The end of January already? How did that happen? The fact that I have drafted two previous opening lines to this post (the first about how it is already two weeks into the year, the second how it is already three weeks into the year) is an indication of how busy I have been the last few weeks. There’s work, of course, but that aside, I have been busy writing. Hence my being missing online for the last month or so. The first three weeks of Jan saw me researching, researching, researching for novel two (more on this in a future post perhaps), and working on a short story, my first in a while, for an upcoming submission. When not doing that, I have been busy planning First Story workshops for the run up to assembling the anthology.

While I have had my head down, busy reading and scribbling, the result of my final MA assignment, the portfolio, appeared in my inbox. The portfolio in this instance means novel. The reason I selected Manchester Metropolitan University for my MA studies in Creative Writing (Novel) was driven by them being one of a handful that offer a distance learning option ( I was living in Germany at the time of starting the course and the commute from Westphalia to Manchester would have been a killer), and the fact that, for the main assessment, they demand a complete novel of over 60,000 words. I reckoned that my paying a large sum of money and the immutable deadline of the September 2014 would be motivation enough to ensure I, finally, complete a novel and, turns out, I was right. The novel went off to the Uni back in September last year and I received my marks (which I believe translate into a distinction – final confirmation of all marks and awards are to follow in February) along with a lengthy piece of critical feedback.

How did I celebrate the receipt of this news? I did what any writer would do, I shared a meal and a glass of wine with my better half, then, the next day, I began using the mornings of my writing days to complete the first draft of the opening chapter of my next novel and the afternoons to run through another edit of the MA novel, using the feedback as focus. It seems this writing process is like a spiral staircase stretching on and on. That said, for novel one at least, I think the top of the tower is in sight. Plan is to give it another good edit, fix a few key parts, and then see about getting it out into the world.

Wolf Hall

Other than that, I’ve been devouring Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies in anticipation of then consuming the six-episodes of the BBC adaptation in rapid succession. I’m a little shame-faced to have left it this long to read them. I was dubious as to whether they would deserve the critical acclaim laid out before them but they are clearly every bit the modern classics the reviews and the pair of Bookers would have people believe. I am now amongst the many, many readers eagerly awaiting the final instalment of Mantel’s masterpiece.

In the next few weeks I have two short stories to work on, one for possible inclusion in a literary journal, the other for an anthology on a subject very dear to my heart. I will leave that statement suitably vague for now, luck and publication allowing, more details may follow. Other than that, there is the matter of my editing a collection of work by the First Story writers of Banovallum School to keep me busy. It’s already shaping up to be a cracking collection of their writing from the last five months and I still await final drafts of many of their best pieces. So 2015 is already shaping up to be a busy year for me. Which is better than the alternative.

Hope your year has got off to a great start.