2013: The year of three novels.

2013 was a remarkable year. The year I wrote three novels.

Let me state that again, for my own sake as much as yours.

I. Wrote. Three. Novels.

This is on top of a full-time Day Job and more than a dozen minor life events that took up weeks, weekends, time and emotional space I could have been writing. I should also give thanks to my partner for the times I’ve been lost in a book, either reading or writing or research.

Three novels.

Sure, I have to finish two of them. The plots are in place and I’m at the stage where I sift layers of colour and texture over them like a Buddhist sand painting, pulling scenery out of the darkness. I’ve made a start on one and have until the end of January to finish. Then the next, by the end of Feb. (First readers, you have been warned…)

The other surprise about my Year Of Three Novels is that my ability to write – 212,000 words, not including blog posts or emails or other writing not connected with novels or short stories – was focused by planning ahead. I have a five-year plan which shows me what my next writing projects are, well in advance, so I don’t have to worry about running out of ideas.

My aim for 2014 is to keep up the pace. On my plan 2014 has two novels scheduled to be written.

However, writing three – or two – novels in a year only adds to my Body Of Work on one condition: they must be published.

And that’s the first writing challenge I face in 2014.

Published in: on January 8, 2014 at 12:00 am  Comments (2)  
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2014: New Year Resolution Plea

Can I make a small plea for the New Year?

In amongst all the resolutions about keeping fit, going to the gym, eating healthily, stopping smoking, giving up drink and generally confusing the blazes out of yourself, I’d like you to consider one small extra thing which doesn’t involve giving something up:


It might be the smatterings of a new language.

I have enough skill in Spanish to understand light-hearted blogs and glossy magazines, but not in great detail, and I can’t say more than “Hablo Ingles, lo siento, y muy poquito Espanyol” in real life. I can work on that, so the next time I go into an authentic tapas bar I understand the staff as well as the menu, and not because they speak excellent English.

Could be a new skill.

Knitting, for example. You might have got the world’s longest Dr Who scarf if, like me, you learned one basic knitting stitch and how to turn corners but never stuck with it until you got to the bit about finishing it off and removing the knitting needles. I’m unlikely to learn more knitting unless I’m stuck alone on a desert island with no clothes and then, who cares? I’d be building a raft, people, not knitting a flippin’ scarf.

Maybe a new sport or dance move?

I can do the basic pas-de-bas of Highland dancing but didn’t progress further than the chalk-mark of swords on the floor and holding my fingers aloft in the proper configuration. My fingers held aloft these days tend to be in a less contrite arrangement, especially when referring to dance. Yoga, zumba, pogo, on the other hand…?

Perhaps something useful, social, you may not need much, like basic First Aid.

I know how to… actually, I don’t. If you’re in need of help like the St John’s Ambulance give out, best go to them, not me. I’m good for ice on scalds (remember to drink the G&T first) and minor cuts requiring Elastoplast. Beyond that I have to reach for the experts. Probably best all round, really.

A new cuisine?

Discover Filipino vegan recipes, Brazilian cocktails, Bantu brownies, Indian desserts, Australian biscuits, Caribbean bread, Lancashire hotpot. Learn to cook pasta, from scratch, with your hands around an egg and a heap of flour on the kitchen table like my Italian landlady used to. Experiment with making tasty food at minimum cost, using recipes from AGirlCalledJack. Learn how to use your pressure cooker (at last).

Whatever you choose, please, consider learning something new in 2014.

Add to your skillset.

Make your place in the world a little more interesting, for you and for others. Keep learning alive. And see how it makes a difference in twelve months’ time.

P.S. You also get to say you tried it and it didn’t work, like me reading War & Peace. Got about 70 pages in, realised Tolstoy hated women and threw the book away. If I ever have the time to read something the length of War & Peace, or 2666, I’ll start on something enjoyable instead (like the entire works of China Mieville).

Published in: on January 1, 2014 at 1:30 am  Comments Off on 2014: New Year Resolution Plea  
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