Getting over the bump of the year – and looking ahead to 2022

Yikes – has it really been almost a month since my last newsletter?

Late summer has felt like a bit of a marathon here at Pinnacle Editorial HQ. In August I was putting in big days to get my next manuscript to Vertebrate Publishing on time, and for the first ten days or so of September I’ve been up in the Scottish Highlands on a multi-purpose trip (book launch, catching up with friends and family, personal hillwalking, and magazine work). Now that I’m back at my desk, it’s full steam ahead with the next issue of Sidetracked magazine, which goes to press at the end of the month. Carey Davies at TGO has been keeping me busy with plenty of other projects, too – and it won’t be long until we start work on this year’s TGO Awards. More on that another time.

My year often seems to look a little like this: moving through a gradual crescendo from January through to April, then kicking into high gear over the summer. By the end of September things have usually begun to tail off, though, and I can relax a little and take stock. Inevitably, thoughts begin to turn to what changes I’ll make next year.

I haven’t had the chance to apply any serious thought to this yet, but I do know that I’m going to make an effort to be a bit more picky about the projects I choose to take on in 2022. Writing two books a year is fine, but it isn’t fine if my other work grows as well. I’m doing a lot more regular work for both Sidetracked and TGO than I was this time two years ago. My current thinking is that I will start to be more selective about the private manuscript edits I take on. Rather than doing, say, seven or eight a year, I might keep it to no more than four or five. This should help to keep things a bit more manageable.

As always, I am grateful to have this work, grateful to have thrived during a difficult time, so the last thing I want is for this to come across as a whinge. I’m aware, though, that I have been canny as well as lucky. The main lesson I’ve taken from the pandemic is that the multi-skilled freelancers who have lots of different areas of interest, lots of projects and clients on the go, are often the ones who will do well in times such as this. They’re less likely to have all of their work wiped out in one go.

I’ll return to more regular newsletters of the useful and interesting variety (as opposed to updates like this) in October. For now, here are some links.

Recently published

Twenty years as a writer: a first look at The Farthest Shore – thoughts and reflections on the publication of my new book.

The Farthest Shore is out: a look back at the book launch event at the Highland Bookshop, Fort William – my blog post about the launch event, which took place on the 2nd of September.

There’s a bunch from me in every recent issue of The Great Outdoors. In the October issue, out now and available to order online, you’ll find my Route Profile for the Ring of Steall and a skills guide to pacing and timing in mountain navigation.

Life Lessons from the Amazon – I interviewed Pip Stewart for Sidetracked, and in our very interesting chat we talked environmental destruction in the Amazon, flesh-eating diseases, the nature of privilege, and neocolonialism in the world of adventure.

Links of interest

Contrasting Days In The Hills: Quinag & Sgurr Mor – I spent a bit of time with Chris Townsend towards the start of the month, and we had two good days out in the NW Highlands. Here is his blog post about our trip.

Iain Cameron: Vanishing Ice – John Burns in conversation with Iain Cameron, author of The Vanishing Ice – another recently published Vertebrate title.

Safe as Houses – a fantastic piece here on Scottish bothies, their history and context, by David Lintern.

The Importance of Beta Readers – ‘I can look back now with wry amusement that I almost skipped the entire beta reader stage of the book-writing process. What a mistake that would have been! The thought of everything that my books would have lacked makes me break into a cold sweat. Plus, receiving hard feedback has brought personal benefits far greater than mere improvements in a published book. I’ve learnt a huge amount about myself from being pushed.’

New books will be hard to come by for the rest of the year – buying books for Christmas? My advice is to start ordering soon.

Until next time,


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