Well…not ‘full time’…
In 2018 I left my job of 25 years and set up my own consultancy company (you can find details of that over bewickconsulting.com). There were many reasons for my decision, but one thing I was looking forward to was having more time to write: heading up a team of 30+ in a global role meant for the past few years I just hadn’t devoted the time to writing I would like – being at work for 12 hours plus per day (including a godawful journey to work each day which might just show up in a fictionalised version via short story one of these days soon) tended to sap the creativity/ energy levels to write.
So 2018 was a turning point in many ways – and it certainly gave me the time, and energy, to write more. Not just fiction either: this here site started to get a bit more attention, and in its current state has seen a year featuring a range of reviews, resource pieces and surfacing of a range of fiction: some of which was published, and some which would otherwise never have seen the light of day.
2018 allowed me to return to writing with a bit more time and a lot more passion: to write things because I wanted to write them – not because they had to be done for a deadline or as a reaction to a competition/ opportunity/ possibility. Just to write things I wanted to write that may not immediately find a home.
It also allowed me the time to explore new avenues that I simply hadn’t had time to consider before despite my awareness of them given my professional career in publishing: namely the opportunities offered by self publishing and for networking with other writers – both professionally published, self-published and enthusiasts yet to do anything about their work yet.
It’s been an eye-opening and highly enjoyable experience and I’ve been both invigorated and encouraged in my work – from publishers like Burning Chair – an exciting new venture who published my short story ‘The Five Votive Candles of Joe Wray‘ in their rather very good anthology ‘Burning‘ back in October, from authors who I have written profiles on and have received very generous feedback from including Colin Bateman and Gregg Hurwitz, as well as continued support from writers I have the utmost respect for like Lawrence Block.
It’s been productive as well: two short story collections published, which have both been received well and had some great comments and reviews.
came out back in June: an experiment in some ways to find out more about the world of self publishing. It was a book which broke the rules I offer in my advice to new writers in that I did everything myself because I wanted to be able to talk more knowledgeably about the process: you may know the story about Gandhi who, when faced by a mother asking for advice because her son ate too much sugar, said to come back in two weeks when he would talk to the son, at which time he advised him. “Boy, you should stop eating sugar. It is not good for your health.” The mother asks why he didn’t tell him that two weeks ago and Gandhi replies, “two weeks ago I was eating a lot of sugar myself.” Now, I’m not comparing myself to Gandhi…not least because he never wrote a 12k short story in less than a week that went on to be published. (or am I missing the point?), but I did want to see all sides of the publishing process: and while I wouldn’t recommend doing it all yourself (there are still grammatical errors in BT that shouldn’t be there: even in stories already published by well respected magazines, sites and print publications, and the formatting wasn’t quite the way I would have wanted it in the print version of the book), but despite its ‘idiosyncrasies’ (sounds better than ‘cock-ups’) it has done pretty well for itself and people have been very kind about it.
It also taught me a huge amount about publishing today from a personal point of view, rather than my professional one of 25 years…
You Could Make a Killing
came out later in the year – another collection of short stories, this one more crime/ twist-in-the-tale than the potpourri of genres in Basement Tales. It’s actually, IMHO a better book than Basement Tales: I think the stories are generally stronger (it contains my two favourite stories written to date), the cover, thanks to my wife, is cool, and the formatting is a damn site better. You lives and you learns…
It’s my ‘Paul’s Boutique‘ – you know, the second album that was better than the first in every respect, but hasn’t quite got the same level of notice as the debut (and yes, I did listen to The Beastie Boys’ ‘Book’ this year – and you should too, it’s awesome.) but it’s really starting to land with some nice comments coming from over the pond.
Both Basement Tales and You Could Make a Killing are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle version, and if you have Kindle Unlimited you can get them as part of your monthly membership for free. I would, of course, recommend both.
