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  • Writer's pictureMike Gould

A time of reckoning

This isn't me in the picture, though it will do as a sort of catch-all for the theme; a time of taking stock, looking at what is ahead, and thinking about what is behind.

It's been a funny sort of year. Of course, I use 'funny' advisedly given the political and social upheavals which have dogged the past twelve months.

I suppose I mean funny in the sense of 'difficult to grasp'. There has been a peculiarity to my writing life that has thrown into question the trajectory it was on. My educational writing has continued apace - more coursebooks, mostly for international students, and the odd revision guide for UK students. But this time last year, my short story 'Clean Nature' was long-listed for the Hastings LitFest Short Story award. It felt like it might be the start of something. I'd always written short stories but this, to go with a winning story for Chichester Writers Group's anthology the year before, seemed to herald a move into prose fiction. This year, too, I finished my fantasy novel, 'Rise of the Andahar' but the lack of success thus far with placing it with an agent had made me question whether I had it in me to produce the longer form.

And then of course came the play. As readers of the blog will know (don't worry - I'll be banging on about it for months to come) I submitted a short play called 'The Summons' to a nationwide call-out by the Directors' Club, operating with Southwark Playhouse, for short dramas to make up a longer piece called 'The Faces of One Day'. Mine was selected, rather to my surprise.

So, for the writer who makes his daily living from educational writing and the odd bit of nonfiction, I'm now taking stock. I have the opportunity to join a network of playwrights in London to pursue the stage work (through the success of 'The Summons') or I can stick to the path I'd set out which was to continue with the short and long-form fiction. I probably don't have time to do both.

I realise this is a first world problem, and a nice one to have. But in fact it speaks to something much more profound, which, for want of a better word, is 'mortality'. I am not a twenty or even thirty year old adventurer standing at the start of a journey, but someone who is perhaps two thirds or three quarters of the way along it. Time is precious. I can't know which path will be a false one, but I think I'll need to choose one rather than the other.

Drama or prose? Short fiction or long-form? Oh - and there's that screenplay I began (unfinished, natch). Plus the second collection of poems (do I have enough to inflict them upon the world?). Hmm.

Perhaps I'll go write a song on the guitar. That's one area where I have no illusions. The way is clear.

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