I disappeared into a little hole for a few quiet months to force myself to knuckle down on the novel and fight my way out of the woods-I-couldn't-see-for-the-trees. And two weeks ago, with a final great sigh as I broke out of the forest, I wrote these two words on the last page of the 351 page document:
Of course the thing is far from finished. I've got hours of tinkering, tweaking, adjusting, editing, and agonising in me yet but, for now, I can confidently say that it is a 113,000 word story that has a beginning, a middle and an end, and tells a full story without break or interuption, and (i hope) makes sense. I'm sure there are countless problems with it but, for now, I can kick away and leave it be for a while. I've given it to some trusted and ruthless eyes and I'm not going to touch it until at least December. It's an odd feeling. Liberating, certainly, but also quite unnerving. Like gently laying down a live landmine and pretending it isn't there every time I o'erleap it, breath held.
But it is freedom. The thing had been bogging me down and holding me back for too long. The dam has now broken and new material can come gushing forth. And gushing it is - I've already started on a bunch of short stories that had been waiting, irritated, in the wings. I've made me a new website (have a good look around) and I've got some new projects in the pipeline which are very exciting indeed.
Curiously, the day after I wrote THE END on this novel I created a new folder on my computer called 'novel ideas' and sketched out a staggering four new ideas for novels. Four. I thought I barely had one in me, never mind any more. Perhaps they are a sort of mental insurance in case this one never gets off the ground. Perhaps this one has been my practice run and one of these ideas will be the real debut. Perhaps I'll never get anywhere with any of them. Who knows? All I got to do is keep on writing.
In a rather thrilling moment, I did send off the first three chapters of this novel to an agent after taking part in the Conville & Walsh/Curtis Brown #PitchCB event on Twitter last month. While the response was a rejection, it was a heartening one with lots of compliments. Apparently it was one of the 'strongest submissions' they'd received for a while. I'll take that, I certainly will. Onwards and upwards.
So what else is on the horizon? Most thrilling of all is a brand new spoken word night that I've helped to create and will be hosting. Its called Speak Easy and it will take place in Stretford's trendiest and most hidden bar: The Sip Club. The first one is a-happening this damned Thursday and everyone is very welcome. I expect I'll write up a report on here next weekend before we look forward to the next two events on 8th October and the 12th November. The event is also featured on the Short Stops blog.
As for publications, I had a tiny story called 'Scientists' published on Spelk Fiction back in May and, more recently, my animal story 'Broadcast of the Foxes' was broadcasted on the Tapes and Tales podcast with delightful musical accompaniment. I was very happy to see my animal story 'The Cat's Eye' printed in the Boo Books anthology We Can Improve You, a SF anthology exploring the theme of augmentation. I've also been playing around with Comma Press' wonderful new self-publishing audio stories app MacGuffin. The app allows you to upload your stories, along with audio recordings, for people to read or listen to on the go. I've already put two of my pieces on there where they are slowly gathering anonymous star ratings. Its a very easy app to use and well worth a go.
Happily. later in the year my rabbit story 'Hutched' will be getting a reprint in the lovely looking Foxhole Magazine, and in October I will be making my live London debut at the genre-fiction showcase event by Unsung Stories. More details coming soon.
So, as the season turns from this half-hearted and muggy summer into the allure of melancholic autumn and manic winter, old things end and new things come to life. The only constant are the words: keep on writing.