Again, I look at my blog for this year and see I have been quiet since May. There have been three reasons.
- One, Brexit made me speechless. I made several attempts to write something here after the referendum result. All have remained in draft form. To be honest, I am still so upset about this act of wanton vandalism (and the vicious right-wing agenda it has unleashed) that I feel genuine anger at people I know who voted Leave. Which is half my country, apparently. Although only about 10 per cent of my friends and my readers, I suspect. There is still much ‘inner work’ to do before I can feel the peace on this issue which I would prefer.
- Two, out of financial necessity I went full-time at Goldsmiths in September. This is probably only temporary, but it has pushed all my writing and other activities to the margins, leaving no time for the extras: this blog, and my two Shakespeare-related projects. My life was fractured into too many strands, trying to drum up the means to pay my bills. So if you wonder where the ‘Help for Writers’ pages has gone, this is the answer. I had to streamline my life and get rid of things that were taking up a lot of time but bringing in minimal income. A full-time job, plus writing novel number three, plus the few freelance opportunities I couldn’t bear to turn down leaves little room for anything but family.
- Three, I have been writing private updates on the progress of the third novel for my Patreon patrons. Given what I am giving them (which they get in return for so kindly supporting me) there is not much left for sharing here. If you want the inside story on the next novel, you can always join them: it’s only a dollar or a pound a month (no thanks to Brexit, they are now practically the same thing). In return you get not only monthly updates but my deep and genuine gratitude.
On personal and professional terms, 2016 was a good year. The Marlowe Papers play had short runs in Brighton in January and May, getting 4- and 5- star reviews, and being nominated for a Broadway Baby ‘Bobby’ award. Following a blog post here that went semi-viral, I wrote for The Guardian for the first time, inadvertently stirring up a hornet’s nest… the ‘inadvertent’ only showing how unaware I can sometimes be. I worked for the British Council for the first time, and was keynote speaker at a conference for the first time at Yasar University, Izmir, Turkey, where I met some lovely people. I also did a talk on Shakespeare for them at the London Book Fair. I read ‘Material’ to 900 ‘A’ level students and their teachers in London (and got to hang out with some excellent poet friends in the green room). I was invited to deliver a paper on the final panel of the Worlds Literary Symposium in Norwich, which was great fun. I got a good chunk of novel three written (novel six if you count the unpublished ones! I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time and wrote more in the month of November than I usually write in a year. I also dropped a significant amount of the weight I have accumulated in recent years from sitting on my arse writing books, through swimming 3 miles a week (100 miles since May) and doing 16:8 intermittent fasting. I bought two new power tools (including a circular saw) and at the end of the year, I made my daughter a set of Tardis doors.
What is on the horizon? The novel will be completed in the first half of the year, all being well. I’m currently working on an exciting Marlowe-related audio project. I have a chapter of a Shakespeare book and a Marlowe-related paper to complete. And despite all that arse-sitting, I’ll drop more weight and get back to a ‘normal’ BMI.
What I’d like in 2017? Personally: more peace, more security, more balance. For the world: the same, but I suspect there’s little I can do to prevent what looks like a full-on breakdown. Still, everything good in my life came from rebuilding after I had one of those. So I tell myself something good will come at the end of this, after all the hatred, misery and bloodshed. Let’s hope so.