What Are You Writing Next?

My other (Polish) great great uncle was an artist.

The very first question that an audience member asked me, at the very first event I did for my new book about my murdered Leeds Irish great great uncle and what came after (in Blackwell's, in Edinburgh, as it happens) was 'What are you working on next?' I was tempted to say 'I don't have a scoobie' because that would have been the absolute truth.

It was a very hot night. Lovely friends had lent me their apartment, otherwise the event would have cost me a fortune. Edinburgh in July is not the cheapest place to stay. And because it was such a very hot night, only twelve people turned up to hear me speak about A Proper Person to be Detained.  Fortunately, if you click on the above link, you can read all about the book, since the Books From Scotland website very kindly asked me to do a question and answer piece about it.

The Ayrshire launch of the book, a couple of weeks later, was extremely well attended - many thanks to all those who ventured out on another very hot night! - and Waterstones sold out of copies, which was even better. There are more events to come. If you click on my events page, to the right of this post, you'll find a list and there may be a few more to add to that next year.

But ever since then, I've been pondering what to write next. So this post is partly to allow me to put some of those thoughts into words. Because I genuinely don't know. A friend asked me if I was 'looking for inspiration' today, but that isn't it. Besides, as most writers know, if you wait till inspiration comes along, you wouldn't write much at all. I'm never short of ideas or inspiration. In fact I probably have too many.

I've been planning another (factual, reflective) Robert Burns related project, and to tell the truth, I'm about half way through it. But it isn't exactly setting my heather on fire! Before I do anything else, I probably need to knuckle down and finish it and then let it lie fallow for a few months before I work on rewrites.

Recently, three different people have asked me when the sequel to The Posy Ring, which was always intended to be a trilogy, is coming out. It's going really cheap on Kindle for the summer, and the beautiful paperback is still available if you prefer solid books. But I don't know when The Marigold Child is coming out, if ever, because I haven't written it yet, although I do know what happens. And just occasionally, the characters, of whom I am very fond, walk into my head and ask me what I'm going to do about them. 'You can't just leave us in limbo like this!' they say.

There's a third possibility. Because at least some of A Proper Person involved writing about my much loved late father, Julian Czerkawski, and because I have been spending some time embarking on the process of applying to reinstate the dual Polish nationality I once had, I have also been considering researching and writing about the other side of the family, the Polish side. As different from the Leeds Irish side as it is possible to be.

So, I suppose the answer to the question 'what next?' is still, I don't have a scoobie. Because above all, I need to earn some money. Not for extras like holidays, but for money to live on. Money for groceries and house maintenance and electricity and central heating oil. That kind of money. And I suspect that the only way I'm going to achieve that (although it has taken me a lifetime of working in hope to be able to admit it) is not through writing.

It's to do something else altogether.

So I might just sell antiques for a bit, blog about them, and about various related things like gardening and country living on my 200 Year Old House blog, finish my Burns book in my free time, research more of my Polish family history, and see where all that takes me.

Or I might give up completely. For the first time in my whole writing life, since I was about ten years old, and wrote bad poems, madly and happily, I sometimes fantasise about stopping. I don't really believe I will. Sooner or later, the need to shape words into something more than fact will prompt me to start again. But all the same, there's a part of me that acknowledges the novelty of this. I've never felt this way before. Not once. Not ever.

And that worries me.

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