I have spent a great deal of 2021 in the doldrums, a term I first encountered in that excellent children’s book The Phantom Tollbooth. It can mean a period of stagnation or depression, and in sailing, it refers to an area near the equator where ships sometimes get stuck on windless waters.
I have been extremely fortunate in many ways during this pandemic: no one in my family has been badly affected by Covid-19, I work remotely for a great employer and I have time for my other interests, such as my podcast, Story Radio. Despite all this, I have struggled with my creative writing this year and have only written one short story and about three new chapters of my novel, which I am revising. I have been submitting to agents (mainly) but have only managed slightly less than half the amount of submissions I did in 2020 (I keep track of these using Duotrope). Sometimes it’s hard to keep the motivation and drive to keep writing and putting yourself out there, as a quick scroll through writers’ Twitter will tell you.
However, I’ve just returned from a wonderful and much-needed holiday where I also managed to get a scuba-diving certificate. I was born by the sea and I think I am happiest when I am close to it. Being able to dive among the fish and coral and relax in the sunshine afterwards felt like a huge privilege after this long and frequently dreary year. I’ve chosen a photo of a beautiful ship I took on this holiday as I’m hoping that the doldrums will end in 2022 and I can start moving forwards once more. I can only wish the same to all of you – Happy New Year!