The 2018 lookback

This is my review of 2018, and the eighteenth year that I’ve filled in this questionnaire at the end of the year. Which means I’m double that age. Also, that I’ve been an adult for as long as I was a child. Good grief…

1. What did you do in 2018 that you’d never done before?

  • Owned a driving licence.
  • Worn boxing gloves.
  • Learned about three words of Scottish gaelic (random chain of thought + anxiety + procrastination on YouTube = fun new discoveries)
  • Felt I’d truly and finally broken free of some difficult former influences. Not all of them entirely, but certainly of the worst one by far. And the others are dead, so they can’t do much from where they are…
  • For one of few years I can recall in my adult life, feel I might be starting to live, more than exist.

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I wanted a functioning business and to send my first book out to agents. Both of which happened, of a fashion. Of course, it’s a little more nuanced than that, but isn’t it always…

Next year I’d like a business that’s still functioning, a permanent home of some sort, to write my second book, to get an agent (more likely with my second book than my first, I’m told…), and to feel like I could fall in love with someone again. Or at least have some more clarity on the future feasibility of all these things…

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? One of my oldest friends had a baby I’ve yet to meet.

4. Did anyone close to you die? My last living grandparent made it to 97.

5. What countries did you visit? Mum and I were treated to a girls’ holiday in Cannes, where we ate and drank ourselves silly. Despite being near the end of September, it was still baking.

6. What would you like to have had in 2018 that you lacked? Only the usual alternate universe where things which have never been simple for me are simple, and where I don’t have to think about Brexit. Or death. Or any alternate universes in which my life could look very different. Getting turned down flat for a Fellowship didn’t bother me in the end as I’ll probably be too busy anyway…

7. What date from 2018 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? The meetings I had when I was setting up my business – less dull than it sounds, I promise. My driving tests (all four of them…). A gin tour near Whitchurch. The week in Cannes. My work visit to Manchester and Liverpool (Loved Liverpool – especially seeing my friend, and having dinner at Down The Hatch). A belated birthday day out with my best friend. A coffee with a writer friend who’s 50 and single and furnished me with much food for thought.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Launching Genuine Copy. Sending my first book to agents. Passing my driving test. Making freelancing start to work for me. The publication of and wonderful response to Finding The Words, a new resource I co-wrote aimed at supporting people bereaved by suicide. And seeing a leading actor holding it on stage with him at a conference, while giving an immensely moving talk about a personal tragedy. Continuing to try and make my body do new and different things without feeling awkward, namely horseriding and kickboxing.

9. What was your biggest failure? I’m entering my third year or thereabouts of internally speculating over whether someone is avoiding meaningful contact with me on purpose or just due to life being life. Relatedly, see also, my love-hate relationship with Twitter.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Most happily, no.

11. What was the best thing you bought?  During the heatwave, after narrowly failing my second driving test and doing worse in my third, I took the train out to a gin distillery in Hampshire and had a guided tour in the afternoon sun, followed by a gin cocktail the size of a human head. It was blissful.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration? Anyone who went out of their way to make a positive difference in the world. Which, happily, is an awful lot of wonderful people I know.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? A veritable shower of politicians.

14. Where did most of your money go? Learning to drive, or into savings.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? An incredibly late invoice for the last of my money from a summer project being paid just before Christmas.

16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2018?

  • Girlfriend by Christine and the Queens.
  • Bones of Ribbon by London Grammar.
  • Star Roving by Slowdive.
  • Red Rain, In Your Eyes, Steam and Big Time by Peter Gabriel who consequently has spent more time in my head this year than I knew any middle-aged married man healthily could.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you…?

– Happier or sadder?  Happier.

– Thinner or fatter?  Similar.

– Richer or poorer?  Richer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Being a confident driver. Being a confident anything.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Procrastinating. Fearing admin. Being mistaken for the wife of people I’m not married to just because I’m A Bit Intense.

20. How will you be spending New Year? I wanted to make my peace with Durham and go back for the first time since my 30th in 2014, but making peace with Durham turned out to be immorally expensive. So my friend is coming here instead. Hurrah!

21. Did you fall in love in 2018? It would be nice to think I could in future without exacerbating a lot of guilt, grief and might-have-beens, and generally undoing the good work of a lot of therapy.

