Tuesday, December 31, 2013

We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet …

This time last year, I was at a crossroads and wondering whether to continue with The Agitation of the Mind. I’m happy to report no such doubts assail me this time round.

Fifteen months ago, after attending a talk and reading by Neil Astley, the head honcho of Bloodaxe Books and the editor of three magnificent anthologies of modern poetry – ‘Staying Alive’, ‘Being Alive’ and ‘Being Human’ – I got my mojo back for writing poetry. My first efforts as a writer were in that form, long before my book on Peckinpah, any of the short stories or this blog and its now defunct predecessors.

Those fifteen months have seen me produce over a hundred new poems, some average, some embarrassingly bad and some just kicking around waiting for a long overdue rewrite to breathe some life into them. Some of them, though … some of them were good. That might sound like I’m blowing my own trumpet, but when as a writer you produce something that you know works, that you know has some merit, that not only stands up to your own scrutiny (because believe me, I’m the worst fucking critic I’ll ever have) but goes out into the world and finds an editor who says yes to it, that’s when the buzz kicks in and Colombian drug barons weep because their finest marching powder is nothing compared to that feeling for a writer.

This year, I’ve had 29 poems published or accepted for publication. ‘Litany’ was runner-up in the Spyke Golding Literary Award and actually earned me some money. I rounded out this year by submitting 10 unpublished pieces for the Cinnamon Press debut poetry collection competition.

I’ve also found myself regularly contributing book reviews to LeftLion magazine and, more recently, to the Five Leaves Bookshop website. On top of this, I hold down a full time job and will continue to for as long as I have a mortgage or a seriously unexpected windfall with a lot of zeroes occurs. Time, in other words, is something I find myself with less and less of at the moment and it’s certainly impacted this year on my writing for Agitation. Hence 98 posts during 2013, as opposed to 179 in 2013, 247 in 2011, and 307 in 2010.

The trend for fewer posts will, I’m afraid, continue in 2014, but I’ll do my best to compensate with quality over quantity. 13 For Halloween will return, as will Winter of Discontent (oh, yes, I’m already planning some wonderfully sleazy delights for next year’s Winter of Discontent), and I’ve got a couple of other things in mind, of which more later.

I’m taking January off from blogging, after which it’ll probably be one post a week for a few months. To all those who have stuck with me so far and who’ll keep checking back next year, many thanks. A glass of good single malt is raised to you and I offer my best wishes for a Happy New Year. Slainte mhath!


Tim said...

Glad to hear that everything's going so well for you! After being spoiled with reviews this past month, it'll be disappointing to have to wait for more, but you've definitely earned it.

Neil Fulwood said...

Thanks, Tim. I'm taking January off to clear the decks of some reviewing and put a pamphlet together for submission to a local publisher. I've already got some articles planned for February, though, including a book review of the Richard Burton diaries (Yale University Press) which is as unputdownable as any work of fiction I've read.