It’s that time of year again where it is customary to have a look back. For me today is a good time as I’m at home in our study with the rain hammering down, a roaring fire, Glenn Gould playing Bach’s Concerto in D minor on Spotify, and a mug of tea on my desk. The mug looks like this:
(that was taken when I was in the Czech Republic. I bought it in the monastery shop in Ampleforth.)
Today some years ago I had once of those chance meetings in a pub on a cold, rainy evening that completely redirected and reshaped my life. It led to a very happy time of unconditional acceptance and joy after a youth that had seemed like a long and painful apprenticeship to nowhere. It also marked the start of being pushed as a writer not to shy away from certain subjects because some might purse their petty little lips and declare them tasteless. I grew to despise such words, such concepts, and the country and culture from which they originated: my own. I was delighted to read that shared horror in works by Mary Morrissy, Niamh Boyce and Arlene Hunt, among others, who track that territory of repression and emotional violence peculiar to this island with deadly accuracy.
But that was then – what of now, the last embers of 2013?
It’s been probably the most eventful and important year of my life. In January I learned that my novel, still in draft stage, about a pair of lovers threatened by the stigma of the white feather during World War I, had made it to the Novel Fair run by the Irish Writers’ Centre; once I attended the fair, things started moving quite quickly. Later in February I’d a publisher on the phone, in March I’d an agent, in May I finally subbed the last of it, and in August I learned I was going to receive an offer. Finally, when we were on holiday in Paris, the publishing deal was signed. In the meantime, I opened a short story competition and solicited stories on mental health, stigma and power. I am reading the subs now: work delayed me from getting to them any sooner. I have also started a new novel – it concerns the legacy of the first war and the threat of the second. I’m not sure if I dare say the slightest bit more about it, but I am 44K words into the first draft and it’s going well, IMO.
Personally, it was also a happy time. New family members were welcomed, new friendships forged and existing ones, I hope, reinforced. It feels that many blessings are now being conferred. I’ve been lucky to have had steady support close by in all my efforts and unwavering belief in me that I could finish the first novel and do it justice. I always want to treasure that and never take it for granted.
So, everything was good, but not restful. And I don’t think 2014 is going to be a snooze in a hammock either. But hopefully it will be fun 🙂
Happy Christmas to all readers of this blog!