Wednesday 3 May 2023
Wednesday 14 December 2022
Hello fellow travellers in the sphere of chaos! It’s been a long time since we last spoke, and – much like meeting relatives at a wedding party – I’m here to give a roundup of recent(ish) events. It’s been a mixed year of highs and lows, and I think that cocktail is quite important to endure and for others (especially writers, given my occupations) to recognise that it's not all unicorn poo and rainbow dust, so here’s the dirt and the diggidy:
Con: In January, just before my birthday, my then-agent dropped me. I gotta admit, it was pretty devastating and felt like a major step backwards in my career. Finding an agent is usually a long and arduous process full of rejection (I was rejected 70 times before landing an agent) but I guess that’s the way the cookie sometimes crumbles. And my, what stinking crumble it was.
Pro: Not long after being dropped, I was fortunate enough to find a wonderful new agent in Caro Clarke at Portobello Literary. Caro has really championed my writing, is really supportive and offers great feedback. They also did a lot of hard work to get my book into editors’ hands. Good things happened, but as of this moment I’m still waiting to sign on dotted lines, so I shouldn’t say too much (but come on, you can put 2 and 3 together, you maths whizzes).
Con: I wrote no poems this year. I think the poetry well has been dry because of the pandemic (it’s too big, I have to write poems about small things… or weird things in outer space). I hope it will return some day! I did, however, write a novel this year, but it was a real struggle (more than any other I’ve written, in some respects). I felt it wasn’t coming together well enough, and maybe it’d be for the scrap heap. That happens now and again, but with all the time invested in a novel it’s a bummer. However…
Pro: Many edits later and it’s much improved. My agent, Caro, seemed to really like it so there’s hope for the poor thing yet! It’s easy to get downhearted by early drafts, but (as I like to tell mature students) editing is like sculpting a pile of crap into a statuette (made, potentially, of crap).
Con: It’s been a slow year publication-wise, as I published no books. Compared with publishing my epic fantasy trilogy over one year in 2020/21, it was a bit daunting not to know when the next advance might be coming my way. The whole traditional publishing industry seemed to move at a glacial rate, and when you’re living on book sales it’s a worry.
Pro: Despite no big publications in 2022, I do have a novella coming out in 2023 and at least another novel due in 2024. My “Beast Realms” series sales have slowed, but I’m still getting welcome chunks of money each quarter.
AWARDS, JOBS ETC
Con: I applied for quite a few things this year, including three or four jobs. I got one of the jobs (see below). That’s not a total loss though, as working a regular job would detract from my writing time, and mostly I love writing each day. I also missed out on a residency in South Korea, and a few other little residencies. But I’m too long in the tooth now to get overly bothered by failure. Welcome to writing!
Pro: I was lucky enough to get funding from Creative Scotland to help me edit a novel I’m currently working on. The money was hugely useful and allowed me the time to work on things. I also became a writer in residence at a primary school in Stirling, where I’ll be looking at “improving the future” with the kids next year. After losing a lot of work during the pandemic, it’s nice to be somewhat in demand again.
SHORELINE OF INFINITY
Con: Mark Toner and Noel Chidwick (the two founders of the magazine, who I’ve worked with since issue 1) have stepped back from the magazine and almost everything that involves. They’ll be very missed in the Shoreline engine.
Pro: But we also have new team members who are wonderful and will bring a lot of new, different energy to Shoreline of Infinity. We also gained Creative Scotland funding for our magazine and events, which is fantastic as it means we can pay everybody for their work and contributions! Here’s hoping we are equally as successful next year. We’ve put on 4 or 5 great events, and published 4 magazines this year. No small feat.
Con: I won’t lie, this has been a hard year. I spent the latter half of it feeling very anxious, primarily because I learned to drive and had a right old mare of a time with my instructor. I think the pandemic also affected me more than I realised, and found that even some simple things (which I wouldn’t blink at in the past) became difficult. It’s been one of the hardest years of my life to date, but there’s been lots to like as well…
Pros: I went to Greece and (finally, after cancelling multiple times since 2019) Florida. Okay, we were hit by a major hurricane, but it was still a lot of fun. I passed my driving test and (whilst I still don’t like driving) am now taking Pass Plus lessons to build my confidence. I also feel I reconnected with my dad a bit more, as he was great during the driving kafuffle – he came to Edinburgh and took me around in my car, so I could re-take my test (after my nightmare instructor abandoned me), as well as taking my dogs into his home when we went to Florida (and our dog sitter cancelled just a few weeks before we flew out). I managed to see my sister, her wife and kids too, which is a rare treat. I’ve also seen more of my friends in Edinburgh, which is really important to me – I’ve missed them, and hope they stick around!
THAT’S ABOUT IT
Yep, I think that’s about it. As you can probably see, it’s not been an entirely jolly time, but maybe the bad bits help us to appreciate the good bits. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and all that, right? I feel like I should be Superman by new year.
I hope you’re all doing well out there in Internet Land. Peace, all!