In many ways I should look back on 2013 as a shit year. It challenged me in ways I could never have imagined. But in reality, I think it was actually a really good year. The universe decided to throw everything it possibly could against me… and it lost.
Leggedon was a defining moment and I surprised myself with how I reacted. If I’m being honest, I would have pegged myself as someone who when faced with overwhelming adversity would have turned away. But I didn’t (probably more out of stupidity than courage), and in doing so discovered some inner strength I didn’t know I had.
This came at the same time as a second draft of the sequel to Four Realms seemed to collapse on me. As much as I like to use fate, destiny and divine providence as a storytelling device, it’s not something I really believe in. But if the fates really wanted to try and stop me in my tracks they made a bloody good attempt in 2013. But I still won.

I won’t refer to them as dark days because I know what depression is, and I wasn’t depressed, I was just trying to deal with everything. It was a case of taking one step and then another, surviving day to day. I had to think clever to manage everything I needed to do (from food to pills, to exercise, to aftercare) and this fed into my writing where I completely overhauled my writing process to great success (although I will hold off proclaiming that too loudly until this 200k word test novel is finished). It wasn’t always easy but I’m proud of the inner strength I found. I end the year a slightly different person to the one I started the year with, and I’m still finding my feet.
My love of geocaching was what drove me on during the recovery. The desire to get back and doing it again (even if that did go slightly against Doctor’s orders) pushed me to build up the leg. Two weeks after attempting my first circuit since the accident 4/5 months prior, I went out and set a new personal best for solo caching, just three caches off my best day ever. Anyone will tell you that 28 miles is a hell of a walk, any cacher will tell you that doing over 100 in a day is more than impressive, but 133 solo is pretty much legendary (& let’s not forget, I had a 6” hole in my leg and was bandaged up as if the task wasn’t hard enough). I don’t think it was the UK solo record but I don’t think it was that far off. Unsurprisingly that accomplishment buoyed me for the rest of the year. If Leggedon was my fall, then that was my triumphant return.
Records did come a month later when Westie and I went out and did 160 finds in a day over 30 miles. It lasted for about two weeks before someone went out and beat it, but that’s the nature of records. They are there to be broken.
I also went out 6 days from the shortest day of the year and soloed over 100 caches (46 of them I was the first to find , which adds to the difficulty and therefore the prestige). Six months after twice nearly losing the leg I am one of the top endurance cachers in the UK. I’m still fat (although a lot less so), slow and can’t climb trees (I doubt I’ll be breaking any 5/5 difficulty rating records anytime…ever), but I have to have something to build upon next year.
All this has given me a lot of confidence and I end the year feeling a lot taller than I did at the start. As a result, I’m less tolerant of idiots and arseholes and I suspect I’ll probably need to mellow a little next year. In the past, because I’m so amenable, I find friends have been quick to lay blame at me. Sometimes it’s warranted, other times it’s not. Not putting up with other people’s shit anymore has been a bit of a surprise to some and it’s already damaged some friendships. There’s part of me that says if they can’t deal with it, they’re not really friends, but at the same time I don’t want to get to the stage where I will not even entertain the possibility that I am the one at fault.
I started the year with The Four Realms being better received than I honestly thought it would be. I’ve also found out that for a small press book it’s done pretty well, so I should be proud of that. It did really well in the recent free book promotion and managed to get to #16 in the Horror charts. I’m not sure how much that means in the big scheme of things (I’m not about to go around calling myself a bestselling author just yet), but I am genuinely grateful for everyone’s help.
Being a published author felt weird and I started the year feeling a bit of a fraud. I end it not really caring (in a good way) how legitimate a writer other people consider me. I would have liked to have had another book out this year but I had a lot to deal with. I think I’ve got the process stuff sorted now and can work at churning out novels without sacrificing quality. I guess we’ll see in 2014. The book I’m just finishing to test the process is AMAZING! It needs a lot of editing but oh God, it’s so good. Of course, I am biased. I just hope someone picks it up. As for The Thieving King, work on next draft begins shortly after I finish this book but I think the radical changes I’m planning to make will keep the core story intact whilst solving the issues I had with the previous two drafts. It’ll be a much better book for it and it was kick-ass to start with.
2013 also saw me make a major change in my gaming. I was unimpressed with the next gen consoles and made the decision to go PC. It was a controversial decision and I think I pissed off some friends with my next gen console complaints but six months on I still think it was the right decision for my gaming. I plan to game more in 2014 (if only to justify how much I spend in the Steam sales) but focus more on smaller titles.
I had two resolutions for 2013. The first was to complete The Thieving King which I failed to do. The second was to read what I wanted. I managed to do that one at least and read quite diversely (even if I’m still a stupidly slow reader).
And so looking forward to 2014, I have one resolution. I want to make mistakes. And by that, I don’t mean I want to fuck up. I mean I want take sensible risks, to stretch myself as both a person and a writer. That means sometimes getting it wrong. I don’t want the thought of regret holding me back, so I give myself permission to make errors next year so long as I take care not to hurt myself or others.
With any luck, this time next year I’ll be talking about two new books, with at least one other in the works. And I want my solo geocaching challenge to be dwarfed by what I have planned for 2014. Who knows though? The universe is a funny old place at times.