Thursday, 29 November 2012

2012: A Year In Writing

I've said this before, but I am aware that this blog is basically just a list of books I am reading. However, the past twelve months have been simultaneously very productive and also completely financially testing.

As such, all my energies have been directed towards writing two new novels, a radio play and doing freelance journalism. This year I've been writing mainly about music for Mojo, The Guardian, Metal Hammer, Classic Rock and the BBC, aswell as the odd guest blog for various websites, and writing some biographies for a few bands and artists and some festival programmes. I've done interviews with people ranging from noisy punk types to X-Factor contestants to drone pioneers to Top 10 pop stars. All of this pays just enough to cover my basic - and they are basic - living costs.

Because per hour, over a 40-60 working hour week, the freelance journalist currently earns less than minimum wage.

Anyway. By the time it comes to updating his here digital diary I'm spent and also figure that very few people actually give a fuck anyway.

But mainly I have been writing two novels. The process for these can be broken down like this:

The bulk of the first one was written throughout 2011. I started writing it in January 2011, paused to move house in October and finished by the close of the year.

Then in January 2012 I started another novel while re-drafting the previous one. The 2012 one seemed to come quickly. In the meantime I acquired a new agent.

In May 2012 Pig Iron was published so I spent a lot of time promoting it one way or another and still spend some time each day now writing responses to readers, dealing with admin related to it.

I then resumed work on 'the 2012 novel' but then this past summer / autumn I went back to 'the 2011 novel' and re-drafted it, quite drastically. It has now gone throught 6 edits and has been submitted to my agent. It is done and being sent out to interested parties any day now.

Bored yet?

(spot the author)

I took a break in September by spending a week writing a play, which has been blindly submitted to radio and a competition.

'The 2012 novel' is ready to re-drafted, though at a fairly advanced stage. Plot, characters, tone - it's all in place. It is by far the darkest and most disturbing thing I have ever written. It is about lust and deception and murder and fear and animalistic behaviour. I think it is partly inspired by the current economic climate and our shitehawk government. If you read the newspaper or watch the news how can you not be effected by the daily torrent of bad news and the lies that slither from the mealy-mouths of our leaders?

I believe that life in Britain under Cameron is as bad - if not worse - than under Thatcher.

I say this because while all this has been happening I have applied for working tax credits (rejected), arts funding (rejected), entered some stories and a play into numerous writing competitions (got nowhere), entered Pig Iron into a competion (a controversial 2nd place in The Guardian's Not The Booker prize, otherwise: got nowhere) and sold off some possessions on Ebay to pay bills.

The creative industries has been totally shafted these past two years. Decimated.

I write these words merely to give a little insight into the life of someone on the fringes of the literary and music worlds.

The kicker is that Pig Iron is selling well and has had almost solely positive reviews. It is selling better and getting more online readers reviews than certain acclaimed books on bigger publishers, with marketing budgets behind them.

All of which has strengthened my resolve to write bolder and better books.

Giving in or giving up would be like giving in to Them - the shitehawks - and I refuse to do that.

So I chop wood to heat the house. I walk the woods (it's free). I have taken up running. I don't watch TV. I don't drink or smoke or do drugs (any more). I've stopped buying newspapers. I've barely bought any clothing. Entertainment is books and films and fires and food and music and love and laughter.

And there you have it: I hopefully have two new novels on the way. They'll be a while coming, and the logistics of publication are yet to be sorted out, but they will come...

Thanks for reading.

For now...


Nick Triplow said...

All sounds familiar. We write because we must. Something back once in a while wouldn't go amiss.

PIG IRON is an excellent book. Good luck for the others in 2013.

Stephen Leather said...

Yeah, writing professionally can be brutal. I hope you don't mind me making a suggestion but have a look at your KIndle listing for Pig Iron - it's coming up as Myers Benjamin and not Benjamin Myers. Also, you might think about popping over to Author Central and jazzing up your Author Page with a picture and links to your excellent blog etc. It makes your work easier to find!