My 2020

Someone just asked me why I didn’t have any new books out in 2020. Well, I guess it’s fair to say I didn’t have the time. I’ve kept a low profile on social media, promotion of my books has lingered around zero effort, and I’ve barely written a word since March 2020. That was the month covid-19 became a reality in Jersey, and we hurried into lockdown.

So started a cycle of anything up to 16 hour work days as our entire business became work-from-home. Every task took a little longer as we accustomed ourselves to video calls, no printing of paper and the loss of immediacy.  A brief walk across the office and 5-minute chat to solve an issue became a ping-pong email conversation that took much longer to conclude.

And through it all, fear ran like a silken thread insidiously wrapping itself around you until you couldn’t think straight. Fear for family, friends, colleagues and the world as we knew it; laced with the anxiety that peppers our new existence.

Then there was MyVLF. I co-founded this free online virtual literary festival site in April 2019, with two great friends, Gwyn GB and Deborah Carr and it had been 18 months in the building before that. In 2019 we ran a few online literary festivals, the first of their kind globally, built up content, introduced a monthly book club and the subscriber list grew. It was bookish fun with two good friends. I still had time to write after the working day, and my MyVLF commitments were done.

Then came 2020; many authors faced upcoming launch days with no idea how they would promote their novels, as events resulted in cancelled book festivals and book signings. We posted on MyVLF that we’d help out where we could and, in response to the considerable number of replies, started running weekly author chats and panel conversations. Then came the opportunity to produce and host The Big Book Weekend on MyVLF, we had just a few weeks to pull together this three-day event that featured participants from the cancelled British book festivals. Stress levels were through the roof, the day-job was frantically busy, and we were in lockdown.

Much of the work, including author liaison, timetabling the event slots, producing and editing the resulting video, uploading author and book details to the site fell to my partners, Gwyn and Debs, as I have a full-time day job. They are both self-employed as full-time writers, and Gwyn is also a freelance PR and journalist. So the slack of what I couldn’t do was taken up by them—cue feelings of massive guilt. The year carried on with running more festivals and author chats, and we became exhausted, yearning to concentrate on our writing and the promotion of our books.

We’ve decided to take a well-earned break from MyVLF. The site is still there, still free to join and access the entire back catalogue of author events, but there won’t be any new material for a little while.

So what does that mean for me? I have cautiously started a plan for writing in 2021. I need to rediscover what writing has always meant to me – and first and foremost, it’s an antidote to a demanding day job. I lose myself in the worlds I’ve created and submerge myself in the story: plotting and planning, researching and writing. Then there’s marketing and promotion, interacting with readers and other authors. That’s what I’m looking forward to in 2021.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *