After six months, another blog!
I’m still alive despite the pandemic. Just been hibernating.
As this generally ghastly year draws to its close, leaving us to look back on it with the clear perspective of 2020 hindsight (pause for groans), I shall sum up what I’ve achieved during the year so anyone interested can read about it.
Health and wellbeing? Suffice it to say my little cancer problem seems to be under control, and so far I’ve caught one or two colds but no covids. Like everyone I’ve been adversely affected by the effective ban on socialising, but not to a crippling extent; I have the good fortune to be more tolerant of solitude than many people. Indeed, the lockdowns (is that the plural? Should it be locksdown? Not sure) have suited me because they’ve given me more time to write. Of course, contact with writing groups and with the class of writers I lead (or tutor) has mostly been confined to Zoom meetings and email exchanges, but those are much better than no contact at all; and although I’ve had to cancel several storytelling gigs, Zoom has come to the rescue again for several storytelling clubs and open mic gatherings. What results is social interaction, though not as we know it.
Storytelling? Zoom is a welcome substitute but like everyone I miss face to face evenings as well as my own gigs. The pandemic stopped us completing the folktale film project (I’ve audio-recorded the final seven stories we wanted to include but we haven’t been able to do the filming), but most of them are now recorded – pictures of me telling the tales in the appropriate South West Peak locations – and available for free viewing at http://www.peakinthepast.co.uk/folktales.html.
Editing? I keep doing it week by week and thereby earning a crust. Most of it is specialist stuff, interesting mostly to the authors and a few people in the same field. My biggest and most enjoyable editing task, the autobiography on which I started work 18 months ago, is now complete, accepted for publication, and waiting only for publisher and author to agree a release date. It’s been a rewarding job.
The aforementioned class of writers I ‘tutor’? Ah, yes, thereby hangs a gratifying tale. At the end of 2019, FBP launched a nationwide ‘short fantasy horror prose’ competition: write a story inspired by a photograph (large building beside frozen lake, fields of snow, a few chalets, white mountain peaks in the background). I persuaded a few of the class to submit entries, reasoning that it’s good for writers to get out of their comfort zone. In the end we submitted five of our efforts; the competition organisers received well into three figures of stories from around the UK and a few from overseas. After they’d been judged, twenty-five of these pieces were long-listed and will be published next year as an anthology. The twenty-five included three of ours – and one of them won the national second prize. I have the privilege of working with a talented group!
My own writing? Well, my novella The Cat of Doom was published by FBP in August, and the same publisher has accepted my new (or revised/recycled) novel Perilaus II, which is due to be unleashed on the public next year. The historical novel on which I’ve been labouring has progressed to a complete second draft, which I’ve sent for critical feedback to a history professor with expertise on the period of the story. She’s been very generous with her time and guidance but I await her response to my manuscript with some trepidation. I’m not a historian so I’m almost guaranteed to have committed misinterpretations, anachronisms, implausibilities and downright blunders, which I shall have to correct in the third draft. That will be my next major task.
If you want to survey my published fiction work, take a look at my Amazon author page, https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mark-P.-Henderson/e/B00J8NECH2
Future plans? I have other writing projects on the back burner. When the historical novel is sufficiently well revised to submit for publication, I’ll start cooking at least one of them.
Enough for this long-delayed blog. I wish well to everyone who reads it, and may 2021 be a better year for us all.