Reflect, Review and Renew – Hello 2016

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It’s the start of a new year so a good time to reflect on the positive and negative aspects of 2015, and introduce myself to others who are enrolled in Blogging 101, a wonderful free course by WordPress to help people like me who want to improve!

  • I’ll review what I’ve achieved
  • Where and how my writing and teaching can improve
  • And set some goals for 2016

(Meanwhile, abstaining from mentioning the word ‘resolutions’ – after all they’re made to be broken!)

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2015 was the 20th Anniversary of Mordialloc Writers’ Group, a group I founded and still coordinate. With longtime member, Glenice Whitting,  I co-edited and published a collection of personal essays from 20 past and current members.

The launch was successful and fun with over 100 people attending, including the current Mayor of Kingston and 3 past mayors, local and federal members of parliament and councillors.

tmsin Mairi and Bill 2
Mayor Tamsin Bearsley, Mairi Neil and ex-Mayor Bill Nixon.

I still have technical issues to solve to enable a book link to be permanently displayed on the Mordy Writers site and Amazon so the anthology can be downloaded free. However, these links work thanks to Draft2Digital:


Page Foundry





The book is on Amazon too but is not free there yet.

The classes I teach in local community houses have been delightful as usual. Some of the work the students finished has again been published in four class anthologies. Helping writing students publish their wonderful poems, short stories, memoir and essays is satisfying and inspiring.

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Two of the classes also produced Zines mid-year – fun to write and easy to publish. We concentrate on short form poetry and flash fiction. This year we tried Twaiku and had a lot of fun. (Well some students did!)

Penultimate by M C Neil
The writing class complained
Digital tools are not for them
Pen and ink and even type
Will outlast this Twitter hype!

Lesson planning takes a lot of time but so does blogging I’ve discovered. I know I overthink and over plan! However, I was humbled and proud when one of my blogs on the value of poetry was reblogged by another teacher/writer.

Spending so much time preparing lessons and teaching I don’t want George Bernard Shaw to be right when he said, “ He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.”

As long as I finish some of my own projects  and have a poem or short story published elsewhere each year, I figure I can still regard myself as a writer.

My successes this year, modest though they are, were great to have:

A story in ‘You’ll Eat Worse Than that before You Die’, An Anthology of family, friendship and food, Melaleuca Blue Publishing, February 2015.


A poem in ‘Inner Child’, poetry anthology, Poetica Christi Press, June 2015.


A poem in Writers For Calais Refugees, November 2015.calais32.jpg

I started this blog at the end of 2014 and promised myself to publish at least a post a week. WordPress have kindly furnished information that proves I published 105 new posts in 2015!

In their parlance ‘the crunchy numbers’ are:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,000 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

The busiest day of the year was November 8th with 164 views. The most popular post that day was How A Community Celebration Can Teach Tolerance.

Not world shattering figures, but a promising start. It certainly gives me a benchmark to improve. I am thrilled at the post that received the most views because in a world where tolerance seems in short supply, I am proud my community is actively promoting inclusiveness.

The second most-viewed post was Limericks, laughter and Lessons – Form Poetry is Fun.

I don’t consider myself a poet, but do love all types of writing and playing with words. If it works as a poem, I’ll have a go. In a writing class with limited time form poetry can give students a sense of accomplishment as well as motivation to do homework.

I’m looking forward to teaching more form poetry this year.


However, for me, the post I enjoyed writing the most was sharing my visit to Samoa, not just because it was a visit to paradise and the realisation of a childhood dream, but what Samoa represented.

The trip was to celebrate 5 years with no recurrence of breast cancer after my mastectomy in October 2010. There is no more positive note to end this introductory post to my new buddies of Blogging 101.

2016 is the beginning of my journey towards a decade clear of cancer and chalking up more satisfied students and more writing credits!


10 thoughts on “Reflect, Review and Renew – Hello 2016

  1. A great year Mairi! I’m hoping to pick up some tips from you about how to use that new WP editor, I live in fear of them dropping the old one and then I won’t know how to do all kinds of things!


    1. Lisa, if I could go back to the old editor I would, although I’m getting the hang of it, I think:) I should have done this course last year – was enrolled, but Margaret died and I dropped my bundle for a while. Anyway, I’m giving it another go and even if I only learn one thing it will be worthwhile.


  2. congratulations Mairi, another great year. It’s your attention to detail and your caring and nurturing nature towards everyone you meet – and your wicked sense of humour that makes knowing you – in your classroom and as a friend so special to me.


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