Golly, a whole month seems to have gone by. A momentous month in a lot of small ways.
Those who have been following my blog and the previous one, for a while will know that I discovered four sisters a few years ago - a joyous and poignant thing. And on Good Friday, a few little weeks ago now, one of them died. I’m still coming to terms with that - the loss of a sibling - a younger sibling - is a salutary thing, and can not help but make you reappraise your own life and what you are doing with it.
This year, as I said in the previous post, my esteemed other half has a specific job to do, which can be absolutely wonderful, but is also onerous for him. I don’t think it is good enough to disappear for weeks on end, as I’m used to doing, or indeed for my focus to be almost solely on my work, which it has been for a decade. So writing is, I’ve decided, going to take a back seat for the next year.
I find it surprisingly easy to write that! Maybe it’s a good thing to happen, too. Novel no 2, is half there - and half not. The events of the last month or so led me to wonder why I’m chasing my tail worrying about it all, trying too hard to get this one right, and getting it wrong as a r esult. Mainly, I was responding to the expectation that once you’ve had one novel published, you have to do another. Quick! Or critics nod sagely and say, “There you go, told you so.” Then you do another, because that’s what the industry wants. But do I want to do that over and over? I’m really not sure. Whatever, I certainly do not want to fall into the ‘bad second novel’ trap, just to get one out there. Put simply, I am stepping off the industry hamster wheel for a bit, to see what it feels like, and goodness it feels good a few days in!
I’m not forsaking the wider writing life altogether. Still running some very interesting workshops over the next few months, and look forward to putting my creative energies into those. The Word Factory, The Short Story Conference in Vienna among others - I’m looking forward to those with real pleasure - in the knowledge that I have the time and the peace to have fun planning those.
Poetry, and the collaboration with Caroline Davies, a collection inspired by memorials and rolls of honour from WW1, is well under way. That causes no worry, just pleasure, as little pieces surface, are worked on, and add to the kaleidoscope. It can chug along as it needs to. And I can’t wait for a whole week in Ireland doing some learning - working with Bernard O’Donoghue later in the year.
The realisation that I can step off the treadmill is wonderful. My lovely characters will breathe deeply, a sigh of relief, and can have a well-earned sleep for a stretch, and I can come back to them when it is right to do so. They, and their maker, have nowt to prove to anyone - and if peeps think I do, well that’s their issue, not mine!