Image Credit: Book covers from Chapeltown Books. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos. Author images taken by Adrian Symes.
Today would have been my late parents’ 61st wedding anniversary. (They made it to 55 years together when we lost Mum in 2015).
Anniversaries are important. They form much of our history (1066 probably being the most famous and yes the entire year is an anniversary date. A less “well known” year for this is 1936 – the Year of the Three Kings – George V, Edward VIII and George VI. There has been a Year of the Three Queens too – 1536 – Catherine of Aragon, who always maintained she was rightful Queen of England, Anne Boleyn, both of whom died in this year thanks to the same brute of a man, and Jane Seymour. I’m no fan of Henry VIII incidentally as you might have been able to tell!).
The Most Important Anniversary
Remembrance Sunday is the most moving anniversary date in our calendar, I think, where we take time out to stop and remember. We also remember why it is important to remember and, if anything I feel this is becoming an even more important event, given there are not so many veterans still with us now. Some things should be remembered long after any one person’s life time. The nation needs to remember.
Taking Time Out to Recall
I guess that is what anniversaries mean for me then. They make me take time out to recall, to be thankful for good times past especially when loved ones are no longer here.
What I don’t like, I admit, is some of the “tat” that seems to go with anniversaries. What I want (in terms of giving and receiving) is a lovely card with a nice picture, thoughtfully chosen words (and there is an art to this), and the sense there is meaning here. There should be meaning. What I don’t want are the balloons, the fluffy toys, or the crude cards and things like that. That for me has nothing to do with anniversaries. (It has everything to do with marketing and for me this kind of thing gives marketing a bad name. Marketing is needed. Tat is not).
Different Stages in Life
Anniversaries represent different stages in my life as well though I don’t remember them all. I think you can only recall so much. But I would count the major one here as being my wedding day (and therefore my life before and after that point). I also think the year in which you lose love ones, especially parents, is a stand-out marker in your life too. Also the year in which you have children, if you are blessed that way.
On a happier note my writing anniversaries would include:-
2009 – first story in print with A Helping Hand in the Bridge House Publishing anthology, Alternative Renditions.
2017 – From Light to Dark and Back Again published by Chapeltown Books
2020 – Tripping the Flash Fantastic published by Chapeltown Books
2020 – First appearances on radio thanks to Chat and Spin, Hannah Kate’s Show on North Manchester FM.
2020 – Podcast appearances on Wendy H Jones’ The Writing and Marketing Show.
2021 – Giving Zoom talks for the first time and, yes, being paid for them.
2021 – Taking part in an international writing summit for the first time, back in March.
2021 – Taking part in a Book Festival for the first time – this will be later in November. I will be at the Brechin/Angus Book Festival and will be running a workshop and, separately, giving an author talk.
2021 – Setting up my author newsletter
In between all of that I’ve judged flash fiction competitions and continue to write and submit flash fiction and short stories, some of which end up online or in print or, if they’re for CafeLit, in both formats.
The Highs and the Lows
I think it matters to make yourself recall the highs as well as the lows (and the lovely thing with my writing anniversaries is they are generally highs). We inevitably have a fair number of these and I find it helpful to remember the better times especially if I’m going through a rough patch. And we all do go through those rough patches whether it is to do with our creative life or other aspect of life in general.
A probably mythical story but one I love is that of an old man who was asked what his favourite Bible verse was. His reply was it was the one which said “and it came to pass”. When pressed to say why, the old man said “because the Bible never says it came to stay”. I love that.
And after the last year or so, it is more important than ever to remember (a) loved ones, (b) to be appreciative of good health and the NHS (and what a 72nd anniversary that had in 2020!), and (c) to make the most of opportunities that may come our way.
Why the latter? Because sometimes there will be points in your life when you will take time out to recall things and some of those things will be those aspects you wish you had got around to doing but for various reasons didn’t.
I can understand why people have a bucket list. I hope people get to fulfil a lot of the things they have on these things. I can see the point of setting out what you would like to do. Also writing it down means you are far more likely to do it. There is something about the act of writing things down that helps you make those things happen. Writers find this a lot. I have to actually get a story or a blog post down. I can’t just think about it. So I start drafting and before I know it I have a piece of work to edit and polish and submit.
Anniversaries in Non-Fiction and Fiction
Anniversaries often make great topics for non-fiction writers (and Writing Magazine regularly produces a page of anniversary events from 100 years ago, 90, 80, 75 etc all the way down to 10 years ago. The whole idea is to flag up topics other magazines might be interested in you writing about for them).
Sometimes they can be the set theme for a story competition. And you can have your characters commemorate an anniversary. Why does this date matter to them? Do other characters feel the same way about it?
In my Time for Tea in From Light to Dark and Back Again I get my character, Horace, to finish arranging tea things as it is a year since his children’s last visit to him. Without giving too much away, the story goes on to show all is not as it seems here but the anniversary date was the hook my character needed to get his children to visit. So anniversaries turn up in fiction too.
Whichever anniversaries you choose to commemorate, I hope the recalling of these things does something positive for you as an individual. I find my looking back makes me more appreciative especially of those closest to me. And it always worth taking time out to recall that!
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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