… I am, for the first time since… oooh… can’t really remember… sitting down and thinking about what to do next.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m gonna write more books next. ‘Cos writing is awesome. And there’ll be more edits on the current book, but hopefully they’ll be far less intense. But I’m also at the end of a contract, and under pressure to write for TV and honestly, the sky is full of vasty possibilities. More Claire North books? Space opera? High fantasy? Historical drama? 6-part TV series full of cool lighting? Dunno. I’ve got an ideas list as long as my arm, but for the first time in a while, I also have the incredible luxuries of a) being in a secure enough position that I can catch my breath and b) kinda being ok writing whatever. Just… whatever takes my fancy next.
I’ve always written whatever the hell I’ve wanted, don’t get me wrong. But I’ve also been careful to find consistenties between the stand-alone Claire North books, or the more obviously serial Kate Griffins/Catherine Webbs. Doing so is both an excellent thing for cultivating a voice, but also means that scene with the giant invading space squid probably needs to get cut. Is it time for a fourth pseudonym? Too soon for Kaitlyn East to step to the plate, or Cassie South to write her first epic tome? No idea.
A bit like acting, which is simultaneously a craft that can elevate the human spirit to new and astounding acts of emotional empathy, AND a lot of numpties prancing around in funny hats, I have no gripes saying that writing is a craft, a hack job, a business, a lot of fun, an utterly absurd career, art (sometimes), profoundly important for our human culture and totally not a cure for cancer. It is all these things. Take any particular part of it too seriously and sure, I’ll put NOT A CURE FOR CANCER in capital letters for you, but at the same time, treat it as just that thing you can do because you had a dream once about a vampire ergo you’re a novellist, and we’re gonna have a conversation.
It’s not just that I’ve got a bit of breathing space with writing, mind. For the first time since I left Ra-de-da in, oooh… 2010?… I don’t have a theatre show opening in a couple of weeks. Sure, I’ve got gigs, but a gig is still a turn-up-at-2p.m.-go-home-at-midnight kinda job, rather than a spend-six-months-staring-at-model-boxes-and-arguing-about-budget thing. Ever since I burnt out at the end of 2017, this has been the quest, and it’s taken over a year to actually clear my plate enough to get to the point in January 2019, where I can look up and say “wow, I’m bored – maybe today I’ll clean the windows”
Regrettably, I have a very low boredom tolerence threshold, so how long this new-founded sense will last is anyone’s guess. But it’s also such an astonishing privilege. Dear God, it’s hard for me to express how grateful I am that I currently have time in the day to actually plan a vaguely healthy meal, or to go for a (brutish, short) jog, or to answer email in anything other than a disaster-control manner. Of course I also have more time to get fantastically worked up and angry about the state of our current politics – have we had a conversation about the vileness of the neo-liberal right-wing governments of our age promoting inequality and using the injustices that they’ve created to destroy the fabric of our society, while simultaneously the glaciers melt? Anyway, all that – but even that, even feeling fantastically angry about politics, is a privilege that I haven’t had much space for recently. Which might also be part of the problem.
Sitting still and being ok with that is also a wee bit unsettling, if I’m honest. Obviously there’s the question of where my next slice of baked beans and toast is coming from, but that’s nothing new to life and again, I am very lucky in that I can afford a few months of sitting on my backside thinking about it. But since day one of secondary school, if we’re honest, my entire life experience has been one of being informed that working hard and being fantastically tired in the pursuit of excellence is the only way to prove you’re a proper human being. Whereas I’m writing this blog post on my third consecutive day off, admittedly after I worked Saturday but whatever, and even saying that freaks me out a bit.
Sooooo yes. The sky is blue, the sun is bright, my internet connection is proving unstable since switching providers and I can’t find spellcheck in the new wordpress format, but if you ignore these minor inconveniences, I think, basically, everything is… awesome? Scary, and exciting, and awesome? And thankfully dear Lord, oh blessed day, a little bit boring too.
That said, there are a few things coming up….
- The Gameshouse is being published in papery form in May 2019! I haven’t seen official announcements yet, which is why I’m being a bit cagey, but it’s listed in enough public places and enough people have told me they know about it in public forums that yes, this is definitely A Thing.
- The novel what I have just finished editing (still untitled) is due for copy editing and proofs, and then should hopefully be released in November 2019 whooo!
- I’m going to be at the York Literary Festival in mid-March talking with the always-excellent M.R.Carey about science fiction and yodelling – if you’re around please come and say hello.
- I’m doing a 5km Swimathon to raise money for Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie – please consider sponsoring me for an excellent cause.