It’s fair to say the last year’s been quite a busy one. There have been moments when I’ve felt like I wouldn’t make it to the weekend, let alone the end of the year. Between working at the Ulster Hall, publishing a book, writing a book, ACES readings and buying a house there hasn’t been much breathing room for all the things which keep me human, (Poirot-watching, reading, niece and nephew-wrangling, traveling etc). However, as of Friday past I am officially on a three month, (or quarter year as I prefer to call it, for this sounds like a much more substantial chunk of time), career break. I have left the Ulster Hall and will not, for the first time in four years, be wearing multiple hats; just a single, rather jaunty writers’ hat.
I have a simple plan for the next 3 months: read, rest and write 50,000 words. I’ll be attempting to write between the hours of 10am and 2pm each day, (working my way through the second half of Roundabouts), and leaving myself time to have sociable evenings and weekends, which I’ve heard about, but rarely experienced in the last 4 years. For those of you who’ve been asking, I’ll be in Belfast focusing on writing throughout August and will then be off to the US on September 1st, returning October 17th. There are already lots of exciting US events and readings with Malcolm Orange Disappears beginning to be scheduled and I can’t wait for the adventure part of my sabbatical.
I also want to ensure I enjoy, and fully utilise, this first part of my time off. A month is both a decent chunk of time, and not very long at all. So far I’ve written a little, spent a rather damp weekend camping and reading at Forfey festival with the lovely, Orla, (see pictures above), and have read more than I’ve had the opportunity to read in a very long time. I already feel like a different, and much more wide awake, version of myself. I have some personal goals for this month: cook more, read some Faulkner, write some new shorts and send them off to journals, watch every movie at the QFT, coffee with people I love and never get to see properly, blog more often, sleep properly. Mostly, however I want to get this novel finished and finished well. I’m a little scared, it’s been 3 months since I last touched Roundabouts and the expanse of writing with no boundaries on my time is a daunting phenomenon, akin to the largest sheet of blank paper I’ve ever faced. I’m afraid of writers’ block and filling my time with distractions and returning to the novel to find I no longer like it and wanting to write different novels, but I am determined to persevere. It’s not very often that life gives you 3 months to indulge yourself in the very thing you love doing most. I’m going to enjoy every second of wearing my writers’ hat.