Farewell 2010 …

The last post of the year.

As far as writing goes, 2010 saw far more in the credit side of the ledger than the debit. I started writing for The Skinny, The Scottish Review of Books and Gutter, contributing book reviews that in some cases I actually got paid for (that’s less mercenary than it sounds; if you’re as relentlessly serious about writing as I hope I am, you want to make at least part of your income out of it, if only to lessen the amount of time you need to spend in paid employment), and of course I started writing this blog. I don’t know why it took me so long to get around to starting one, but after working on it since August, I’m very glad that I did. It’s encouraging to see the number of hits I get climb steadily month by month, and that this isn’t all just thrown out into a void.

2010 also saw the continued writing of my novel, “In Borderlands”, although this is becoming such an epochal project that most of 2011 will no doubt see the same. I have started writing the third part, at last, and finally have firm ideas for form and structure. I should have a first draft of the whole thing finished by the summer.

Hopefully as significant (at least to me) was the decision I made with Martin MacInnes to finally set up our own journal. “Free State” is still in the process of construction, and we’re still soliciting pieces and submissions (not as much fiction as I would have thought), but I think the journal is going to have legs. I would count it as a great success if, many years from now, Martin and I could even step aside as editors and there would still be a “Free State” to continue.

As far as reading goes, I think this year I have read fewer contemporary novels than usual. Martin Amis’s “The Pregnant Widow” was a particular favourite, and another important discovery for me (found through reviewing) has been Robert Alan Jamieson, whose “Da Happie Laand” was an extraordinary experimental work. The book that’s had the biggest influence on me this year though, mainly through its TV adaptation, has been William Boyd’s “Any Human Heart”. I’m reading it at last, and the book has made doubly impressive the adaptation – Boyd managed to significantly scale down and condense his novel for the screen, without losing any of its soul. Logan Mountstuart is a character who it pains me doesn’t actually exist. I would love to read “The Girl Factory”, or “The Cosmopolitans”, or even his biography of Shelley.

In the debit side of the writing ledger, I didn’t get the grant from the Arts Council, or the Book Trust, or whatever their called this year. Fine. Better luck next time.

Which could easily be the motto for 2011.




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