A new year calls for resolutions. Mine, as usual, is to strive to write better prose. I had fallen into something of a rut of complacency towards the end of last year. I’d had considerably more short stories published than the previous year (thanks to my marvellous agent), and although the small press publisher of my novel The Belfast Boy had folded before the promised publication I had another novel ‘in the bag’ and was feeling pretty confident that one of these literary masterpieces would soon be snapped up. I sent The Belfast Boy to a couple of agents and, while their feedback wasn’t entirely discouraging, none of them seemed keen to snap. It seemed there was something missing from my novel, but I didn’t know what it was. So I decided I needed some disinterested expert advice, and just as I came to that decision I received news that Claire Wingfield, a freelance editor, had recently established a literary consultancy that (for a fee) would critique my work. So I sent off my manuscript to Claire and received exactly the kind of honest, impartial advice I needed. Her comments were invaluable not only for the specific piece I had sent her, but also to the other novel I had been working on. As a result, both that novel and The Belfast Boy have now been ‘parked’ while I contemplate. The big question I have to ask myself is whether I really want to invest the time and energy that writing a new novel requires when I have so much more success with writing short stories.
Food for thought . . .