Oh, and on that note: If you think that a single woman in her thirties constitutes a threat to your relationship, maybe try considering she might be single for a whole host of painful reasons, including being in recovery from years of life-limiting anxiety, depression and complicated grief, and would rather swim through a lake of nuclear waste than go on Tinder, let alone go to the effort of stealing anyone’s partner. Also, try ascertaining this information from said woman herself, rather than from other people behind her back. Also, try growing up.

22. How many one-night stands? What, actually, does this really mean? Is it sex that you don’t want to repeat (because it was bad), that you can’t repeat (because it was taboo), or that you can’t quite be bothered to repeat (because you can’t be bothered with a relationship)? I’ve never figured that out. I always thought it was the first. Either way, zero.

23. What was your favourite TV or radio programme? McMafia, Bodyguard, Killing Eve, Informer and Clique.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I try not to hate anyone. But if you think Brexit is a good idea I am ever closer to hating you and find it ever harder to want to know you. Please try to understand why.

25. Do you like anyone now that you didn’t like this time last year? Possibly. I much prefer having been wrong about awful people to awful people being awful. 

26. What was the best book you read? Probably more than one, but I’d single out Small Pieces by Joanne Limburg. Recommended to me as part of the support my Arts Council bursary gave me, and I’m mightily glad it was. Among the best of the considerable amount of writing on suicide bereavement I’ve read. She comes at it from a Jewish sibling perspective, which is not mine. But still so much resonated…

27. What was your greatest musical discovery? For “great” as in “greatly embarrassing I didn’t know before”, I discovered Mabel is Neneh Cherry’s daughter.

28. What did you want and get?  My driving licence. How confidently I use it remains to be seen…

29. What did you want and not get? A literary agent.

30. What was your favourite film of this year? As usual, I wanted to see more films than I went to see.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I was 34 in mid-June, when it was hot but just before the big mad heatwave. There was a family trip to Kenwood House.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Less paralysing anxiety over admin and emails.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2018?  Dressing up for the evening in Cannes to noughties pop I hated when I supposed to like it was fun.

34. Who kept you sane? If you’ve read this far, almost certainly you. Well done.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? If you wouldn’t give Paddy Considine or Keeley Hawes the night of their lives, what are you even doing in my life.

36. What political issue stirred you the most? Guess…

37. Who did you miss? If you need to know, you probably do.

38. Who was the best new person you met? If you’re reading this and we met this year, probably you.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2018:  These three years of weekly therapy have been a great idea…

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up 2018:

“Here am I, home at last with a golden view / Looking for hope, and I hope it’s you / Splitting my heart, cracked right in two / The pleasure of pain endured to purify our misfit ways and magnify our crystal days…” Crystal Days, Echo and the Bunnymen

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WHY CATCH A MOVING TRAIN? A short story monologue

I entered this story for the Mslexia Short Story Competition early last year, then got too busy writing my book and with work to do anything else with it, but have intermittently been encouraged to share it somewhere. Like a lot of my writing, it centres around difficult conversations and people’s difficult relationships with technology. Unlike many of my stories, the main character isn’t an outsider or a misfit, but a confident woman gradually being confronted with self-doubt and discomfort due to a series of losses, having built a successful career in an era and environment where those things weren’t allowed openly.

The writing was part-inspired by a hungover heart-to-heart the morning after a wedding I went to. One of the other guests I’d met the night before talked about how being a parent of young children meant she felt she had no choice but to try to “park” complicated feelings, like her recent grief, for later. Something I probably already knew on a surface level but which, for obvious reasons, hadn’t occurred to me directly.

It might be of note, too, that this was all first written a good half-year before the Weinstein story broke and #MeToo kicked off. While it isn’t a story about non-consensual sex, the parts describing eighties and nineties work culture, and the underlying themes of hidden sides to powerful men, and how their choices affect women, warranted a few topical pauses when I re-read it. Would I have written it differently in the light of #MeToo? Dunno.

I’d be glad to know if you like it. I don’t need to know if you don’t. Unless you hate it so much you want to move to Guatemala and never speak to me again. Which would be sad. And probably a bit of an overreaction. Here it is…:

(Content Note: if you’re in the very immediate stages of grief or a relationship breakdown, depending what helps or not, this might not be the thing for you at the moment…).

