Simple English ~ Nicola Prentis

Thoughts on ELT, English and whatever else comes into my head

2014: Another year in which I could have…

…done better.

This year held a lot. For me, it’s mostly held a lot of not enoughs.

I’ve not blogged enough, written enough, nor made enough effort. I have a hard time celebrating achievement because it’s never, ever, ever enough no matter what “it” has amounted to.


I might have started a new one, meaning I’ve now got 4 active blogs, but I didn’t post enough. Especially on the new or my Other Me author blog. The fourth blog, a, thus far, mostly private blog has had a lot of updating but, since it’s not finished, it therefore can’t have been active enough. Simple English started out better and this year has seen 45 posts, but I feel like I’ve tailed off and that, somehow, that number is a lie.

Stats wise, this blog increased by two and half times, my most viewed month was May (told you I tailed off) and my scathing post about the state of the industry was the most popular post. It was still beaten by the 2013 review of Duolingo though, proving that search engine friendly posts and topics are the key to good blog traffic and that my biggest impact (!) on the internet is already behind me.


So, 2014 saw 3 of my books come out — two ELT (Speaking Skills and a Graded Reader which is sort of out) and one, non-ELT, novella. That, to me, doesn’t count for much since they were all written in 2013 or 2012. What should have happened was that I wrote 3 books. Instead, I’ve taken all year to write one. Not good enough.

I’ve extended writing from blogging for myself to writing for publication on other outlets. For ELT this has been EL Gazette, ELTjam, Modern English Teacher and Exam English. For Other Me, it’s been a few online women’s magazines, websites and bits and bobs of publicity on websites. For ELT, there aren’t really that many more outlets I could have tried, especially not paying ones, but I didn’t pitch anywhere near often enough. For Other Me, no way has this been enough. I’ve not pitched enough, not persisted enough, not researched enough possible homes for my writing, not been accepted enough, and definitely not been paid enough.

My novella has equalled JK Rowling in sales. But I mean when she was writing as Robert Galbraith before her real identity got “leaked”. Which, in case anyone didn’t know, means an invisible book. Being published is what you think is the pinnacle when you’re writing for no-one but yourself. It’s not. Being a bestseller might be, but I have the horrible suspicion nothing is ever as good as having ideas and seeing them on paper looking like something you think just might be good enough to be published.

Winning an award for writing … I have to say that is pretty good. I can’t say it’s not a big enough award since it’s the only one I know of for ELT Graded Readers. What I really want for that book, though, is a film adaptation. And for the next one I just sold to a new publisher.


This is where most of my dissatisfaction lies. Along with not making enough effort at pitching, I fell way short of intentions with creative writing, especially short stories and flash fiction. I got two flash fictions published and a short story in an anthology which, judging by the others in its pages, wasn’t that hard. I didn’t get involved in Twitter enough, nor did enough to promote the novel as it all felt so pointless in the echo chamber of other writers tweeting their books at each other. You know when promotion pays off? When you’re already successful or famous.

I didn’t self-publish the novel I finished editing last year. I didn’t get my app done fast enough so that will be next year too. I didn’t do anything on the novel I started four years ago. I didn’t network my way to more ELT work enough. However, for that, I partially attribute blame for the ever-shifting ground beneath my feet as contacts keep getting moved/made redundant/their projects cancelled or put on hold.

However, I did finally put in a proposal for IATEFL and got accepted, along with Russ Mayne for 2015. So it only took two years to get my arse in gear over that. I also tried to launch a SIG for Teachers As Workers but IATEFL stamped all over that so I can’t blame lack of effort on my part.

So 2015, here’s what’s needed:

  • A media whirlwind over the follow up novella
  • A commitment to writing fiction and getting it published
  • A less scattergun approach to the other 3 blogs
  • A novel I write for fun
  • Getting an agent for non-ELT work
  • A solid and consistent effort with magazine and new media writing
  • Self-publishing that old chick-lit novel with the promo idea I think might just be genius – or illegal
  • Storming that conference despite having had a baby at about the same time





9 comments on “2014: Another year in which I could have…

  1. Russ
    December 31, 2014

    This ‘never enough’ feeling…I have it too. I’m not sure how healthy it is to be honest. I wonder if anything is ever enough?

    • Nicola
      December 31, 2014

      I suspect, like Kath says, it’s that feeling that spurs you on. Ask an underachiever, see if they think they’re doing enough!

  2. katherinebilsborough
    December 31, 2014

    You are hard on yourself! But I suspect it’ll be what brings you success 🙂 I must admit to having a smile on my face when I read your plans for the year ahead – if you manage all that with the new baby, I’ll be mightily impressed. Happy New Year … and may all your writing dreams start to come true.

    • Nicola
      December 31, 2014

      I have had moments where I realise that I’m not going to be able to do the half of it – or have to pack it all into the first couple of months of the year. It’s a shock to the system, if not exactly a surprise. That moment where you realise “Oh this is how women have to make choices men mostly don’t.” Not that I’m resentful, but just it’s not the same and I don’t think enough people understand that. Especially me, til now!

  3. Sandy Millin
    January 1, 2015

    Hi Nicola,
    It does sound like you’re being a bit unfair on yourself, especially if you do have a new family. Things do have to change at that point.
    One thing I would say though: it might be worth editing your goals a bit. I’m not sure if you believe in this kind of mantra, but I’ve found having SMART goals very useful. Some of your goals sound like they might not be easy to achieve, precisely because they’re not very specific. For example what does a ‘less scattergun approach’ mean? Does it mean a certain number of posts? A certain frequency of posting? A certain kind of publicity once you’ve posted something? That might help you to make your goals more achiveable, and to avoid, or at least reduce, the ‘not enough’ feeling at the end of the year.
    There’s also a lot there, so perhaps time limits and a priority order might make it easier for you.
    Hope I haven’t been too presumptuous here!
    Good luck and happy new year!

    • Nicola
      January 1, 2015

      Thanks! You’re probably right … but I don’t know about some kinds of goals as I can pick a number, but it would be fairly arbitrary so then meeting it will either mean I aimed too low (so it wasn’t enough) or I pushed myself beyond reason for the sake of it. (NaNoRiMo only works for me as a time to focus on writing with other people but as soon as I try to meet the daily word limit, it’s off-putting, for example). This is specific to blogging and writing but I prefer to write when I have something to say and so setting a goal might mean posts I am just churning out to meet targets. The publicity part is spot on though. I could turn Twitter into more of a quantifiable target, especially for Other Me.

      • Sandy Millin
        January 1, 2015

        That’s the problem with writing: you have to wait for inspiration to strike, which is why it’s important not to beat yourself up about it. Maybe interim goals might work? Along the lines of Kickstarter with their initial goals and stretch goals? Anyway, I’m sure you’ll figure out works best for you! Looking forward to meeting you at IATEFL.

  4. Pingback: Baby goes to IATEFL 2015, part I | Simple English ~ Nicola Prentis

  5. Pingback: Baby goes to IATEFL 2015, part I | The Echo Chamber

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


This entry was posted on December 31, 2014 by in Thoughts, Writing and tagged , .
%d bloggers like this: