Perhaps the best way to review the year just about to end is to call-out what has changed – not that this kind of self-indulgent looking-over-the-shoulder is the sort of thing I would regularly condone. Even annually…
But in many respects it has been something of a wild ride this year. And having this site – one of the first ‘new things’ of 2017 – is a logical vehicle for a little introspection. In any event, I’m probably only joining in with the millions of others who are undertaking exactly the same exercise!
So as the snow falls outside my window (no, really!), let’s start with the concrete stuff.
2017 was the year I rediscovered my writing mojo.
There were two ‘external’ things that were responsible for this: one, I joined the Ripon Writers’ Group, and two, I discovered paperback self-publishing via Amazon KDP. Together, these re-ignited my internal ‘engine’ and gave me a reason to start taking myself (as a writer) seriously again. Don’t ask me how long it had been since I last did; I dread to think…
The upshot was that by about Easter, after harvesting material that had been sitting around for years or was part-finished or had already been exposed to the world in Kindle format just a few years previously, I had completed / revised / edited and then published six books: a “Collected Poems” (though in retrospect it should have been called ‘Selected Poems’); two novels – “Mirrors” and “The Big Frog Theory”; and three novellas – “Losing Moby Dick”, “Riding the Escalators”, and “Writing to Gisella”.
Not a bad start!
And once in the groove I pushed on through a new volume of poetry, “Human Archaeology”, which was published in mid-summer. Close on its heels came a collection of short stories, “Secrets & Wisdom”; a mix of old and very new.
“Human Archaeology” proved to be a milestone for two reasons. One, it was the first book I published away from Amazon KDP – and proved to me that the Ingram Spark platform is far superior in terms of flexibility and offering to authors. Two, it provided the opportunity to be a contributor in October’s inaugural Ripon Poetry Festival, where I ‘launched’ the book at a shared reading. It had been years since I had read publicly in such a way – so another remarkable thing about 2017.
The experience with Ingram led me to cease publication of my three novellas with KDP, and to combine them in a new, single volume “Losing Moby Dick and Other Stories” [which means that it you have one of the early 2017 KDP original paperbacks, they will be rare!].
More than that, my self-publishing experience from earlier in the year convinced me that I needed a ‘label’ under which to now publish, if only to give the books a degree of additional credibility. Thus Coverstory books was born. Both “Losing Moby Dick and Other Stories” and “Secrets & Wisdom” are available under that imprint. I also took the step of setting up the Coverstory books website and dip a tentative toe into the book world as ‘a publisher’, offering my experience – and imprint – to others. I haven’t really promoted the service yet – could be something for the New Year…
The final ‘big things’ of 2017 were a) joining the Poetry Society’s North Yorkshire ‘Stanza’ group, and b) the luxury of a week’s writing at the Garsdale Retreat on the North Yorkshire / Cumbria border. Such a fantastic thing to do! And in a way the retreat (and the Stanza group) confirmed two things. First, that the mojo was indeed back in the house; and second, that I can write and feel I have things to say. It was also the catalyst for a new project (see below) that was born as a direct result of that week at Hamish and Rebecca’s.
So what about 2018?
One almost certain thing is the publication of a new volume of poetry planned for the end of February, “Punctuations from History”. Currently about 85% complete, I expect January and early February to be focused on revision and preparing the final manuscript.
I’m also currently working on the draft of two fiction projects, though it’s a little early to confirm exactly what these will be – novel / novella / short stories? – or when they might see the light of day. Of course to a large extent that will depend on how much time I have to dedicate to them. In hindsight, I know I was lucky not to be working ‘professionally’ at the beginning of this year; having free time enabled me to get so much writing and publishing done. Right now I’m chasing down new work for 2018, and given that it will almost certainly be full-time when it arrives, my writing time could be significantly curtailed.
Of course, if a million people bought my books, I wouldn’t have to worry about that at all!
In any event, I’m not going to stop writing again. I just love it too much.
Happy New Year everyone!