As my last post of 2013, tradition suggests that it should perhaps be both a reflective one and one which looks ahead to the year pending – 2014. I did, however, do most of my reflections of 2013 in a previous post, so am instead going to consider what I hope to achieve throughout the next year.
A writer friend who wished me a Merry Christmas, suggested it would be a case of ‘New Year, New Book’, which I do like the sound of. However, knowing the time restraints imposed by my meandering career this year, the likelihood of writing that book is, well, not great. But, I have decided to be realistic rather than over-ambitious in my writing goals for the year to come (and just be satisfied for the moment that I have already written a fairly lengthy book and so have at least proved I can write one to the end).
Perhaps, at the beginning, journalism will have to take the lead, as it is, after all, what pays the bills, but there will always be a place for creative writing – just not necessarily a novel-length piece of work. That being said, as the year goes in, who knows what may rear its head, so it won’t be ruled out completely… (It is only healthy, I’m sure, to keep my ‘ideas’ book up to date!)
There is little point though in spreading oneself too thinly – as I am wont to do – so, instead of trying to write another novel, poetry and short stories, as well as sub-edit and do freelance journalism, it will be subbing, journalism, the odd bit of poetry and maybe a short story or two. Oh, and as much reading as I can cram in! I had thought a few weeks ago that reading had swamped all my writing energy but, if I’m honest, even reading has been swamped in recent times by freelancing and simply – working. Writers, I believe, need to have an equal-ish balance of reading and writing and so, this year, I intend to immerse myself in great writing – of poets and novelists – and recapture the inspiration which towards the end of the year, has somehow ebbed away. The John Hewitt International Summer School, On Home Ground Poetry Festival and similar literary events help greatly with keeping writing ambition buoyant and fully fed, and will hopefully be part of my 2014 as well, but you need to have an internal drive to want to write and if you’re not reading and not actually making the time to put pen to paper, then that drive can easily abandon you.
Not usually one to read biographies or the like, I am currently reading John McGahern’s memoir, which I actually received a few Christmases ago and for whatever reason, set aside. (I do this with books a lot – create a little library of titles, so I always have something waiting to be read, except sometimes… books get forgotten or overlooked.) Anyway, it is an interesting account so far of his early life in rural Ireland and will soon be detailing how he got into literature and his subsequent growth into a highly commended writer. Considering that he is all set for the priesthood at the minute, I’m intrigued to see how his story pans out.
I also have a biography of another late author – Maeve Binchy – who juggled journalism with writing, and am equally intrigued to find out how her career unfolded as a young woman.
Anyway, as this year peters out and the new one creeps in, it is time, I think, to hit the ‘refresh’ button and welcome in 2014 with renewed vigour and not a feeling of dread at a long, cold January. It’s a state of mind, to be sure – January 1st is, after all, simply the rather ordinary day which follows the equally rather ordinary day before it and is not in any way noticeably different – but, a writer’s imagination is a wonderful thing and so, January 1st can be whatever you want it to be…
And the rest of the year as well.