All change

Hello and happy nearly-new year!

I didn’t do any kind of round up of 2019, or musings about 2020 as December counted down. I couldn’t, at that point, write about looking forward to 2020 because just before Christmas I handed my notice in at work, and it wasn’t common knowledge until this week.

Reasons for leaving: there are many. Some are obvious (see below). Some not so obvious, unless you know me well. It is, and this will surprise no one, something I’ve been psyching myself up to do for quite a while. I thought I would be more nervous after I quit. I kept waiting for the sick what I have done? feeling to kick in, but it hasn’t yet. It still has time to; I’m in the office ‘til mid-March, and even after that I will be doing some freelance work for the company. But that’ll be alongside my other freelance work, because I’m taking a proper leap into the pitching seas, rather than the odd amount of shallow paddling I’ve been doing. And I’m taking some time out to properly focus on my writing (something I’m sure my agent will be relieved to hear).

It all has potential to go horribly wrong, but at the moment, possibly too optimistically, I’m just looking forward to it. You never know unless you try, right?

I wasn’t really in a frame of mind to recap the previous year, either. I think I thought I already had, sort of? Apparently I imagined writing a load of blog posts, though, because it turns out I haven’t put anything up here since July 2019.

Because of the pressures of my day job and the increasingly expensive and unreliable commute (who knew I would spend so much time sitting in Durham Bus Station when I neither live nor work in Durham), combined with a return of the dreaded depression, I spent a lot of 2019 just keeping swimming. Which is, you know – thumbs-up-big-smile. That doesn’t mean good things didn’t happen, though – the highlight of the second half of the year was putting on the HARK! music event at Crown Street Library with Tracks. Based around a theme of music inspired by stories, we booked The Shining Levels, Storm Chorus and Nel Unlit to play, and got local author Tracey Iceton, and BBC Tees radio presenter and all-round star Bob Fischer to do readings from the relevant texts. Alas, Nel Unlit were struck down by norovirus a few days before, so the extremely talented Ed Woods (who had bought a ticket for the event anyway) agreed to play instead.

Turns out our lovely library has beautiful acoustics, the poster design by Rob was gorgeous, and the event was a sell-out (we hadn’t  capped the tickets because we didn’t know how it would go, but we basically had enough tickets that we started to run out of space for the audience). We installed a little pop-up bar courtesy of Saints Row Brewery. And as host, I didn’t entirely shame myself. It was a magical evening, and now I wish I’d written this closer to the time. Anyway – here’s a link to a quick write up. And we’ll be doing it again.

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(Three of) The Shining Levels (the other two members are there, just hidden)  – their Music Inspired by The Gallows Pole is one of my favourite albums ever.

Smaller things:

  • Finally registered with a dentist after five years of living in the North East, and happily my teeth are not rotting out of my head (despite multiple nightmares to that effect, and despite my wisdom tooth kicking off about, I dunno, being only partially erupted or something).
  • I’ve started doing aerial yoga as a gentle-ish nod back to when I used to climb and go to circus skills classes twenty years ago. I say gentle-ish, but I basically couldn’t walk the next day.
  • Going to post a few of my stories up – the ones that have been published by aren’t really accessible anymore due to magazines going out of print etc.

Anyway, it has been a year during which I have been extremely grateful for the friends I have, and the happinesses they are having (so many weddings!), and this town I’ve moved to (even if it has gone Tory urgh), and I’m extremely grateful to be here for the next round. Very lucky to have met the people I’ve met, and have them in my life – yeah if you’re reading this you know who you are x

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