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“So, are you looking forward to university…?”

In honour of A Level results day, here’s a teeny, tiny excerpt from the second chapter of my book, CLEVER STUPID, which is currently on submission. It’s 2003. I’m about to leave for university in the distant north, and having farewell tea in a five-star hotel in Marylebone with an older alumnus, a TV actress whose career has seen considerably better days. Having spent much of the past year doing little else besides having a breakdown and unsuccessfully learning to drive (which it would be another fifteen years before I eventually cracked…), I am not half as excited for my new life as I should be. Or even a bit as excited, really…

Yes, it’s a memoir; yes, everything in the book happened to me. Names and identifiers have been changed/obscured. Crimes against fashion have not…

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I did it…

…and, unless I sit my Maths GCSE a third time, or have to rewrite my whole book because no-one wants to publish it, it’ll probably be the hardest single thing I’ll ever do. But I knew it would be, and acceptance was half the battle. I was diagnosed with dyspraxia at 21 in 2005. Early on during the assessment, I was asked whether I could drive and whether I’d found learning difficult or frustrating (“Does the Pope pray?” “Is Boris Johnson a pillock?”). All bar one dyspraxic person I’ve ever met has said they found it hard or impossible to learn, and the one anomaly was a master of fake bravado (he later died – bad mental health, not bad driving…). In 2011, during my happiest spell as a journalist, I wrote an article for the Daily Telegraph about dyspraxia and driving; then had to explain patiently to many people that despite it, I hadn’t actually cracked said milestone myself. I took blocks of lessons during my teens and twenties but was curtailed by multiple moves, lack of money and sporadic levels of enthusiasm for driving, and life. Of the five instructors I had age 17-24, only one got me anywhere near to a test. My first could barely get me into third gear and I didn’t drive again until two years later. Two were barely in their twenties. The older one tried to tickle my ribs as I drove down Durham’s main dual carriageway. I learned on Saturday mornings during my first graduate job and gave up because I was far too tired and consequently far too dangerous.

My iron determination to try again and finally see it through kicked in after I ran the London Marathon two years ago. A few people seemed to enjoy the diary I kept here during the training so I thought I could similarly keep one of my learning to drive. But, while it’s normal to publicly celebrate running a Marathon, driving is…well, leaving it late or finding it hard’s not really something you’re supposed to talk about, is it? Like admitting you’re bad at sex, or struggling to get pregnant. Or grieving (You should totally talk about those, by the way. I’ll help you do it). More importantly, though, learning to drive is really quite dull. The basics can come fairly soon, even to a dyspraxic, especially if you’ve driven before. After that it’s just endlessly, boringly making new mistakes and repeating old ones for a long, long time until you get there. I’d expected it would probably take me two or three tests and 12 to 18 months of lessons to pass. It took me fifteen months to drive to test standard, another four months to book a test, and after another four months I still hadn’t passed. I failed the first due to two epic nervous brain farts at the beginning, with just two other minors. The second test a month later was infinitely more pleasant and I thought I’d done well, only to discover I’d failed for wrongly using the left-only lane at a roundabout, and not looking left before turning right at a junction where I thought there was only unused industrial land that side. After the third, another month on, I came back and lay face down on the grass for half an evening. Now well into worse-case scenario territory, I decided it might just help if I expected to pass next time rather than hedging my bets, and tried to put it to the back of my mind rather than overthink every permutation of test route. My driving instructor who overthinks and takes his job nerdily seriously (funny how we got on…) has spent two years emphasising the importance of keeping a positive attitude to driving. He would praise lessons where I had a serious fault but exuded confidence over those where I made no mistakes but drove as if I was driving through Pyongyang in a New York taxi. Sure enough, being quietly confident about my next test – quietly being about about as good as it gets – did seem to make the run up feel easier.

