With each passing year the annual review feels as traditional as Facebook’s false resolutions, a large bottle of Jack Daniels and Jools Holland’s Hootenanny. Yet with each year I also find myself unable to summarise with enthusiasm a productive year in which a bountiful fruit of finished manuscripts laden my desk like Emma Watson covered in nothing but Chester Copperpot’s gold stash. The fact that I don’t actually have a desk at the moment doesn’t have any bearing on that, mind.
Take heed, reader: though the title and the opening paragraph may seem like my glass is a little more than just half empty, this isn’t a negative or berating review of the year. In fact, it’s much the opposite. I’m not a pessimist, I’m just a realist. Truth is, I’ve had an amazing year – probably one of the best I’ve had in living memory since I left Birmingham four years ago. So though some projects may have fell by the wayside and others have taken a neglected backseat, I’ve come out on top and for that I’m content.
Last year’s post was a frank and honest account of the year that I had in bite-size chunks with a decidedly rebellious attitude towards the end; in fact I think peeked the amount of ‘Fuck’s’ in one blog post so I can’t exactly say there were zero fucks given. But, my attitude was clear: there’s no dwelling about what happened and instead focus on what’s still to come. I’ve certainly done that this year, with a greater emphasis on (pretentious alert) myself and what I really want, and as I’ve already covered in my marriage blog, I definitely found it.
It was quite the turn of events this year as I became a family man to two amazing boys, both inherently different but both uniquely wonderful and a joy to have. It changed my life irrevocably but for the better, as I faced fresh challenges that have ended up refining my outlook on my career. It’s a big change to go from spending afternoon’s on the sofa watching what ever I wanted to becoming a responsible adult that is tasked with feeding, clothing and entertaining a four year old (sometimes the entertainment comes from my attempt to do the first two) but it’s a change I wouldn’t alter for the world. It is the most content and right I have ever felt; I feel it’s what I was always meant to do. I’ve been finding my feet as a Father figure this year – no easy task when they’re newly-born so coming in to it midway is a learn-on-the-job kind of deal – and in doing so I’ve left my writing feet in the cupboard. That’s why the scripts have gone neglected but that’s why I’m more than happy to say that I’m content with where I am right now. I’ve spent the year being what I’ve always wanted to be: a family man. I’ve worn a genuine smile this year.
I always remember reading Dave Turner’s end of year blog back in 2010 and how he’d written that “2010 saw me fail to complete any new writing product.” That always resonated with me and it was good to see a writer being so truthful about this difficult process we put ourselves through. He inspired me a lot, so much so that I started this blog as a way of documenting the struggles of a budding writer. You have to check out his superb short film script ‘Everything You Need’ which brought a tear to my eye – he deserves to be recognised. Dave is a family man too, but back then I wasn’t and I could only imagine how difficult it was to juggle such responsibilities as the burning desire to write and create forever flamed in the back of the mind. I often feel like I’m not too good at the juggling if truth be told, as when I get in the zone of writing that is almost impossible to leave I feel like I’m being anti-social and neglectful, but the good thing is my wife-to-be and two boys understand – particularly the eldest, who is a far more refined and talented writer than me. Check his stuff out here and here.
And so being a family man has refined my focus in to a more realistic picture of who I want to be as a writer and what projects I want to develop. Before, when the only responsibilities I had were feeding myself and paying the bills, I would often write a huge two-to-three page list of every single idea that I wanted to develop and then at the end of the year I’d barely be able to tick off one page, leaving myself bitterly disappointed and bereft of motivation. There’s such a thing as too much pressure on yourself, and I’ve learnt that now with greater responsibility my time is better spent on those projects that are always at the forefront of my mind. So I’ve made a list, an achievable one in my opinion. I have three films that I want to finish; not completely, just get them to their respective draft stages. I have the intricate TV series I want to continue developing through research, storyboards and giant A3 sheets of paper that connect all of the different storylines together, and to keep myself fresh and to have a place to send myself to when the other projects get a little too needy, I’ve got my Tales of the Damned blog that will see at least one short story a month posted.
They’re obtainable and realistic goals. You know, I used to have this big idea that the first script I would ever write would be a huge success and that every idea that came after it would have the same effect, but I’ve managed to come down from that cloud now and I’ve realised that hard work, really hard work, the kind of hard work that sees you sat up at 2am in the morning desperately writing and re-writing a single line of dialogue is what will eventually lend you credence and if not success, then at least a comfortable belief in your efforts. I recently discovered probably the best quote I have ever read about the difficulties of writing and I’ve pinned it to my mind so that in those moments when I’m struggling, I’ll remember what I need to do to close the gap.
So who knows what I’ll be writing this time next year? I can only hope for that my work manages to reach more people and be read by the people that will be able to make a dream into a reality. The key is to keep writing, and stay happy. With my little family, I’ve already ticked one box.
Happy New Year.