Losing a year



An odd thing has happened. I think I may have mislaid a year. Has anyone seen 2016 lying around near here?

I know that 2016 happened. We lost a lot of celebrities. There was more political upheaval than you could shake a ceremonial mace at. An Olympics happened, mostly under the shadow of drug accusations. Andy Murray became the world number one tennis player.

But somehow, I don’t feel that I connected in 2016. I blogged a lot less than usual. I didn’t publish a book. It felt hard to get going.

I have no idea why. It wasn’t my usual procrastination demons. Apart from my writing, I got a lot done, did a lot of work, made progress. My to-do-list is emptier than I have known it for some years. It wasn’t that.

There was the shock of my wife’s mother passing in December 2015. That cast a long shadow over the family. We had all of the estate business to deal with which seemed to involve writing endless emails to solicitors and accountants. There was the house to clear, with hard decisions to make about what to throw away, give away, sell or keep.

We get to decide between treasured memories or junk. Not an easy choice.

Then there was Brexit and Trump. In both, a great mass of unheard people demanded to be listened to. They wanted change. They were, and are, afraid of the modern world, of globalisation and terror. But I can’t help feeling that in both cases people were taken in by snake-oil salesmen to buy something that won’t address their problems.

And politicians have wrestled with the age-old problem at the root of democracy – should the state give the public a chance to make bad decisions? No one has ever solved that conundrum.

There’s a puzzling development where we don’t listen to experts any more. This one baffles me. An expert is, by definition, someone who knows more about a subject than you do. And these are the people we shouldn’t be listening to?

Huh? I suppose that line of argument just about works as a way of conning people to vote for something stupid. Given a choice, do we listen to someone who knows what they are talking about, or an armchair quarterback who has nothing but home-spun opinions fed by fake news?

Most of all, it’s the hate that I struggled with in 2016. Everything seems mean-spirited, selfish and destructive. We don’t seem to want to find consensus any more. We have abandoned the concept of win-win where everybody gets something. Instead we have a nasty win-lose attitude where some people want to see the other side crushed and humiliated.

So I am drawing a line under 2016. It seems like the year when everybody lost, even if they don’t realise it yet. Let’s do a ctrl-alt-delete on the year. A reboot. Start again. Press reset.

I’ve got some new books coming out. There’s a sequel to Love, Death and Tea which has finally made it through the editing phase. Love, Death and Wyrds should be available for pre-order very soon. We just need to do make a few last editing changes and get the cover done.

It’s an exciting prospect. I’ve never written a sequel before. It will be interesting to see how readers take to it.

It does mean that I need to do all that publicity stuff that I positively hate. But that’s the way of this business. Writing is only half of the job. The other half is putting the book in front of readers.

Then there are two chess books. That’s more of a niche market, but one that I’m keen to keep going. Both are written and edited. We’re getting ready for covers and blurbs.

And if that wasn’t enough excitement, I’ve also written a brief guide on beating procrastination. That one is mostly written, but not yet edited.

Further down the pipeline, I am more than half way through a sequel to “Global Domination for Beginners”. After torturing my non-fantasy reading wife by asking her to edit “Love, Death and Tea”, I am now going to introduce her to the delights of science fiction. That will get the sparks flying.

And a little bit beyond that, I’m sketching out a political comedy under the code name of “Pip”. It’s a sort of Great Expectations meets Jeeves and Wooster meets House of Cards meets Harry Potter.

You know, one of those kinds of books. A bit like … er … um … well ….

It will be my way of trying to make sense of post-truth politics, with a post-truth anti-hero. I might throw in some more adult themes and make this one a little darker. We’ll see.

So here’s to 2017. A new year, a new start.


5 thoughts on “Losing a year

  1. Just don’t discount the athletes because the ‘news’ organizations chose to spend their energy on the scandals. The athletes work hard, and we barely pay them attention every four years. 2016 was Bolt’s year, and the year for the Brazilian soccer team, and…

    Other than that, you may be right.

    2016 was my first (and I fervently hope) worst year ever in marketing. I got sick a lot – and didn’t get as far in Book 2 as I planned/hoped/wished.

    But I’m still glad I’m published, and the reviews are awesome (except for the reader who thinks I use big words and the spiteful passive-aggressive one, damning with very faint praise and a killing title).

    At least we don’t have to repeat it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Reviews are strange beasts. They can sometimes be wholly contradictory. One will say that something is too dark, the next that it isn’t dark enough. And sometimes people will confuse “I didn’t like it” with “It’s not very good.”

      Best of luck with your reviews. We should treasure the awesome ones and learn from most of the others. And draw a polite veil over the ones that come from left field!


    • I’m sure you’re right about the petty power thing. The review system has become a way for some people to brag about how knowledgeable they are. I suppose it’s something we have to make allowances for.

      If it helps, the experts say that a few 1 or 2 star reviews doesn’t hurt as much as we might think. It reassures potential customers that the reviews are honest. And anyway there are few things which are universally liked.


      • Oh, I treasure having 1 each of 1,2, and 3 star reviews. But I’m happy not to incite more. The three give me respectability.

        But getting reviews has been like courting the emperor for favors, so I’d like not to slip below 4* average, if at all possible – unless I start getting more. It took over a year to accummulate 28 reviews.


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