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Sunday, 25 January 2015

Update and Review of 2014 and aims for 2015

Being the 25th January it is appropriate to quote Robbie Burns – ‘The best laid plans of mice and men’  as amended by later authors.

In my case the last thing I expected in my planning for 2014 was to be seriously unwell from the end of November 2014. Nothing like this will happen to me I had assumed … oh dear. Well maybe this is an overstatement as the illness has not been the problem only the various side effects of seven pills to be taken per day afterwards. After taking no pills and poisons on a long term basis in my previous three score and ten years this has come as a shock to me and my systems. These gave me problems of being a zombie for far too much of my life during the last two months in not having either energy, inclination or clear mindedness to write much or live a life as before. All the red wine bottles also await a restart!

Hopefully I am now climbing out of the pit.

The highlights of 2014 were

  • Completion of a million draft words in January 2014 averaging 759 words a day since 1st June 2010. The major disappointment is how little physical space a million words takes up. Apparently William Shakespeare wrote just short of a million words. The million word target proved a very good method of writing and also a major distraction to being hung up on publishing. I commend having a stiff target to new writers after they make a start - my first rule of writing

  • After starting down a path of editing and converting my draft words into 18,000 word novellas at a rate of one per week I found this lacked the same spontaneity as clean sheet creative writing. Editing and restructuring and also filling in gaps for later is proving a painful process. The weekly target has not been achieved.

  • Being able to make a regular monthly post on Mick Rooney’s TIPM web site.

  • Finding editing software – the original version of Autocrit being great to use. Unfortunately, this version has now been discontinued and I am looking for others to use.

  • Continued contact with fellow writing travellers - Tony Riches, Mary Tod and Calvin Hedley. Reading draft copies of Warwick and The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham by Tony and Turning Point by Calvin and making comments were a special bonus. Tony has sold very well with his e book versions.

  • Attending the Matador Self Publishing Conference and CPI Printers Experience Day were very interesting and also following these up with TIPM reports.  I followed the latter up with the visit to a local modern Litho press owned by a friend.

  • A major step forward was a decision to proceed from the spring of 2014 under the overall aim of Writing and Reading for Pleasure which has taken all pressure of publishing more off my back. This is not to say I will never publish anything more.

  • An unpublished letter about HS2 being selected by the Daily Telegraph for their 2014 book selection which meant I have at least been published by independent selection of my writing, however small, and have published something in 2014.

  • 123 reviews were posted on Amazon of books read in 2014, and books read in previous years found while browsing my own bookshelves. Read many books both fiction and non fiction about the WW2 conflict with Japan. The Prisoner List the stand out non fiction book. On Fiction Life after Life by Kate Atkinson and The Silkworm by aka J K Rowling proved great reads. On semi fiction based on their strong technical backgrounds Regeneration by Pat Barker and The Children Act by Ian McEwan.

Plans for 2015

My life has changed and I will have to accept this. Whether I can return to something near the energy and mind clarity levels pre November 2014 remains to be seen. At least unlike my father who was dead within three months of a similar diagnosis I have been saved by modern technology. My writing aims for 2015 are as follows.

  • Keep improving the quality of what I write. I have realised that writing like learning to sail takes a long time and learning is endless.

  • l will carry on printing off and amending draft novella versions of the 60 odd books making up the million words and additional new creative words written post January 2014.

  • I will try and publish something in 2015

  • I hope I can continue posting on TIPM each month under the Writing and Reading for Pleasure banner.

  • Putting all my hard copies, paper cuttings and electronic files in some better order looks an overwhelming task but one which is necessary

May I wish all writers and readers a successful and productive year.

Douglas and Alexander and the other fantasy Allrighters