Saturday 1 July 2023

Update (it's 2023 and I'm still here)

 It's July 2023 and apparently - apart from one post about Pride - I haven't blogged here in two years. I'm not sure people still read blogs, but in case anybody does, maybe a general life and writing update.


In August 2022, I benefited from a general staff cut across the whole company and took voluntary redundancy, which involved getting a chunk of money and four months' paid holiday. Also, I knew it was coming, so I was prepared for it.

Over the years, it had got increasingly difficult to stay in that particular industry (shift work, for example, really wrecks my sleep patterns), so that was a really good exit for me. I made the most of the "gardening leave", travelled a bit, tried out a full-time gig as a freelance translator, wrote a book, started another, then in March 2023 started to get a bit restless and applied for a few jobs again, this time only those with good work/life balance. Received multiple offers within two weeks or so, then decided to go work for a gigantic media company, dealing with general data quality stuff. The money isn't the same as in financial services, but it's enough for me, mostly because I paid down the mortgage aggressively during those years with the large paycheck.

I also spend some time getting therapy and worked through some childhood and teenage issues, as well as the death of my mother. I'm not sure I feel "better" - that was my first course of therapy, and I didn't like the snotty crying every damn week at 10:00 on Tuesdays. I'm more aware of some patterns now and know why some stuff hits me in the heart and other stuff I just shrug off.

Job-wise, things remain in flux, though - I've applied for an internal job at my current employer and an external company recruiter has approached me for the kind of opportunity I'd be silly not to go for. I'm already past the first interview stage and expecting further assessment. Job stuff seems to come in waves - I had multiples nibbles and about fifteen interviews in November/December, and always made it to "second place" - somebody had more experience, usually, or in one case the job just vanished. Anyway, I'm happy where I am and could easily stay here and do a few more years working for corporates. If that other opportunity happens, I'll take it and work there for 4-6 more years before I ride into the sunset.

Otherwise, not a huge amount happened. I still live where I lived, live with the same person I've lived with, write with the same writing group (though happily I've met a great fellow writer from Germany who's smart and driven and really brightens my days). I'm back to the gym, lift some weights, walk a lot, and declutter stuff I bought mostly as some kind of stress therapy during the banking years. I also bought a fountain pen I've been wanting for many years as a "getting fired" present to myself. I'm playing a bit on the X-Box, got pretty good at Call of Duty multiplayer ("pretty good" means I'm no longer just target practice for more experienced players) and looking forward to Phantom Liberty. 


I still can't believe Burn this City came out in 2021. I guess time flies when you're working hard. 2022 up to August wasn't a very creative time for me, especially after returning to the office in the first seven months of it. There's something about open-plan offices, shift work and stress that kills my writing mojo.

When I got out, I threw myself full bore into translating - seemed like a great way of doing something creative without actually having to be all that creative (after all, the plot, characters and scenes are already there). For a while, the concept of "travelling around with my laptop, translating" held a lot of appeal, but I still returned to corporate work for several reasons. I'm a good translator and reasonably fast, but I'm not sure I was born for it. What this period did was allow my characters to talk to me again.

I became a member of several libraries (British Library, London Library) so I can access them as places to work/study/look up things, and started working on the concept of my fantasy novel/s. I had only a vague idea in 2022, but fleshed out the conflict/world in early 2023 while travelling.

My old problem  remains - I can't write commercial work fast enough to have a viable career in m/m romance ("viable career" meaning replacing my paycheck), so I'm looking at spending most of my time/energy on fantasy novels, where consistency seems more important than huge volume. It's daunting to start from nothing, but over the past few years, I haven't been able to find any m/m romance I enjoy reading (a few exceptions prove the rule), and I feel alienated from the current trends - or the trends that were current when I looked last. I am a member of various Discord and Facebook groups focused on m/m and the books that seem popular don't do anything for me - and the tropes that are popular don't align with what I like to write. Like, at all.

That said, the book I've finished in 2022 is an m/m romance, and I'm currently working on the sequel. There will probably be a sequel after that, because the characters talk and plan their little plans in my head, and it'll be fun to give some old characters closure, and tell the story of the new characters that cropped up while I was writing about the old characters. I'm ostensibly editing the first book, and there are some re-writes I need to make it really work. The idea is to publish that book and the second book pretty close together and then I'll see if the third book has any legs (it might be just a novella, in the end). I'm aiming to get both out by the end of the year.

This  week, after lots of planning and plotting, I've also started on the fantasy novel/s, and I think those are 2024 releases (we only have six months left, after all, and fantasy wordcounts are usually higher).  I'm curious where this thing will go - I do plot, but the characters usually end up doing something else entirely. I'm also still doing translations, but only occasionally and mostly my own books. 

TL;DNR: expect new m/m releases this year, and fantasy novels in 2024. 

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