As a valued stakeholder of 'Kathryn van Beek: writer', please find your copy of my 2019 Annual Report below. The report is structured as follows: submissions, disappointments, successes, a tribute and a summary.
My goal was to make 100 submissions to journals, competitions, funding bodies etc, and I came close this year with approximately 81 submissions made.
These 81 submissions yielded 9 successes and 38 declines. Twenty-three submissions still await their fates, and I withdrew 11 submissions after the stories were accepted elsewhere.
Of those 38 declines, I would say that 35 were 'oh well' moments, while the other three led to full-blown 'what is the point in going on I should just impale myself upon my pen' crises.
I am also disappointed in myself for not finishing the illustrations for the second Bruce the Cat book (working on them now!).
A tribute to David
Writing the 'Best Book in the World' piece was one of the highlights of my year, and a real testament to the wonderful man behind the series - talented journalist and really nice bloke David Loughrey. Unfortunately David passed away recently. I don't know what to say except David, in the short time that I knew you, you really enriched my world. Thank you.
Summary ... and hopes for 2020
Though I didn't get the exact feather in my cap that I really wanted this year, I did pick up a bunch of other very nice feathers.
In 2020 I hope to publish both Pet and Bruce Goes Outside (my second children's book), and get a little further along on my doctorate of professional practice.
A huge thank you to everyone who has supported me this year. I love Aotearoa's literary scene - everyone I've met has been so generous and kind. Wishing all of you a happy and successful 2020.
I live in historic Port Chalmers, Otago, and my neighbour Andy Thompson happens to be a very talented photographer. We teamed up to create a photo essay about three historic Port Chalmers pubs that are still thriving today: The Portsider, Mackie's Hotel and Carey's Bay Hotel. After spending a lot of time interviewing the publicans and sifting through Papers Past, we are thrilled that our story, Local Legends, has been published in local magazine Down in Edin today.
Read the Local Legends story here
See more of Andy's beautiful images here
It's likely that the Holidays (Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage) Amendment Bill will have its first reading next week.
The current wording of the Holidays Act makes it ambiguous as to whether bereavement leave can be taken in the event of pregnancy loss.
The Bill, which is being championed by Labour MP Ginny Andersen, would make it clear that the unplanned end of a pregnancy by miscarriage or still-birth constitutes grounds for bereavement leave for the pregnant person and their partner or spouse, and that the duration of the bereavement leave should be up to three days.
The Bill came about as a result of a letter I wrote to Clare Curran about the ambiguity in the Act.
If this change goes through (after the first reading it needs to get through two more readings and two committees before being put forward for Royal Assent) it will be a small change for employers, but a huge improvement for people bereaved by miscarriage.
Miscarriage is still a taboo subject and this is reflected in how we talk about it (it is barely mentioned in pregnancy books) and in the standard of care that people who experience miscarriage receive (most do not receive the support of a midwife).
I hope that this change will help people bereaved by miscarriage feel supported by society at what can be a very lonely and isolating time.
I also hope that by talking more openly about miscarriage we can help remove some of the stigma from what is unfortunately a very common experience.
If you would like to show your support for the Bill, please add your name to the Change.org petition.
If you or someone you love is going through miscarriage, you can find helpful resources on the Miscarriage Support website.
2023 Burns fellow Kathryn van Beek has an MA from Victoria University Wellington - Te Herenga Waka’s International Institute of Modern Letters. She is a winner of the Mindfood Short Story Competition and the Headland Prize. Her collection of short stories, Pet, is available as a podcast, and her work has also appeared in Overland, takahē, Newsroom, and the Sunday Star-Times. She lives in UNESCO City of Literature Ōtepoti Dunedin with her two rescue cats.