Monday, 1 January 2018

Happy New Year 2018!

Happy New Year 2018! This year is the tenth year of this site, come 1 December 2018. It is going to be a clear year for re-assessment, and I need to take some time this year to work out my future in writing.  I have someone as mentioned before who is aninspiration, the excellent Tim Lebbon, but the important thing is that I know I have to find my own path, so I will make my own way forward.

You may have noticed that this site was quiet for a while, and so was I. I'm still here, still writing, but at times, it's hard. The last two years have not been easy, I'm gonna level with you. The whole of 2016 was a difficult year that found me coping with depression. I don't know why I was dealing with it, but eventually it went away. It contributed to different things, such as I couldn't write, and I found everything getting to me. I did not even take part in the Worcestershire Poet Laureate competition as I have done every year since 2011. The only thing I could write which turned into a sort of therapy were a few poems about the black dog. I will probably burn that notebook at some point, in some cathartic purge. Despite all the overtures about equality, we live in a very macho culture, and to admit that you may have problems is, to some, to admit that you are not worthy of being considered a real person in society. You have to hide it. I mostly hid it, and got through it. It was not easy, not easy at all, but I'm over it now.

2017 was a year of recovery, particularly for the first half of the year. I focused on my interest in languages mainly to keep me going. I also got back into Freemasonry to give me something to look forward to each month. It was a relief to discuss this year with a number of friends that they also had problems with the black dog; each of us felt all the better for knowing that we were not alone. I took part again in the 2017 Worcestershire Poet Laureate competition, but I felt I did not stand a real chance this year, so how I got to the final, I don't know. I turned up, had a few beers, read my poems, and clapped when the best poet Nina Lewis was announced. I've barely written for two years, but something is coming back to me. I gave NaNoWriMo a crack in November, but failed, but here's a good sign, this failure did not bother me. I got 8,000 more words that if I had not bothered at all.

In December 2017, it was back to 42 with the first fresh piece of writing that was worthy of performing for a long time. I love 42 in December. We never used to have a 42 night in December. However, I was so inspired by the idea of M.R. James having a Christmas gathering and reading ghost stories to his friends, that my suggestion was born that we do something similar, so we did. The problem with me writing again for the first time in ages, is that I was out of touch with what was quality and not in my own writing. I read my piece, and it seemed to get a good reception.

I sometimes worry I'm pushing myself too hard with my writing. I drew up a plan at the end of 2015 to write a novel every three months. I was inspired by the fantastic output by Lindsay Buroker and Zoe Saadia who seem to publish a new book every month, and they are brilliant for it. Unfortunately I don't have the time (due to a mortgage and having a full time job to pay it) or the energy to do that. Plus the black dog took care of any creative output for about a year, with another year of just being happy before I was properly writing once more. In effect my writing plan is, I confess, put back two years.

So what have I been doing of late, otherwise? I've been really focusing on understanding my craft of late, so perhaps in the next few weeks I can write some reviews of the great writing books I've been reading. I've also been getting back into just enjoying fiction, movies and books.

It's time to think about the future and look forward again. I've been working with poetry a lot the last few years, but it doesn't seem to have got me anywhere, I have sold sweet fuck all in the way of my poetry collections (links on the right if you want to buy them!) but then again poetry doesn't sell much anyway, so I'm going to focus more on prose again. Poetry is easier to read out at performance nights, but I know that I prefer writing prose, because I like writing and reading it more. It's new year, and an arbitrary number change on the calendar seems to be the right time to see about new goals, although I could set these goals at any time. Planning out one novel every three months was too much especially for 2016, so here's a goal: I will write AND publish two novels by the beginning of November. In November I will write a new novel and publish it in time for Christmas. The whole goal of becoming a full time writer within ten years of the start of this website hereby gets put back two years, and will be a goal to try to achieve by the start of December 2020.

I had better get writing now. I now have but one problem: I have a great opening line, but I don't know what happens next....