Goodbye 2012. Close the door on your way out.

If you’d asked me, even as recently as a month ago, how I felt about 2012 (not sure why you would, but bear with me) then you’d have probably been met with a barrage of swearing.

Maybe it was always going to struggle in the face of 2011. Of course, rose-tinted glasses do come in to play somewhat so I won’t pretend there weren’t wobbles along the way that year. My eczema recurred in a big way (too much information?) and I suffered rather frightening anxiety dreams as I tried to balance everything. But even with all that, two words – Dolly Would– made 2011 the hard act it was to follow. It dominated my whole year and its early January broadcast saw me start 2012 on the highest high imaginable.

And the rules of the universe dictate that highest high must be followed by the lowest low.

The pressure I felt to keep up the momentum was huge. And projects did come along, I strengthened some existing relationships, started new ones and tried new things like my first stab at dramaturgy (never again, but that’s another story for another day!)

I failed, however, to win the Culture Award for Writer of the Year. I failed to get this commission, or that project, or the other scheme. Things were slowing down, not speeding up. I was slowing down. It’s hard to keep going in the face of, what seems like, a wall of rejections. I had spurts of productivity, creativity, but doubts – never too far from the surface anyway – creep in, the whispers of “what’s the point?” get louder.

Maybe I’d peaked, maybe that was me done. And when I got screwed over financially for the first time (that I know of) in my career, maybe that was the last nail in the coffin – not cut out for this business after all?

I spent much of 2012 frowning. Frowning while Googling my contemporaries to see how successful and happy and funny they were. I cried in public at least twice (mortifying). And there were the darkest few weeks about 3/4 through when I refused to leave the house.

But you don’t take up this profession to be able to walk away from it easily. It’s not a hobby, not a sideline. Something inside me still had fight – something that was still getting me up in the mornings even if the rest of me wanted to pull the sheets over my head.

I submitted my application for the Traverse 50 at 3am on the deadline day. I didn’t write it then – I’d prepared it way in advance during one of the spurts – but I hadn’t sent it. The “what’s the point?” voices thought they had triumphed when I went to bed that night. But when I woke up in the early hours it felt like do-or-die. Was I in this or not? Well I am, as it goes, cos I got up, turned the computer on and a month later I was listed alongside 49 other writers for the year-long attachment to Scotland’s Traverse theatre.

So the back end of the year has seen things looking up. As well as The Traverse 50 I’ve been commissioned for A Wondrous Place, a production that aims to challenge the negative ‘grim up north’ stereotypes and will tour to Liverpool, Sheffield, Newcastle and Manchester in May/June. It’s a fantastic opportunity and concept that I hope I can rise to. December saw me perform my first solo show, and the whole writer slash performer path is one I’d be keen to walk down further (fingers crossed, touch wood, etc).

Who knows what the New Year will bring. Promises and predictions seem futile. All I want is to keep writing and write better. And to shop more in Next.

So then 2012. You’ve had your moments, but I won’t be sorry to see the back of you. Although well done on the Olympics, I did enjoy that very much.

Big thank you to all my family and friends who have supported me this year (and the rest). I know it’s sometimes not easy and I can be a right pain to know, but sometimes I’m quite funny too, and occasionally bring sweets, so hopfully that balances it out somewhat … xx

Showcasing at the Showcase (RSC-stylee) …

Helena’s monologue from Quick Bright Things is going to be performed at the Sage Gateshead on Saturday 2 June as part of the RSC Open Stages showcase event.

The extract (Part 3 for those who saw the full production at The People’s Theatre last month) meets Helena twenty years after the magical goings-on in the forest and asks what kind of life can she lead with a man bewitched to love her?

The role was originally played by Penny Lamport and Moira Valentine, and Moira (pictured below) will reprise her performance at the Sage.

For booking details and information about the other RSC events, click [here]

  • In other news … Live Theatre are pulling the plug on Short Cuts after 10 years to make way for new Live Lab events. As a former winner (Yackety Yak, fact fans) I’ve been invited back to present an extract from a work-in-progress for the farewell event Short Cuts: The Final Cut. Bring tissues, it’s gonna be emotional …
  • In other other news … clearly Live Theatre can’t get enough of me (snarf) cos I’m also writing a couple of shorts for Ten Tiny Tyneside Plays – part of the Mega Bites Youth Theatre Festival in August. When I say ‘shorts’ I mean it – a 5 minute two hander and a 2 minute monologue. How hard can it be … (famous last words!)

Anyone got a pen I can borrow?

Yeah, yeah, technology is all fine and good. And yes, I was mighty pleased with myself when I transferred my script draft on to my Kindle, saving me having to print out a whole copy of the play which would be immediately defunct once the meeting was over.

But in my giddy eee-look-at-this-how-clever state I forgot to take any paper to said meeting on which to take notes.

The result – the back of an envelope that was languishing in my bag and a pen borrowed off Tony. No swish-swoo technology needed after all …

 (Please note the use of the word ‘shenanigans’. It and ‘brouhaha’ are currently my favourite words!)