March is here, the daffodils have poked their heads out in my garden, winter is tailing off into spring and the anniversary of the death of Caesar looms soon upon us. It is at this time of year, because some forty-nine years ago as the swinging sixties gave way to the soon to be disgruntled seventies that I was born on the ide’s of March, I find myself taking stock of the last year or so. It’s a good time to do so, not least because I will soon be a year older, and it is a wise thing to take stock at such times.
The last year has been a somewhat hectic affair, at least in regards to my writing. This time last year I was still struggling away with a manuscript that was to become the basis for two novels. My enthusiasm for this blog was taking a bit of a dip, as the day job was in the middle of a rather busy period and I had less time for random witterings. That dip in enthusiasm was reflected in the visitor figures here February and March last year as well, which were down quite a bit on previous years. Added to this my second novel Passing Place had been in print for over eighteen months and while it was held in high regard by those that read it, I would be lying if I was to claim it had been as successful as I had originally hoped.
I was, in all honesty, starting to get a little disheartened with writing, as many writers do from time to time. Things did not pick up until mid-March when I found the spark that had been missing. A spark which came from the first of two big idea’s which took me out of my slump and stupour and got be back behind the keyboard again.
That first spark was the realisation I had a much bigger manuscript on my hands that I had planned with the novel that at the time had the ponderous title ‘The Wells of Time’. I realised I needed to shorten it somewhat and also realised that one second of it while a fun little story in its own right, had no real reason for been there, in that it added nothing much to the greater tale. So I took it out and decided to build a novella around it, by making it a tale told in Esqwiths Passing Place, and writing a couple of short Passing place chapters to go either side of it. As ever, this simple plan grew in the making and became a mini-anthology, with the novella joined by three short stories, and becoming a little novelette, which I published in June last year, ‘A Scar of Avarice‘ which has done quite well all things considered.
The next spark of inspiration was that ‘The Wells of Time’, ponderous pun of a title aside was still too long to be a single novel, As after ‘Scar’ was taken out the manuscript still grew as I wrote what will be the final chapters of what will become in time the second Hannibal Smyth novel. So I decided the best thing to do was to split the novel in two. Which led to ‘A Spider in the Eye‘ been published in January this year as the first of a series of novels featuring my steampunk anti-hero Hannibal Smyth, while I am currently working on the last couple of chapters of the second of these novels which will hopefully be out sometime this summer.
There were other cool things over the last year. For one, I got asked to write an introduction to the collected edition of the Thieves Guild novels by C G Hatton, which I considered to be a bit of a honour all things considered. For another, I have a short story (more Hannibal stuff) being included in an anthology due out next month. This blog, after the slump of the first quarter last year has gone from strength to strength, with more people reading, liking and commenting than ever before. I’ve also had so much more support and positive feedback than I’d had previously. Along with this my twitter following, my Facebook following and just people taking an interest, in general, has improved all around. Other odd stats have started springing up, I got a mail from Amazon yesterday telling me that views of reviews I have written for other people have gone past the 5000 mark. Which is oddly gratifying as I only post Amazon reviews for indie authors whose novels I really enjoy. So it good to know they don’t just become words out there in the void, and that other writers are hopefully seeing the benefit of those reviews…
So, taking stock of the last year, as a writer it has been far more successful than the one before and I am in a far happier place as an author than I found myself in early March 2018. There is a long way to go, a lot of work to do, and many a new reader to find. But as a stocktake goes, this has been a happy one.
It also, hopefully, will serve to give a little inspiration to any fellow writer reading this who is feeling a little down on their writing, a few short months can make a world of difference, so don’t let the odd set back make you throw in the towel.
adios for now