I'm feeling very pleased with myself, having finally sorted out how to get my links to show up on the sidebar - and without any help from teenagers, none of whom are at home today. Hint: yes, it is something to do with widgets. I did get some help from a writer friend (thanks, Maggie.)
One of the things that stuck with me from Marilyn Duckworth's talk last week was when she said that joining PEN (now the NZ Society of Authors) helped her to connect with other writers and to believe in herself. She said that writers are at the mercy of readers and publishers, and it can be a "damaging ride." That's very true. It's hard to explain sometimes how very vulnerable you can feel when sending out a manuscript, and how deflated and devastated if - for any one of a number of reasons - it ends up being rejected.
On the other hand, I'm very conscious that it is a privilege to have the chance to work on a manuscript and send it away, to have the time, the equipment, the education. Last year we spent a month in Laos and Vietnam, where people work terribly long hours simply to earn enough money to send their kids to school. Another time, we visited our daughter who was teaching on a remote island in Vanuatu. One of the teachers said, "how lovely to be able to go away on holiday." When we returned to the capital, Vila, we met the woman who did the laundry at our hotel. She had come from that same island over 20 years before to earn money to send back home, but she'd never been able to afford to go back herself, and had grandchildren whom she had never seen.
So sitting here fiddling with links and widgets is a huge privilege, and I'm grateful to all my writer friends for their support and encouragement.