Questions for my readers: I need your help!

Dear readers:

Having hit my three-year anniversary of writing this blog, I’d like to ask for your feedback in terms of its further/future development. Whether you have only recently subscribed or subscribed a while ago, I am very grateful for your readership, comments, likes and shares.

Those who have been reading for a while will note I have focused, as per the descriptor at the top of the blog, on my main activities and passions as a writer/journalist, traveller, eco warrior, dancer, artist and believer. While each of these is a vital to my life, the true nature of life is change – it is never static. Life is an ongoing journey of discovery and development, which was why I subtitled the blog “a journey through the bigger picture”, as I meant to chronicle my own journey(s), as well as (hopefully) to encourage your own.

So, as this post-new year time of coming out of winter and heading into spring is usually a process of reflection and refining, I’d love some feedback from you on which topic(s) interest you most. Please see the list below and utilise the interactive tools and kindly add any comments/feedback at the end.

In terms of my own writing journey, I’ve been gradually transitioning from being a full-time/freelance journalist, copy/content writer and editor to a creative writer/novelist – specifically, of historical fiction – as I have dreamed of being all my life. I always intended to travel and live a lot, and then it down and write about it all; it seems that ‘eventually’ is finally here! So, after years of filling multiple journals – probably at least 150 (and God knows how many envelopes and scraps of scribbled-on paper) – with ideas for novels and paintings during my 50+ years on the planet, I am finally beginning to do just that.

Thanks to our inability to travel anywhere during Covid, or for me to go running off into London or abroad endlessly for work, art and salsa events, etc, I decided to pick just one idea for a novel and commit myself to it. Thus far, I have written over 150,000 words of the first draft of an ambitious epic three-part historical fiction novel (WIP title: Netsuke, A Novel in Three Parts), set in 17th century Amsterdam and early Edo-era/Tokugawa Japan. It is a mix of action and adventure (pirates! shipwreck! sea battles! samurai swordfights!), romance (spoiler alert: not exactly the happy-ever-after kind) and worldview – and, of course, art (Dutch Golden Age and Japanese). I am loosely describing it as “Shogun meets Memoirs of a Geisha meets Girl with a Pearl Earring”.

While this is an ongoing and time-consuming project (and is likely to be so for at least another year or more), the main reason I have failed to publish a blog post recently (apart from the fact I am recovering from major knee surgry) is that I’ve had such an array of topics on my mind, I could not decide which to write about, as below. Some of these may be more suitable to pitch out to other publications/publishers* – hopefully for pay! – but, as the title of my blog indicates, I am always a journalist and writer “at large” (in the free-roaming rather than the criminal fugitive sense, of course!).

Meanwhile, these are the topics I’ve considered writing about; please let me know if you are really interested in any of them. It is always far easier for me to bash out an article then to write a Shogun-length novel as I am doing, but I do get ideas for both all the time, so possibly by the time I’m ready to upload this, I will have had several more!

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and creativity – I’ve been having lots of interesting conversations on this theme with fellow journalists and creatives; since it is widely expected to be the next big thing shaping our world, how will it affect us all?
  • Women and anger – Recent conversations have sparked thoughts about women’s anger – while usually characterised as a negative attribute by men, it has often catalysed much-needed change, and is therefore of inestimable value.
  • Japonisme: The West’s enduring fascination with all things Japanese – Being that I am writing a novel in part inspired by Japanese art and Japan’s historical connection with the West (via the Portuguese and the Dutch East India Company – and later the British East India Company – through trade), I’m very interested in exploring the lasting richness of cultural exchange.
  • Growthism’s impact on the UK’s biodiversity and tree loss – Not just HS2, but virtually all of the infrastructure projects currently planned or in development will have devastating impacts on our environment. Is it time to rethink this concept?
  • Where would we be without nature? – Our natural world is increasingly under threat. Yet encounters with nature are vital to our mental and spiritual wellbeing.
  • Salsa: Then and Now – Recent conversations with fellow salsa veterans have prompted thoughts about how – and why – the salsa scene is constantly reinventing itself, and where this is leading to. I’m considering relevant interviewees, but please get in touch with suggestions!
  • Sustainable travel alternatives in Europe – I am very encouraged by recent developments in this area and wish to inform and urge fellow travel afficionados to consider travel options with less harmful impacts on our threatened environment.
  • Soldiering on – The daily battles for our mind, emotions and faith are increasing. How can we be better equipped to fight these?

As I move forward with my novel, I have also realised I will need to begin to grow a prospective audience for this, perhaps by writing/blogging about it here – or perhaps even serialise it, chapter by chapter, by self-publishing here on this blog. Therefore, please also let me know if this interests you.

I thank you in advance for your feedback – please either post in the comments at the end of this blog, or alternatively use the interactive poll below (once I have figured out how to insert this).


*Note: I do usually – or at least often, or when there are no pre-publication clauses in effect – co- or republish to/from this blog.

PS. For those of you who are new to this blog or wish to read on, the next articles describe my writerly journey since I first began this blog in December/January 2019/2020 as a journalist and activist to where I am now on my journey as a newbit historical fiction writer.

4 thoughts on “Questions for my readers: I need your help!

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