And so, attempt number four. The test centre was much less busy than on previous visits – a big help to begin with. Driving test centres, you may recall, have the combined atmosphere of a hospital wing and the worst places you’ve ever temped. There are lots of signs imploring you to relax and, usually, lots of smart, under-confident young girls being comforted by their gormless, over-confident older boyfriends. Everyone sits in the waiting room nervous-laughing and deep-breathing as they wait for the examiners to come down in their high-vis jackets and call out the names. I was first up, and remembered the examiner from my second test – another good sign. (“We’ve met,” I said, a bit too eagerly. He remembered I was “A writer of some sort.” I remembered he was called Ian). The cardinal rule of driving tests everyone tells you is not to worry about things you think you’ve failed for as you go along. Guess what, this is easier when you’re not on your fourth test during a heatwave. I hoped that I’d be given parallel parking as my manoeuvre, which I am inexplicably very good at, thanks to the one good instructor I had in my youth who made me practice it for an hour at a time. I hadn’t had it on any of the previous tests, so it was likely. Instead, I was told we were going to do the manoeuvre first and do a bay park in the car park – my least favourite manoeuvre and possibly least favourite anything. “God, I’m sorry, I’ve lost this, how many go’s am I allowed?” I said, convinced I’d already failed and strangling the urge to run out of the car weeping before we’d even left the test centre. But then I remembered my instructor’s advice to me umpteen times that manoeuvres are very difficult to fail for. Examiners are lenient with them as most people cock them up simply due to nerves, especially if you have to do one first thing.

The drive seemed a mixed bag. Definitely some comfortable stretches, definitely some Moments. I was convinced I’d failed for at least one other thing, possibly a couple. I faffed about a bit trying to change lanes early on. Later, a car came flying uphill at me just as I’d passed a give way line on the blind spot of a notoriously dangerous winding road where no-one who wants to live should attempt the speed limit. I yelled something plaintive and was told politely but firmly to STFU and concentrate. There’s a small mosque on the outskirts of town and I had to drive up a street rammed with Friday lunchtime worshippers. (No racism from the passenger side, however. Hooray!). Further up, I had to pull in close behind a car because of an illegally parked van obstructing the road and was convinced I hadn’t left enough room or would be marked down for being prompted to reverse back/edge forward/generally stay calm. I knew the point at which we were going back to the test centre, and those last few minutes passed by uneventfully. I waited in the driver’s seat, slugging from my water bottle and trying not to look across. Ian did not seem especially as if he was about to impart good news. He seemed as if he was sweating and wanted to go home, which, strangely enough, I could empathise with.

“Well, Maxine, that’s the end of the test…”

I waited for the “I’m afraid/I”m sorry…”

“And I’m pleased to tell you that you’ve passed.”

I’m afraid it all went very X Factor and weepy for a moment.

“How many minors did I get?” I asked, when I could speak. I got seven, mostly for the bay park – as many as I had in the other three tests combined. You’re allowed up to fifteen minors on one test, the average is 8-10. They’re all indicated on your test report. “Have a look; but no need to dwell on them,” he added – the sign of someone who either knows me too well or not at all.

That was last week. Since then, I’ve had one very jittery little drive with a scared mum and a few much more pleasant little ones with a less-scared dad, where I realised my seat had probably been too far forward the first time (slow clap Max). My instructor left me with two pieces of advice: To self-monitor my dyspraxia (Essentially, don’t drive when tired, angry or hungry. You know, like everyone else on earth) and to push myself beyond easy familiar routes. I’m torn between thinking it’s perfectly OK to be a timid local driver forever, and agreeing with him that I have not put all this time and money into learning just to tootle to Tesco and back. After other milestones – degrees, diplomas, shortlistings – I haven’t always had the confidence to unlock the doors those milestones were supposed to open, and it wasn’t until I ran the Marathon at the age of 32 that I really learned to appreciate the magnitude of something I’d done. I don’t want to repeat the past with driving. Speaking of running, I have wondered whether a similarly methodical approach to driving would help, building up to more ambitious drives in a similar way my training plan built me up to running more ambitious distances.

Next up, I have a motorway lesson in September (I’ve already had one as the law very recently changed to allow learners on), and probably another night lesson as the nights draw in (I’ve driven in darkness before but I can’t even remember whether it was this winter or last…). I am old enough now to know there’s a pattern to my achievements: One, I can go into an anticlimactic slump afterwards. This needs to be carefully contained so that it doesn’t go on for months (Or, indeed, years. Hello 2011-14). Two, I daftly make a mental note of those who haven’t been in touch to congratulate me for it, as well as the 100-odd people who have, including people I haven’t spoken to in decades, and The Dyspraxia Foundation. In this instance, the people who haven’t made contact haven’t because they’re dead (definitely), or on holiday (probably). Nothing much to be done about either, is there? As I said on Twitter recently, I’m not just happy about passing my driving test for what it is. I’m happy because it’s the first achievement in all my adult life I haven’t clouded by wishing someone would and/or could get in touch. At least, not to the point any pleasure is removed from it. This feels rather lovely. Oh, and now I have a free hour to spend applying for this and a spare £162 a month not to spend on lessons and tests. That feels rather lovely too. See you on the road… 

Also, if you have recommendations of any advice/resources aimed at new drivers who aren’t teenagers, please sling them my way!

