Let’s not make the same mistakes next year…

Perhaps that should be the only resolution any of us make when facing into a new year. After all, it is bound to cover a number of bases..!

Twelve months ago – almost to the day – I posted a review / preview of my writing years, ’17 into ’18. The stand out? That I had rediscovered my ‘mojo’. Heady stuff. And guess what? Twelve month’s on, and the mojo’s still going strong!

In three days, 2019 starts with the publication of a new collection of poetry, “First-time Visions of Earth From Space”. Am I happy with it? It’s funny, that’s the kind of question I have been asking myself more and more. Having rediscovered a passion and found a medium and method, the first priority was to leverage that as much as possible; to do something with it.

‘Being published’ became a mantra all its own. That was the motherlode.

But is it? Really? I am co-editing an anthology under my Coverstory books imprint which will be published in March or April next year. My co-editor has persuaded me to include a small number of poems alongside his and nine other poets’ work. I’m enjoying the process and really looking forward to getting other people into print too.

The personal challenge I had was in selecting five poems to include as my contribution. Not that many – and so many to choose from… Four of the selection come from “Visions” (a publicity-driven necessity, possibly), and one from “After the Rehearsals”, published this year. What was interesting as I sifted through my work to make my choice, was how few pieces I thought were candidates. Shouldn’t they all have been? And if they weren’t, why was that? Perhaps I’d set the selection bar particularly high, but as I reflected on it, I knew I wanted all my pieces to be able to jump it. Naturally. And, naturally, they can’t.

You want every single thing you produce to be a winner, a masterpiece – but that’s just not possible.

And perhaps that’s the learning, the mistake not to be made. Having proven the process, a level of ability, should volume become secondary now? Is it time to focus much more harshly, single-mindedly on depth, sophistication, quality, ‘newness’? Is there therefore something else – something fresh – to be proven here? Do I want – the next time I have to filter for an anthology (and I hope there will be a next time!) – the choice to be much, much harder? Absolutely.

It’s not just poetry, of course. On the 1st February my new novel, “At Maunston Quay”, hits the metaphorical shelves. And how do I feel about that? Is it – kicking the tyres on the new mantra – ‘good enough’? Hard to say. And I am biased. I think the story is solid enough, and in places there are passages of which I’m really proud. The sentiment is positive and optimistic (if a little too sweet for some palettes, probably), and there are parts of it that make me cry – and I wrote the damn thing!

If it were an exam it would be ‘merit’ pass – but what if you wanted a ‘distinction’..?

I am currently kicking around some ideas for 2019: two for poetry collections, two fiction. I suspect there are the ‘easy’ options, and the ‘hard’ ones. Toss a coin? In 2017 I know which side it would have fallen. But now? It’s still in the air…

Happy New Year!