Susan – it’s been great to make your acquaintance too. And I love the Friday Fun posts – we all need a little escapism now and then, don’t we?

  4. I love this post, Marina Sofia! It’s always good to think about the positives; even bad years have them. I feel the same way you do about the online community :-), and I’m very happy you’re finding such joy in your cat. I think pets make all the difference in the world.

    1. Yes, I’d always suspected pets help with depression, loneliness and just everyday stress (in fact, when I was volunteering for a suicide helpline, I remember we were told to ask about pets, as people who had them were on the whole less of an immediate suicide risk than those who were completely alone), but I hadn’t quite expected it to make such a difference to me personally! Thank you for your support and comments throughout the year, Margot – it helps more than you know.

    1. You make me wish I lived in an English-speaking country so I could have easier access to all of the films you mention on your blog. I used to watch a lot of the black and white classics during my childhood.

    1. Mind you, having dogs is not that different from having little boys! Toddlers most certainly resemble puppies – but mine are older now, thank goodness. I hope you have a good year too, it’s been a pleasure meeting you online.

  5. Well done with the success on the poetry front! 🙂 Totally agree about the beneficial effect of cats on life – I got my first cats when I was living away from home and incredibly homesick, and they quickly made the place I was living feel like home too. And the online community is important to me too – such a great way to connect with people we’d never normally get to meet.

    Best wishes for 2015!

    1. And to you too! The online community is what the Germans call ‘Wahlverwandtschaften’ – family of choice, isn’t it? In real life you often only get to meet such like-minded people by happy accident…

  6. Well done with getting your poetry published Marina.

    I currently have 3 comatose cats, one on the sofa here with me, 2 taken possession of the bed. It’s been a hard day for them………another cat (rather a sweetie) periodically comes and sits outside where he can be seen. All he does is sit and look, and listen to the caterwauling on this side of the cat flap. No one seems inclined to do anything more aggressive, no hisses, complete silence from the one outside, just a round-eyed look.

    But clearly, cat opera singing is an exhausting activity.

    I do think one of the advantages (as well as one of the drawbacks) to the online community is the fact we are all in different times, so if someone ‘speaks’ to you and you are right in the middle of something else, there is no offence if the response happens minutes, hours or even days later. There isn’t the same challenge to being in the middle of something else and someone demanding you attend to them right now!

    1. Oh, I had to laugh at your description of the comatose cats…
      Mine is currently being courted by a ginger tom (who’s visiting for Christmas, apparently, rather than a permanent new addition to our neighbourhood), who comes to our garden and stares at her, looks in through the window and generally messes up with her territorial markings. Our cat is NOT amused, runs up and down the stairs in fright, caterwauls, has to go out and rub against everything all over again etc. So she too is very exhausted…

      1. Back in 2001 or so, we had a similar experience: this disreputable-looking feral cat fell in love with my little black cat through the French windows. Eventually, after a fight with a raccoon (we caught him in a cage, took this bleeding baggage to the vet, got him spayed while he was there), he decided one day to take the plunge and be a domestic cat. It was about a year and a half before we could pet him much (he’d obviously been abused in some former home), but he became the sweetest, most affectionate cat of all time. He died this past summer, and we were desolated.

  7. Wonderful post. I am also an expat and I felt a shock of recognition when you said your online literary contacts were more real to you than others.

  8. Happy New Year and hoping this year the positives outweigh any negatives. Did you post a list of your favorite books read last year? Would love to read it.

    1. Thank you and hope you had a great start to 2015! The previous post – Room for Yet Another Book List? – lists my favourite reads for last year, across a variety of genres. Let me know if there are any you’ve read and liked.

  9. Happy 2015! Just wanted to say thank you for your blogs, your poetry and your support last year with your review of Defending Elton! Hope to have something new later in the year…

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