2020 – A Retrospective

Holy shit, what a year. But then, I don’t need to tell you that. You’ve lived through it too.

Bizarrely, this year has been my most creative to date. I’ve read a lot about people being distracted by the pandemic and not being able to read or write as much. To be honest, that hasn’t been the way for me.

I appreciate that not everybody is in the position I’m in, where my job switched online almost seamlessly and I am still getting paid etc. This year has truly been the one in which I learned to appreciate my day job. I’m fortunate and believe me, I’m grateful.

But in this, the weirdest, scariest year on record, I have to say that my writing has flourished. In a world where I haven’t hugged my own mother for nine months, you have to cling to the crumbs of comfort where you can.

This year I’ve clocked up over 250,000 words of fiction. That includes the edits and changes to my first football novel Nobody Wins, all the work on Lionhearts, the abandoned 40k words of Static, the first draft of my second football novel Rangers, a number of short stories and a complete rewrite of my snowbound horror novella Territory.

A quarter of a million words. It seems scarcely believable that I’ve managed such a milestone. I remember attempting NaNoWriMo in 2012 and balking at managing over 1,500 words a day. Now, I’d barely blink at that total.

I guess the question to ask is, what’s changed?

To answer this honestly, I’d say my daughter being born inspired a big change. It felt like some sort of penny dropped. Not only was there decreased free time, which put pressure on me to do things promptly but I want to make her proud and to show her that she too can follow her dreams in the way that I’m trying to follow mine.

I’ve adopted a professional mindset. Sure, my writing earns me nothing right now, but I’m here every day, getting the words down and making things happen. It might be slow going but my muse is tamed now. I can channel it when I need to and make the words flow.

I’ve been reading Steven Pressfield’s incredible book The War of Art lately and have been so inspired and enthralled by his writing about amateurs and professionals. Perhaps some of that inspiration has come from the fact that without realising it, I’ve already adopted most of the professional perspectives and tricks that Pressfield mentions. There’s something validating in reading about habits you’ve already adopted.

That said, creating the words is only half of the battle. Getting them out there is the issue. Of all the words I’ve produced this year, less than 1% have been published. It’s a dispiriting fact but one that comes with hope. I’ve shopped novels for the first time this year, that in itself is a learning process.

Writing a good book isn’t enough, you have to draft the submissions package that will hook an agent or a publisher. That’s a separate skill. One I’m still learning. It’ll come. The ideas are there for more novels. I’ll make them work. It’s just getting a foot in the door.

There’s more news to come regarding upcoming books from me, as I’ve hinted in the previous post on this site. Nothing that I’ve written will be consigned to the desk drawer, gathering dust and mold. There are plans afoot for the books I’ve written this year. 2021 will be exciting.

2020 has been dismal for most of us, myself included. We’ve all suffered in one way or another. I hope by posting this achievement, it can help people to see that despite the darkness, we are all capable of creating our own light.

Have a brilliant Christmas break. Stay safe. Enjoy the rest as best you.

See you in 2021. Let’s hope for even better.