April, month of Absolutely Everything

Gosh, it’s been a bit of a while since I was here last, hasn’t it. A busy while.

And so, we go live to April, the home of big feelings, anniversaries and so on (see also, July, November, Christmas, my birthday. Basically I’m a cucumber with legs and a face throughout most of any given year now. But April’s the daddy of them all…). Despite my best intentions to space events out, everything has converged around the last fortnight of the month like an annual blue-arsed fly convention. Maybe being incredibly busy and incredibly knackered seems a good way of handling things to you; maybe it doesn’t. Whatever. I am it, and I am – touch wood – doing well.

Late-April is exactly seven years since I last saw two people I knew separately alive in the same week. We had an early heatwave and an imminent Royal Wedding then too. Late-April also means it’s two years since I ran the London Marathon (no heatwave then, thank God. In fact, it was bloody freezing, which was OK for me. Not so much for my poor parents who had to stand and watch for 5 hours after they’d just come back from four months in the southern hemisphere…).

As I recently said on Twitter, recent years have basically represented me going through what anyone goes through when faced with the possibility of losing/not having things which our society assumes/expects you inherently get/keep. You make your own normality. In January, probably the most important piece of work I’ve written in years was finally signed off, after two years of back and forth and will-it-ever-happen. It very much did, and the feedback has been very much great. At the same time, having spent the better chunk of 2016 running huge distances and the better chunk of 2017 writing and editing my book, I arrived at the “Shall I spend 5K in relocation costs in order to take a two-year contract job at a department which may not even exist in a years’ time, or invest half that money into my business to make it better instead?” crossroads, and I chose the latter, relaunching my business with a stronger identity and focus. So, say hello to Genuine Copy. I’ve kept meaning to blog about it here and not done it – my website will speak for itself soon, when it fully goes live. If you know me well, I’ve probably already told you something about it, and you’ve probably said something lovely and encouraging. Thank you!

This month I was also chosen as one of fifty “rare minds” to attend RARE London’s two-day masterclass, designed for mid-career people in the creative industries and aimed at encouraging greater diversity in those industries. As a freelancer I was awarded a scholarship place next to people who’d had theirs paid for by the likes of YouTube, Google and Saatchi & Saatchi, which was extra rewarding. It couldn’t have been a better first outing for my business, or a better illustration of what said business is about.

What else? Early next month, all being well, I’m sending my book out to a first batch of agents. And being generally eager to discover what the next few months will bring, on every front….

Oh, and did I mention the small matter of my driving test? I postponed booking it for at least six months, and have been postponing taking it for at least the last four months.  But I’m doing it this time. INCREDIBLY soon. For definite.

At some point in all this, I might manage a drink and a little lie down. With you, if you’re so inclined (Ahem, the drink, not the lie down. I am slightly more discerning on that front…).

 

Helpful places that could do with your help this Christmas

Dear writers, journalists and whoever,

If you’re lucky enough to be in the position that you and your friends have everything you need and don’t have to worry too much about money, giving to charity instead of buying Christmas presents is a lovely idea. As my (probably) last blog post of 2017, below are some great causes I have given time or money to in the past, and/or which have helped me in difficult times, that you might like to consider helping. If you know me but not well enough to see me or buy me anything for Christmas, I would also be very honoured if you would donate to any of them in my name.

A disclaimer: I can be cautious about cheerleading too much for any one organisation, as different people’s experiences of using the same one for support can be very varied. However, if you use a service as a vulnerable person and get someone unhelpful it’s always worth persevering and asking for someone else. I had a so-so experience with Cruse Bereavement Care and another extremely helpful one when I reluctantly went back three years later. While I wish I hadn’t needed it twice, the support I got the second time was amongst the best I’ve ever had for anything.

