What a month January has been. For me, it still feels like the New Year hasn’t really begun yet. Rather, the old one is still being wrapped up. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking that the beginning of a new year should be good and full of optimism but so far 2016 hasn’t been without its tribulations. Not least of all the plethora of high profile deaths of some of our hugely talented and creative artists, from the always pushing the boundaries Bowie to the safe and comforting Terry Wogan. Maybe now with January drawing to a close the New Year can finally kick in, hopefully bringing a positive and progressive 2016.
Writing wise I’ve been on a bit of a marathon, or rather a relay, where I’ve had bursts of writing followed by brief reposes. It’s definitely been a month of deadlines, which are good to have but can also be draining. There’s certainly a talent in being able to choose which deadlines should be given priority and which need to forgotten about. That said, I’ve met the ones I set out to meet, so it’s not all bad. I submitted a short play, Undetectable, to The McConnell New Writing Fund for playwrights but unfortunately I wasn’t shortlisted. The good thing is I now have a short piece that I can develop further or add to something else to create a larger project. I’ve a few more pieces to follow up on too, with my site specific piece Two Views, A Mirror looking like it will be a runner for a festival over the summer this year. Several wintry meetings have also proved to be of use, at the very least for meeting interesting people, and who knows what may come of them.
I’ve been busy editing and redrafting my novel Bitten By A Dog On Tuesday which is proving to be an experience in itself. I’ve had moments when I feel like throwing the damn thing in the fire but so far I’m persevering. Time is of the essence when it comes to writing and other writing tasks, such as editing and research. In order to buy myself some time to fully concentrate on writing I’ve applied for an Arts Council Bursary, which would be absolutely amazing if it’s approved. The amount I’ve applied for is minimal but it would mean I could take 6 weeks leave from my day job during which I’d get a full second draft of BBADOT completed. Fingers crossed. Similarly, I’ve submitted to the inaugural year of the Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers’ Award. The odds are stacked against me but if you’re not in you can’t win, so I might as well give it a try. The £10K prize would also allow me to take some much needed time away from external distractions (i.e. day job!) and get to work on my writing for a few solid weeks. As I write today I feel that this is perhaps why I’ve been a bit humdrum about writing over the last month; many of the deadlines have been monetarily driven, rather than solely for the art. Arguably, it’s all for the art, as the money would buy me time to dedicate more to writing, but it just feels different to writing for the love of it and not worrying about biographies and background information and application forms. I’m obviously still submitting to lots of smaller competitions too, with publication being my main aim.
I did manage to squeeze in an end of month break, which I needed in order to take the edge off January. I ended up in Glasgow (great little city) and found myself drawn to the Necropolis. I have a thing for old graveyards and cemeteries but thankfully I’m not alone (see this interesting post on Finding Time To Write). I’m lucky that I live close to Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin, an absolutely stunning place for a quiet stroll. I love the old tomb stones and crypts, each name and date holding endless possibilities and ideas for new stories and characters. The necropolis in Glasgow is incredibly impressive and the cold January wind added a certain forlornness to the place. In a month that seemed peppered with death it seemed odd that on the hilly graveyard I felt most content, yet given the peace and solitude of the place it can hardly be surprising. Here’s hoping the rest of 2016 isn’t as harsh as January has been. Poor January, the calendrical scapegoat.