That was the month that was: January 2021

This is not the post I originally wrote for my January round up. I foolishly broke one of my own cardinal rules of blogging and wrote the first version directly into WordPress rather than writing it in Scrivener and then pasting it afterwards. The reason you should do that is because when WordPress decides to glitch so hard on posting a scheduled post that not only does the post become uneditable and stuck in a weird limbo state, whatever has happened to it prevents the text being highlighted so you can’t just copy and paste it into a new post. Instead you have to rewrite the whole thing if you want to post anything at all.

So this is the second version of the post, written once I’d stopped wanting to hide under the blankets and pretend the rest of the world didn’t exist. Which, to be fair, was pretty much how I felt for the whole of January anyway; still in lockdown, stuck with weather that was greyer and more miserable than my mood (which was quite a feat), and the rest of the world seemed to be continuing with the 2020 theme of attempting to fit a years worth of news into every month. It’s getting harder and harder to keep the brain weasels from wreaking havoc in my head space with every passing day.

However there have been some good things mixed into this month. For a start both my parents received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and neither of them had bad reactions to it, which is brilliant. I know they’ll not be fully protected until they get their second dose (which will be at the start of April if the government uphold their promise to provide them within 12 weeks) but it’s a massive step in the right direction. I have no idea when I’ll get vaccinated myself but I am hopeful that it won’t take too long; they both need to start getting out and about again but I know they won’t do it if there’s a risk they could pass it to me before I’ve been jabbed too. At least it gives us a point of light at the end of this particular tunnel which is not an oncoming train!

The other joyful thing which I haven’t already mentioned in my other blog posts is that I got to watch two theatre productions this month. The Old Vic repeated both Lungs (Claire Foy and Matt Smith) and Faith Healer (Michael Sheen, Indira Varma, and David Threlfall) via their In Camera programme and so I got to spend time watching some of my favourite actors in two very interesting plays AND there were subtitles. It was wonderful.

Lungs was a hard watch because of the subject matter of the play but, intense as it was, it provided a release of sorts and the tears that Claire wrung from me at the end were very cathartic. I surprised myself by being happy with the outcome despite the fact that the relationship was built on a foundation of unfaithfulness of one of the party and I’m normally entirely unforgiving of such actions. I suspect that the speed of the play and the fact it was these two actors which swung it!

Faith Healer was mesmerising. Writing a play utilising the rashomon effect and built around a concept that is nebulous and divisive even before you add three very unreliable narrators to the mix and you have the recipe for a powerful and unnerving theatre experience. It left me unsettled, with a head full of images that continue to pop into my minds eye when I have a quiet moment, and with far more questions than answers. In all honesty I cannot say that it is a play I would want to see again and again (although I expect seeing it again would tease out new and different strands that it wouldn’t be possible to find the first time simply because of the way it is structured) but it was certainly great theatre and I found Indira’s performance exceptionally compelling.

My creative writing has also been going well. At the end of last year I committed myself to doing Susan Dennard’s Story A Month challenge and – by the skin of my teeth – got a full first draft finished by the end of the month. It is very much a first draft but it has a beginning, a middle, and an end plus a match-making wolf and a picture perfect witches cottage so it made me happy. I also continued my rebuild of the magical system in my Arthurian retellings (which is slow going but really necessary) and began to reshape the short story I’ve pitched to an anthology which I hope, when finished, will be good enough to be included.

So despite the month generally feeling like I was wading through used dishwater, it did have its bright spots after all. Now let’s see what February has to offer.

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