Just over three years ago, in the before times, the pre-plague years, my family and I packed up our home in Whitby (aka the most wonderful place on Earth, the place where all my dreams reside, my happy place, the good place, the okay-occasionally-its-so-cold-your-testicles-shrivel place) and moved to the other end of the country. The cotswolds, to be precise. Another lovely place to live, to be sure, but not exactly the wilds of the North. It’s very quiet here, and there’s not a single Dracula museum in sight.
We moved for a job. My job. As well as being a writer and publisher, I work a day job, because the writing and publishing side of the equation doesn’t really pay, well, anything. The job that had me in the north had gone, taken on a sea of promises to Switzerland, of all places, and it turned out I wasn’t going with it. I had to find a new one. And find one I did, because that’s the kind of upstanding citizen I am. It was decent, too. Massive company, acres of history, and working in a new industry I’d not been in before. I was quite excited.
So, I was about to be taught a lesson, and that lesson was ‘don’t get excited, doofus.’
Five months into the job, the new company announced they were closing. Shutting up their shop here in the UK, and taking their ball with them. Bit of a shock. Then came the slow death. Two and a half years of being in the weird place where you know the job is ending, but it’s still trundling along. It should have come to an final ignominious end in July, when the last car rolled off the production line, and I said goodbye to the vast majority of the people I’d been working with over that time.
Except, they asked me to stick around for another year, to help close things out and generally make a nuisance of myself. So I went from working for a company of several thousand people that makes cars, to a company of a couple of hundred that makes… well, nothing. It’s been that way now for about five months, and while the work’s still pretty busy, working from home and not commuting any further than the bottom of my stairs has given me more time to focus on my writing.
I’m good at my job. I don’t hate it, by any stretch, but I also don’t think it’s what I’m here to do, either. I feel like I am here to be a writer. Or, more precisely, to be a creative. So, since my contract comes to an end at the end of July, I figure I’ve got seven months to make a go of this. Somehow.
Now, I’m not an idiot. I’m a long way from being able to make my living as a writer, and the chances are that the bridge is too far to leap in that amount of time. I will PROBABLY have to get another job in August. But if I can take the first half of this year and make as much of it as I possibly can, then… I dunno. But it’s good to dream. It’s better to stretch for something and get halfway there than not go anywhere at all. I’d rather get to a new Job in August and think ’well, shit, I did my best’ than ‘I wish I’d tried.’
So with that in mind, my goals for this year are A LOT. Let’s dive in!
I’ve been working really hard these last few months preparing a load of projects that will be launching in the next few months. Starting with:
More Sunset Chronicles. Season 3 is already written and edited, so that takes us all the way to July, and I’m already hard at work on season 4. There are nine seasons planned out in total. No matter what, that’s going to be seen through to the end, if it’s the last thing I do.
Even more Sunset Chronicles. At some point this year, I’ll also be releasing an exclusive prequel novel called Walker. I’m currently planning on releasing that as an EXCLUSIVE novel only for people who’ve signed up for my reader’s group, so if you’ve not yet done that you can stick your email in the sidebar or at the bottom of this post, and I’ll even send you an ebook with seven short stories while you wait.
A brand new podcast. As part of my diploma in creative writing, I’ve been working on an entirely new project, a podcast that will feature short stories by myself and a number of other authors, all individual stories set in a fictional British town. It’s called Bleakwood, and production is well underway on it. I’m really excited about this one, and I’m hoping to launch it in March this year.
Another new podcast! Following on from that, I’ve been working with a good friend, the ludicrously talented Kev Harrison, on a second podcast about creativity in the modern world. We’ll be interviewing creatives of every flavour about what it means to be a creative in the digital world, how life is changing for creatives, and the opportunities that make this the greatest time in history to be a creative. It’s called All Creatives Now, and it’ll be launching in the first half of the year. And hey, look, both the podcasts have art!
Audiobooks. Yep, I’m going all in on audio. I’ll be aiming to have the whole Blood on the Motorway trilogy released on audiobook in the next twelve months, and at least the first season of The Sunset Chronicles.
Print expansion. As things stand you can only get the Blood trilogy through Amazon Print on Demand, and the quality of those books can be a bit hit-and miss. I’ve not done paperbacks for the Sunset Chronicles yet. But along with the audiobook releases for the Blood trilogy I’ll be launching new paperback and hardback editions that will be available from any bookshop in the world, and from your local library for free. Then I’ll be launching some pretty cool looking pulp print versions of the Sunset Chronicles episodes that I’m hoping to be able to launch for about the price of a bottle of wine. I’d also like to look into doing some extra-special hardcover versions of the full seasons at some point, too.
Wow. That sounds a fair lot of stuff when you write it down like that.
This year, I’m going to get a diploma in creative writing from Oxford University. Now, that would be a lofty and some might say impossible goal, were it not for the fact that I’m already in the final year of said diploma, having somehow been allowed back in after the first year. Things are going pretty well, and I need to close out this year as strong as possible to see what kind of mark I can get. I may well be looking at doing a Masters after that, though these things are not cheap.
Not only that, but I think this might be the first year in which I try and get an agent. I’ve not previously bothered, since I was only really interested in publishing indie, but I have a new first-in-series book that I think has pretty broad appeal, so it might be time to try and dip my toes in the murky waters of trad publishing.
Over the last six months I’ve been getting very into how to improve my productivity. I’ve started tracking habits, and I built what amounts to a second brain in Notion, which saves the meat version of me from having to remember to do stuff. I just need to hook it up to some kind of cattle prod that actually gets me to do the things. But as we enter into 2022 it’s time for me to put everything together, from new writing practices to habit tracking and Notion project planning to be able to get the absolute most out of the year.
Mr Healthy Bastard
It wouldn’t be a yearly goals blog post over here at Hollow Stone Towers without me setting some kind of health goal, but this year is slightly different, in that I already lost two stone last year, so it’s more a case of carrying on. But as well as losing enough weight that I look vaguely like something other than a haphazardly thrown ball of dough, I want to focus on being healthy in other ways. I’ve been meditating, or trying to, and the habit tracking mentioned above will help. I want a healthy mind, and a healthy body.
No more Mr Imposter
Being on my course has really helped my confidence as a writer. I’ve gotten some really helpful feedback, some great positivity, and it’s really helped me grow as a writer. And recording the audiobooks for the Blood trilogy has reminded me of how proud I am of those books, and of everything that I’ve put out into the world. Weirdly, I don’t feel bashful about calling myself a writer.
But over the last few years, I’ve developed a pretty nasty case of imposter syndrome when it comes to being on social media. Not just about promoting my work, but just about being part of the conversation, in general. Almost every day I open up Twitter, or Facebook, or a blog post, and I write something, then delete it without posting. I compose replies to my peers, then delete them. Because who wants to know what I’ve got to say about anything, right?
But being a creative these days means you need to be online. I feel like someone whose nose is pressed against the window of a wider reading community, waiting to be invited in. But I need to invite myself in. So this year I intend to be a lot more present. I’ll try not to be obnoxious about it.
That’s about it. Not much to be working on, then? If you’ve read this far, well done, and my apologies. There’s no super-secret codex at the bottom that will grant you wishes, but I do offer you my thanks.