Hello hello, and back I come.
I felt sorry to break a relatively decent streak of regular blogposts for yet another undefined hiatus, but this time I actually had a half-decent excuse for my absense.
For the first time since 2019, I was able to return to the boards and get back on the Oxford amdram scene – after one year of COVID-enforced absence, and another more COVID-wobbly year in which my chronic pain was still ascendant enough to keep me indoors, it felt so damn good to finally get back into it. I played Horatio in a two-week run of Hamlet in the scenic backdrop of Oxford Castle’s courtyard, and it was such a brilliant experience. Beyond the gorgeous weather (summery but not up to the obscene roasting we’ve had this last fortnight, and the only smidgeons of rain graciously tailing off before each performance started) and the incredible people I was acquainted (or reacquainted) with, it was simply such a joy to get back in the world; a world of socialising, hanging out in pubs after rehearsals and performance days, of simply getting into the world and meeting new people… after 3 years of an unnervingly undefined purgatory, it was the balm I never knew I’d needed.
The expected post-show slump, that you always get at the end of these things, didn’t hit me quite so hard as I’d feared. Nevertheless, with my job still going smoothly and the rotten state of Denmark behind me, I’ve been anxious to throw myself into another big project to drive away the ennui. I found my pain a lot more manageable during the play and heatwave than I’d expected – almost as if, dare I say, it’s on the gradual way out – so after two play-filled weeks of no exercise and mainlining wine gums, I’ve made a renewed effort to get back into the gym again and make that habit. (Hardly a major accomplishment – the nearest gym is a 5 minute drive away, and I get a discount membership through my work.)
But beyond that, after fuck knows how many months of idle talk and flip-flopping over it, I’m finally getting back to writing once more. I am a Prologue and 2 Chapters into Prince of Knaves, and am pretty happy with how they’ve shaped up, but I’ve still got a mountain of research and planning to go before I can really get to grips with the novel. To be brutally honest, that’s more work and energy than I feel I can give to it currently – doing it once was hard enough when it was literally the only thing in my life, let alone now when I have actual adult responsibilities to juggle.
Which hardly matters, anyway, because as anyone who’s been following the last few posts knows, I’ve found a whole new writing project to distra… um, inspire myself. As again I may have mentioned, it will be a retelling of Jason and the Argonauts’ quest to steal the Golden Fleece from Colchis, with the working title Shadow of the Prow. The main PoV character will be no other than Heracles himself, first and last of the heroes of Ancient Greece, the mightiest – and, paradoxically, the most human – son of Zeus.
The idea has been bubbling in my head for long enough now (god knows there’s enough inspiration in the literary world at the moment), with the plot, characters, and progression slowly taking shape these last few weeks as I’ve read more sources and made more notes. Greek mythology and folklore is such a different beast to Roman history – I’d argue it’s both more and less prescriptive – and I’ve honestly relished the change, having a whale of a time cherry-picking shards and references of ancient stories like a demented Russo brother, assembling the most batshit insane Marvel film of all time.
As well as a half-completed outline I’ve also more or less written the first 3.5 Chapters in barely-legible black scrawl, and I’d love to say it was long and arduous process, but the truth is… it practically poured out of me. Doubtless I’ve jinxed the whole thing with this very sentence, but I think this novel might actually get written quite quickly.
At the moment it’s going to be a standalone – the thought of juggling two Ancient series is more than I can contemplate, frankly – but I’m sure there could be scope for a follow-up down the line, or two. Heracles still has quite the journey after the Fleece makes it home, after all. Arguably his biggest adventures lie beyond that point.
I defy anyone to make sense of any of that.
I’ll probably post a few more titbits about Shadow in the next few weeks as I make some more headway with it – I’m coming close to the big 3500 on my hit counter, so I may put up the blurb as some sort of reward. Just have to write the bloody thing first.
So there. Now you have the thrilling tale of what I did this summer.
Are we done here? We’re done here.
Now leave me alone. x