F*ck Off, 2016 - Welcome, 2017
It’s 6:30pm. I’m sat in a café in Manchester, an empty pot of earl grey to my right, some blueberry muffin crumbs on my lap. I’m surrounded by the din of baristas and I’m coming to the awesome mind-fracking realisation that it’s happened again.
Some good some bad.
And as if I’m bound by some ancient pagan ritual to bear my genitals in an open field of strangers, I’m going to soak myself in a bath of self-reflection and try to make sense of what happened, what didn’t happen, and what might happen in 2017.
See previous reflection-bathing sessions:
The Phrase Of The Year
The one thing I’ve been saying over and over again. Every morning as if it might kickstart the coffee and get the old thinking engine sputtering forth.
Okay, here we go…
Every single morning I’ve sat down and I’ve written that exact phrase. It turns me over from sleepy bedtime mode to wakey worktime mode.
So before I list out all the things that happened in 2016, let me do it properly.
*cracks knuckles, sips tea, types…*
Okay, here we go…
- Moved up north to the city of Manchester. So far it’s made me happier & healthier apart from a certain period where I …
- Got super-depressed and had suicidal thoughts. (I’m better now). But it’s opened my eyes to how pervasive mental health issues are within males of the modern world and how I might be able to help others in the future.
- Doubled down on Hawk & Cleaver and we launched a website, 2x podcasts, 4x novels, and 13x short stories/collections.
- Started The Other Stories podcast — which has been downloaded 250,000 times (WHAT?!?!) within the first 10 months.
- Got invited to present my short film, Keith at the Emden Short Film Festival. I vlogged about it.
- Won the best Lo-Budget Short Film Award at the 13th London Short Film Festival.
- Embraced my baldness.
- Exhibited at our first Comic-Con — We Live-Streamed!
- Started writing down a new story idea every single day for #PROJECT365.
- Released The Hipster From Outer Space Audiobook
- We blogged for Bitcoin over on Steemit and made enough to bootstrap the costs for mine and my co-author’s upcoming book series.
- I ran! … not enough, but I’m a snake-dodging iguana compared to the sedentary rock formation I’d become by the end of 2015.
2016 was the year I decided to be grateful. And not without reason. I realised how easy it is to fall into the trap of bacterial goal-setting. That feeling of always wanting, always needing. I took a step back, looking upon my life and work with kinder eyes and saying … ‘y’know what? This ain’t too bad.’
2016 was the year I decided to focus and to stop working on shit that didn’t matter. It was around April where I’d loaded my days up with so many projects and freelance work that I finally realised that I was doing it all wrong. In my mind, I was working towards some sort of freedom. Freedom to do what? To write and work on stuff I enjoy doing, which I’m able to do anyway. The rest was simply a fancy distraction. I immediately took a machete and hacked away the rot until I was left with myself and the work I enjoy.
2016 was the year I grew as a writer. I’ve now written 5 novels and published 2. I’ve written over a quarter million words of prose. They say that if you can look back at your work from the year before and not squirm then you’re not improving fast enough. The last time I looked at my work from a year ago I didn’t squirm, I kernel panicked.
2016 was the year I learned to love collaboration. 1 + 1 = ?. You’d think the answer would be easy but it really isn’t. Since co-writing novels, comics, and building a team to produce The Other Stories it’s become painfully clear that I really can’t do everything on my own. 1 + 1 doesn’t equal 2. It equals Voltron!!!
2016 is the year I learned that some things are not weights, but foundations. Probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to come to terms with. I’ve always been a fleeting individual. I keep my wardrobe small and my bags packed. I’m always looking to move onto the next thing, never wanting to get trapped by circumstance.
But something interesting happened this year. I realised that these things that I thought were weights, clamping me down, were simply foundations to build upon.
Some themes I’m aiming to live by in 2017:
Oftentimes when you start out on a novel it can seem daunting, like looking for a needle in a haystack (using nothing but your nose).
You keep researching and pondering, unable to find any sort of guiding light at the end of the tunnel.
But then you keep going. You keep plugging away. And sure enough, after you’ve clocked enough hours the light appears, and you start to see where you’re trying to get to.
My aim is to keep plugging away, to trust the process, and to sniff out that damn needle!
Build like a motherf*cker
Those foundations I spoke of, yeah well I want to keep building on those. I want to deepen the relationships, create more stuff, make the most of what I’ve got.
Make her proud AND happy
And by her, I mean my fiancée. Last year I wanted to make her happy every day. Now I’m building another layer. I want to make her proud, too
Things I hope to do in 2017:
- Publish 6x Novels (sounds a lot but 2 are already written and I’ll be co-authoring the others)
- Publish some comics (soon … soon)
- A full year of The Other Stories with a sideways show
- Run a 10k
And to quote myself from last year:
“… if I don’t do those things, I won’t be sad. I know that working on those themes is what will keep me level. It will keep me moving in the right direction. It will keep me breathing.” Former-Luke
If I had to give the me from last year some advice, I’d tell him to chill the f*ck out, take stock of all the awesome things around you, nobody owes you squat, keep making stuff, lean into what makes you smile, and remember that a body in motion tends to stay in motion. So keep motioning.
Stuff I enjoyed
Podcasts (This could be pretty endless)
And that’s that.
It’s now 1:13pm the following day and I’m in another café, all wrinkly and ready to climb out of my self-reflection bath.
The ritual is complete. I have appeased our great protectors, Gog and Magog, who will now retreat back to their luxury Roman Spa miles beneath the surface-world, leaving our head’s uncrushed and our eyeballs unpopped.
…until next year anyway…
Oh and if you’re still here, why not head over to www.HawkAndCleaver.com for a free book :).