Here’s the list…

Mental health support

As well as national charities Mind, Heads Together, Rethink, Young Minds and The Mental Health Foundation consider donating to small local charities providing counselling and therapy for free or at reduced rates, such as Number 22 in Berkshire. While the Samaritans do great work for a lot of people, their volunteers aren’t trained mental health professionals. With NHS services thin to the bone at the moment, local dedicated charities are pretty much the only qualified support available to anyone who can’t afford anything from £50 to £500 an hour to see a therapist. They need all the money they can get. Organisations that train people in mental health first aid and suicide prevention are worth your time too.

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) are specifically a male suicide prevention charity I do volunteering bits for, and they’re lovely. Their helpline also uses trained counsellors.

Support for people on low income 

  • Trussell Trust – the main provider of food banks in the UK.
  • Shelter and StreetLink  for homelessness.
  • Arts Emergency – An alternative to old-school-tie networks, supporting young people from underrepresented backgrounds making a living in the creative arts.
  • Regional writing organisations provide Arts Council bursaries to talented low-income writers – the Free Word Centre has more information and links – they are also office neighbours with the lovely TLC, who’ve supported me.

Human rights 

  • Reprieve – Provides free legal and investigative support to those facing torture, execution, rendition and extrajudicial killing or imprisonment.

Bereavement support

Woman-focused organisations

  • Refuge – support for women affected by domestic violence, including gift parcels for families spending Christmas in refuges.
  • Women’s Equality Party. What it says on the tin. You can join if you’re a member of another party.
  • Bloody Good – offers sanitary products to those who can’t afford them, including refugees, and campaigns to end period poverty.

Other organisations close to my heart

  • The Dyspraxia Foundation are the only national UK charity supporting people with dyspraxia.
  • Bliss supports premature babies and their families. I bumped into one of their trustees by chance when I was a spectating at this year’s London Marathon and told him I was one. That was a nice conversation.

Thank you for reading and have a lovely Christmas.

An little update on my book’s journey

(…for some reason I always imagine “journey” said in an elongated Scouse accent although I’ve never heard any actual Liverpudlians say it – and I used to watch Brookside unironically…).

Book feedback – the first set of editorial notes on my first ever completed manuscript – came through a couple of weeks ago and, as you may have gathered, I haven’t taken myself off across the country and locked myself in a Premier Inn for several days crying as per my worse-case. i.e, it was more good than bad. Not only good but very encouraging and at times even profoundly moving. A book report is something of a combination of editorial feedback and a therapy session – helpful if, like me, you’re an old hand at both.  Like an editor in journalism or copywriting, the reader will have tastes, instincts and market awareness. Like a therapist, they won’t explicitly tell you what to do. They’re just there to ask questions in order to draw out what they see as being important from what you present to them. It’s likely there are things you need to do to make things better that you’re too tired to fix and having someone else point them out, along with what’s working well, will help.

My reader has had some remarkably similar life experiences to me around invisible disability and grief, which she shared beautifully. She especially related to what I expressed in the book regarding both, about having a tendency to over-explain myself in order to be better understood and more believed, and the sad irony that it sometimes seems to repel the very people it most wants to convince. Being of a different generation (She’s a boomer; I’m a Xennial, apparently, FYI) she was also particularly interested in the aspects of the book relating to the internet and online friendships (and the way modern technology particularly indulges the thirsty temptation to keep plugging away the more you sense someone withdrawing from you…). She feels that the relationship between my dyspraxia and the internet/blogging/social media could be the book’s timeliest selling point.

There are still a couple of problem areas I need to look at before it’s ready to go out to agents; hopefully fairly early next year. My reader and I both agree on what they are and why they exist. So with that I will resist the temptation to write more about writing and actually get on with doing the edits. Things all got a bit poignant on Saturday night when I was mulling over a new edit schedule while watching the film Spike Island on BBC2. (Read the book and you’ll know why…).

In other “life goals now scarily and excitingly closer to real” news, I’ve booked my driving test for early February. Similarly, I would rather get on with prepping for the test and training for the Berlin Half Marathon right now than write about it, but I expect I will at some point before it happens (not 11pm the night before, ideally…). Less of the Christmas, more of the 2018 please…

As an old friend used to say: