Next year I will hibernate

Hedgehogs have the right idea. Just curl up in a warm pile of leaves somewhere and sleep till the daffodils are out. I should do the same thing, because every January is the same for me – a dearth of creative energy, and self-esteem hitting rock bottom. Like some reverse Midas-effect, it feels like everything I touch in this miserable month turns to crap. How about you?

Things have just started to turn around, after I spent an inspiring week tutoring the most enthusiastic group of students from South Hampstead School at Arvon Totleigh Barton. A week of their energy has propelled me into February with a fresh excitement for my own work, and I’m returning to my novel-in-progress now with some kind of optimism.

Other things I’m excited about:

• I’m almost done reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. It’s so reassuring to discover that needing regular downtime alone is not a social disorder, but a valid, natural and valuable behaviour.

• My birthday is later this week. I’m going for the biggest cooked breakfast Cambridge has to offer, then the movies to see either Django Unchained or Hitchcock.

• Thom Yorke’s project Atoms For Peace has a new album out on 25 Feb: Amok. There’s a track from it – Judge Jury and Executioner up on YouTube now. Love that man.

• I’ve just been invited to two BIG festivals later this year – I’ll post about them on here once the official sites are updated.

• On 2 March I’m taking part in a day of short story workshops with Michele Roberts, Alison MacLeod and Carrie Kania at Cathy Galvin’s WordFactory at The Society Club Soho. Details to be posted shortly.

• Karen Russell’s new story collection – Vampires in the lemon grove – comes out on 7 March. I’m just nutty about Karen Russell.

• I’ve just finished checking the proofs of the North American edition of The Stone Thrower, from ECW Press, which comes out in April.

• My Red Wing Iron Ranger boots are finally breaking in. I know it’s vain to love a pair of boots so much, but love them I do.

If emerging from January felt for you like clawing your way out of the underworld, then welcome back to ground-level. I wish you ultra-big-energy with whatever creative project you have underway.

Never miss a post. Enter your email address below to get blog updates sent straight to your mailbox:


  1. says


    I enjoyed this post. I am saddened, though, to read that you find January filled with the blahs. Perhaps a winter hobby is required. Something where you fill your tank with cool / cold air. Something you can only enjoy in January. I just came in from a forty-five minute jaunt through half metre deep snow, poles in hand and snow shoes strapped to my boots. What fun. Can barely wait to go back out this afternoon. I live in the part of Canada that gets decent amounts of snow fall. I rarely consider how delightful it might be to fly south (okay, maybe occasionally I do).

    Have a terrific birthday and thank you for the tip about a book for/about introverts. BTW, love your stories! Reviewed them for my local daily.

    Finally, I wonder if you could write about the next steps for writers of short stories who have been published in magazines. When should those writers consider getting an agent / submitting a collection of stories to a publishing house?

    • says

      Thanks Cindy. That’s good advice. We rarely get lovely deep snow like that here – sounds wonderful! – but maybe I can find another activity to make January special. And thanks very much for the review. I’ll write in more detail sometime soon with my experiences of submitting material to agents and publishers, but briefly, I’d say that you’ll be a more exciting prospect to agents and publishers if you’ve got a couple of recognised publications or competition successes under your belt. You’ll stand out from the other submissions enough to get your work read. I recommend that you keep producing work, make sure it’s extraordinary, and keep submitting it wherever you can. When you’re ready, the offers will come to you. That’s how it was with me anyway. All best. Adam.

  2. says

    Happy birthday!! So glad the SHHS girls treated you well, I bet they had a blast. And I hear you about the hibernating… funnily, I just read “Quiet”, it made me weep, suddenly everything became clear, it sort of explained my entire life. I’ve been having great chats about it on Twitter, seems every writer friend is also currently reading it and experiencing the same sense of liberation, of “Ah, I’m an introvert so it’s okay”. Brilliant, thank god for Susan Cain. I scored 19 on her 20-point checklist! OK, back into my cave now.

  3. says

    Happy birthday, Adam. Enjoy that fry up.
    January is always hopeful for me and I like it cos it’s my birth month, but it is always a long, long month and I understand the touch of the SADs.
    Sounds like you’ve lots to look forward to which is cheering.
    Nuala x

Go ahead, leave a comment: