When one door closes another may open

This last fortnight there has been a sense of one door closing behind me.  A lot of this has to do with writing as well as events in the UK leaving me with a feeling of – not helplessness but certainly being limited in what I can do.  Several people we care about have suffered losses or awful accidents and we can only send virtual love and let them know we care.  We knew when we moved we were leaving for good.  That door was firmly closed behind us as we sold up, gave away possessions and looked towards something different.  Different we certainly got.  There are many small differences in Ireland – it is not just “England with a funny accent”.

Adjusting to these differences can be enjoyable.  The space around us is utterly liberating.  People are very friendly in the main as well as curious about our lives and choices.  A lot of people know our names even after meeting only once. The weather is wetter but milder than the north of England, the occasional “100 year” freeze excepted.  There are more public (bank) holidays and life is generally more relaxed. Spring comes earlier and is exceptionally beautiful.  As the UK door closed another opened for us.

It is harder to adjust to some differences.  Roads are generally narrow and can be in very poor repair, which doesn’t stop some drivers speeding heedlessly round blind bends.  Especially one particular bin firm who trumpet their green credentials.  I’ve written about the infrastructure before – or lack of it.  Whilst it holds up (just about) there are numerous power cuts out here which can be disastrous for any IT work.  Light, heat, cooking facilities, internet, television and water can all vanish in a second.  Would we swop our new life for the relative stability of services in the UK? No. Even if there’s no weekend post, some courier deliveries never arrive and breakdown services are totally useless.

I have felt one door closing this last month and it is hard to see one opening, though we will try.  When my publishers declared bankruptcy last year I hoped I would be able to rescue my books and republish them myself.  I did manage the rescue and thanks to a couple of very good friends will have the remaining copies soon.  The republishing is more problematic.  No publisher is likely to touch an existing series for all kinds of reasons.  Self publishing, done properly is actually very complex and the alternatives can be expensive.  There are all the problems associated with publicity – bad enough for a small publisher but almost impossible for an individual. And then I encountered something unexpected and potentially disastrous.

Many self-published writers rely heavily on local, independent bookshops.  Good for readings, signings and spreading the word.  Only now, following Covid, several of the largest distributors of books are gone.  The main firm left does not supply small bookshops as it’s not “economically viable”.  Big, mainstream stores focus on best-seller lists and sales figures from – you guessed it – this distributor.  If they don’t supply the small independent shops it can be impossible to get that “foot in the door” to attract the large booksellers. There’s still Amazon, of course, but not much else.

The second door that closed last month came as a result of the shaky electrical supply.  We have lost four computers since moving, mainly due to repeated power failures and fluctuations in supply.  I have been working on another Alex Hastings book, number 6, and had written almost half when my PC crashed.  I was sure I had saved the file – I email myself and put the work onto USB sticks regularly.  However, after removing the hard drive and running it as an external I found it was blank. 

Several frantic searches through email and USBs also came up blank.  I have the first 18,000 words – and nothing more.   On top of everything else it feels as if the last 10 years work may have been for nothing.  I’m hoping to publish “A Long Shadow” (Alex Hastings 5) this year but at the moment I feel this may be the last in the series.  I’ll keep you posted.

Trying to be positive, as this door closes maybe another opens.  Hunting through the USBs I found a lot of earlier writing including two partly written novels.  A lot of the research and notes were also there.  I am quite hopeful I can pick up and carry on, polishing my earlier efforts as I go.  And I am already working on “Seeking Schroeder”, the second book in the “Puppy Brain” trilogy.  So, I’ve not given up, even as one door closes.  It’s just a bit hard to get going again.

So, thank you for reading and all good wishes for a happy few weeks.  Enjoy the coronation if that’s your thing.  Or enjoy the day’s holiday anyway.  Tomorrow is May Day and a national holiday here so I’m taking mine early!

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