But outside of the actual publications this year I also had a whole lot of fun with writing:
I had a short story appear in ‘Burning‘: a whirlwind of an experience: going from no idea for a tale a week before deadline day to inspiration hitting in a New York Cathedral resulting in a bunch of all-night writing sprees and ending up with a 23k word piece that took another few sleepless nights to get down to acceptable word limits: the book is great (and that’s not boasting – there’s thirteen other good folk in there, all of them worth reading…)
Burning: An Anthology of Short Thrillers
And other stuff too….
I ran a workshop entitled ‘The Write Stuff’ (details of which can be found elsewhere on this here site) which ran a few times and to sold-out audiences on each occasion. Springsteen on Broadway? Pah, eat your hungry heart out, Bruce.
I did some book signings.
I did a radio show and read one of my stories out live on air.
I did a video interview.
I wrote my first film script in over ten years.
I wrote my first radio play ever. (Although I guess these days it’s a podcast episode…hey, there’s an idea: a podcast…and while you’re at it, get off my lawn you pesky kids…)
I wrote a bunch of reviews which were published (because I also got to see a few decent shows and gigs in 2018).
I set up a business which allows me to use some of the corporate writing I’ve done for years in what will, I hope, be a more creative, useful and…dare I say it…fun way.
I read a bunch of books and saw a few films (interestingly not as many as in previous years due to creating more stuff myself, but those I did see I watched more actively than my previous post-work vegged out state.)
I wrote a couple of kid’s Halloween stories and then actually read them to a mummy and child audience on the night itself…and got some nasty glares from said mummies who spent the night with their offspring in bed with them.
I did a lot of editing for other people and realised how much easier it is to do on other folks’ work than it is your own…
I attended my first ever story-telling event and stood up and read one of my own little pieces.
I wrote a lot of social reviews…Amazon, Trip Advisor, IMDB, Good Reads, you name it, I wrote on it: no big deal, people do it every day, but I hadn’t for years…it felt good.
I also wrote a lot of this sort of stuff, and it’s been fun – some of you have even said you found a couple of articles useful (not this self-aggrandising poppycock of course…)
But 2018 was a good year for writing.
I think 2019 is going to be better:
My novel Air of December will be coming out within the next couple of months – more news on this coming very soon.
I’m editing, in a professional context, a book…which is proving a whole new and fulfilling experience. (Not quite enough to take up editing full time but hey…)
I’m already scheduled to be speaking at several events and signings – and more to come soon.
I’ve got a couple of non-fiction pieces being published in the next few weeks: more news on this as and when.
And I’ve got a whole ton of stuff to write…that’s the other nice thing about writing without deadlines and writing for yourself: time and length lose their fear..
I took a look through a few files last night to decide what to work on next….
I’ve got my ‘100% Detective’ novel – (the opening chapter of which appeared at the end of You Could Make a Killing, and also on this site – you can read it here: The 100% Detective . I’m 28k in, with a full plot in place (actually, potentially enough plot for two books), and a deadline to have it all done by June…better cut this short and get back to it…
I’ve got a full plot outline for a novel I think could be interesting around an art theft that draws a bit outside the lines…(heh heh – see what I did there?) I like the idea I’ve got and think it could make a nice twisty-turny piece.
I’ve got a brand new domestic drama novel that came pretty much fully formed (or that’s what I think now…once the writing starts these things tend to take on a bit of a life of their own in terms of where they go…)
I’ve got three note books full of short stories, at least half of which still look like good ideas to me…which is a pretty amazing ratio from my experience.
One thing’s for sure: I’m not going to be short of things to write in 2019:
I hope you’ll stay with me on it. To those who have been reading me so far, thanks for the support and the kind words, and if you’re new to this and wondering what all this babbling is about, you can find free stuff of my writing here on this site under fiction, you can pop across to Amazon and pick them up: try the Look Inside for the free bit first if you’re not sure, or if you’ve got Kindle Unlimited what have you got to lose?
A belated Happy 2019.