A Few Things I’m Looking Forward To & Hoping For In 2021
This list isn’t particularly vast and mostly features books I want to read, but it was only several weeks ago that I started to feel a sense of optimism about the future after a very long time with no hope whatsoever. I hope it gives you something anyway, and it would be wonderful to know what you have planned for the months ahead and what you hope will come to fruition.
Despite not being able to write for eleven of the past twelve months, I tried desperately to keep up with some of my writerly habits. One of those habits was reading Mslexia, the writing magazine for women. For almost fifteen years it had played a crucial role in the development of my craft. (If you’re a woman who writes, please drop by the website and have a look around. You can preview the most recent issue. It’s such a phenomenal and affordable resource and it would make me so happy to know of another woman who found their craft evolved because of it.)
I would get my digital copy (they also do print) and, as I’d always done before, read it with my notebook by my side and my pen in hand. But I’d get to the end of a page and be incapable of remembering anything. So I’d start over and try harder to take in what was before me. I never could. It was a tragic situation.
Buying a copy of Mslexia became something I almost started to resent doing. When thing went from bad to worse and I struggled to emerge from under my bed covers, I forgot about the magazine all together.
Now that I’m reading and writing again (I was almost hesitant to write ‘reading and writing again’ in case I jinxed myself) I’m ready to re-introduce it back into my life. The joy, the joy.
Writing A New Book
To have gone for a year and not written a book left me feeling all out of sorts. By the middle of 2020 I’d come to the point where I’d pretty much accepted that I wasn’t going to write another book in my life. My mum and I would sometimes talk about what would happen if my creativity didn’t return. The talks never lasted long and we never found an answer. We’d both just trail off and leave it. They were the saddest, most crushing conversations.
It was about Mid-December when I started to have an inkling that maybe, maybe I’d be able to write a book again. That maybe, maybe 2021 would be the year I’d do it. Now I’m putting down notes for books I’d like to bring into existence this year and next and it feels like the biggest, most glorious ‘fuck you‘ to depression.
Investing More Time Into Photography
I never could have expected that 2020 would see photography become such an important part of my life. Several months ago, if you would have told me that taking photographs of myself would help me to manage my depression, I wouldn’t have believed you.
Now that I’m slowly finding my footing again with the written word, I could probably slow down with the photography and see it not have a negative impact on my mental state. (I’m saying that, but who knows…) But I want to keep this adventure going. I’m curious about what else I can conjure up in my little bedroom studio…and hopefully the wilds of Norway if I get my act together. And I want to see if I can develop and strengthen the self-confidence and better mental health that the taking of photographs in 2020 enabled. There’s also this ever increasing eagerness in my heart to encourage other people to pick up a camera and see where it can take them.
The Art Of The Occult
One of the most gifted writers I know is called Sarah Elizabeth AKA Mlle Ghoul. Her blog Unquiet Things is a place I’ve been getting happily lost in for several years. Every sentence she puts down is meticulously crafted and an utter joy to behold. I always come away from reading one of Sarah’s pieces thinking ‘there’s no conceivable way I could have spent that time any better.’
Her work has a richness to it that’s rare to encounter and which I value tremendously. It’s also refreshing and spirited and strong. When I think of Sarah’s work, I think of other writers who’ve had a monumental impact on my life, whose books have changed the way I look at the world and how I go about my own writing. Writers such as Barry Lopez, Jay Griffiths, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Lionel Shriver and Gretel Ehrlich. She sits at their table.
Sarah also writes at Haute Macabre, and has a YouTube channel where she makes videos that are as addictive as her writing. Last year she published The Art Of The Occult: A Visual Sourcebook For The Modern Mystic and I was fucking elated. I’m waiting for it to arrive from Amazon and when it gets here you’ll know because I’ll probably go quiet for a few days while I devour it.
I was an avid reader of Oh Comely (now Oh Magazine) for ages, and when I found out that some folk involved in it were putting together a magazine about magic, mythology, folklore and the occult I was pretty darn thrilled. I’m a regular visitor to the Cunning Folk website where I find myself occupied for hours reading about the magic we can find all around us. I’m waiting like a hawk for their re-enchantment issue to come back into stock.
Some Other Books & Magazines I’m Excited To Read
The Re-Release Of The Dark Has Teeth
So in April 2020, mine and Meghan Wood’s band Cave Mouth released it’s second album, The Dark Has Teeth. It was created during the few weeks that my creativity decided to show itself, before fucking off for the rest of the year.
It was a very welcome though very unexpected surprise when Non Posse Mori Records came forward and said they wanted to re-release it. As I write this I’m still in a state of disbelief, convinced someone is going to roughly shake me awake and tell me I’d been having the darnedest wildest of dreams.
Visiting My Friend In Svalbard
I met a girl called Cat in Norway back in 2010 when we were both couchsurfing in Stavanger. We bonded over elderflower pancakes and our infatuation for everything Nordic. She’s gone on to have an epic career as a tour manager and settled in Svalbard about five years ago. Despite having only met once since our initial meeting in 2010, I miss this girl something chronic. Ever since she moved, we’ve been saying that I need to go and visit her, and the fact I haven’t made it happen yet is terrible. This year though, this year I’ll set foot in the Arctic, I’ll be reunited with my girl, and I’ll damn well cry when I see a polar bear in the wild, you mark my words.
Getting A One Way Ticket To Norway
2020 was supposed to be the year I moved to Norway. I wanted to be there before the transition period ended and Brexit (fucking boo, I’m still a European) came into force. Evidently it didn’t happen. But I’ve made plans to write a book about my first full Norwegian winter (I had half a Norwegian winter in 2014…oh the Kittelsenesqueness of it all…the goosebumps still gather when I think back to it) so basically it has to happen now. When I commit an idea to my notebook, it’s essentially written in stone.
What I Was Listening To When I Was Writing This