To misquote Dickens’ Sydney Carton. I suspect I’m not alone in this sentiment: the political landscape has shifted seismically across western countries – and not necessarily for the better (understatement, much?!).
I’ve been somewhat subdued this year, you could say I’ve been underperforming. I’d say I was battered about by anxiety and illness and a sense of helplessness that I would do well to shake off. Well, we’ve had the winter solstice this week, and new year comes with a sense of renewal so perhaps it’s time to embrace a factory reset of my own mind and begin again afresh in 2017.
I’ve not planned this post – whatever falls from my keyboard is kind of spur of the moment so apologies for a lack of coherence. I am also typing this with a small white dog asleep on my knees so my blood supply is currently restricted! And the little white dog – Jack – has definitely been amongst the best of times this year. Nothing will ever replace Miss Sally, but this little chap has been with us 4 months now and is absolutely delightful in his own right.
Here he is in his favourite place – snuggled into my huge purple dressing gown (‘the aubergine’) about to snooze. He’s like a little limpet. He’s just a sweetie.
I’d been considering myself a bit of a writing failure this year after the novel I was working on got a critical sneeze when I sent it off for professional feedback earlier this year. Honestly, I’d have preferred a full on savaging than the ‘Meh, it’s ok…’ underwhelmed shrug. Once I stopped smarting (and reminded myself I had asked for it), the advice provided was actually very good in terms of making it a much stronger piece. The only problem was that I’d have to begin again. Entirely from fresh. Meh.
So I had a bit of a wallow, a bit of a snivel, then stepped back to look at what has gone ok. Well, Den of Geek have published 8 solo and 2 collaborative pieces of mine across the past 12 months. They would happily accept more but my self-doubt demons have been out in full force and I write things then delete in a fit of pique. In 2017 I have to stop this and let them make the decision (er, a Goldbergs odd-list anyone?! I have 44 episodes lined up for a rewatch – heaven!).
I was also highly commended in a local writing competition for a story themed on unintended consequences that I decided to write about a hand transplant with a mind of it’s own. It was an odd little story so I am rathe chuffed with this. So, it’s not all bad and despite there being other rejections that smart I’m coming to the conclusion it’s how you pick yourself up after them and get back on with the job that matters.
The feedback I got also made me think – really think – about what I want to achieve with a novel. I’ve written 2 first drafts and 2 fairly substantial projects abandoned half way through. I have a plan for Jan – March 2017, an idea I want to play with and it’s kind of fun, kind of where I should be going. The husband has been great for sounding ideas off. Usually over wine! My big issue is self discipline – so come the new year I will be spending 2 hours a morning 3-4 mornings a week in my local library writing. I can generally do between 1,000 – 2,000 words a session in there when focused and with a planned structure to adhere to.
I also realised recently, when in the planning of this project, that I appear to be what is known as ‘Neo Victorian’. I intend to embrace and explore this side of myself next year, especially as it fits with my writing theme. Though I’m not sure Baba Yaga ever really set up home in the North York Moors in 1914!
Sometimes you wonder about coincidence. I’d decided to write Baba Yaga in as a central character in the novel earlier this month when I popped to town to renew my Lit & Phil membership. Near the L&P is a lovely second hand jewellery shop that sells silver charms. I have a bracelet I’ve been building up for a few years (if I get paid for writing I often buy a charm to add). In the window there was a tiny little charm for £6 – Baba Yaga’s house, with the witch inside – I had to buy it. I couldn’t get a decent photo but it is the cutest thing – and strangely symbolic. I feel like I’ve put my feet on the right path. Now it’s just up to me to keep taking the steps forward. I’m going to stumble occasionally. That’s ok. It’s how I get back up that matters.
I’m going to end this post here, on a positive. I will do a follow up, on the books and music and people (husband!) who have inspired me this year, and plans beyond March for next year. It just remains to say for those who keep coming back here despite the lack of posting, thank you. And have a wonderful winter holiday.