“Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year Revolutions

Happy New Year, folks. I hope 2009 is everything you – yes, YOU – want it to be.
  As for myself, a year half as good as 2008 would be a very good year indeed. The main reason for that, of course, was the arrival of the Princess Lilyput (right, in full-on Eskimo mode), who put this writing malarkey, and the whole business of living, into perspective. Cyril Connolly once said that the pram in the hall is the enemy of creativity, although the flip side of that equation is that creativity is the enemy of the pram in the hall. And I might be a sap, but I like that there’s a pram in my hall.
  Last year was a terrific year, no doubt. As most of you already know, our humble tome THE BIG O was published in the States, which was the realisation of a life-long dream. It took a hell of a lot of hard work to get to that point, and it was hugely gratifying to see it pay off, even if it then sank like a book-shaped stone. But there’s no shame in that. There’s a lot of books published every year, and very few of them manage to top the New York Times’ best-seller list. THE BIG O gave us a fun ride on the rollercoaster, and I met some brilliant people as a result. And while I could sit here and grouse about the bewildering variety of circumstances that conspired to hole THE BIG O below the waterline, the fact remains that I’d be grousing about a book of mine that went out into the big, bad world and was taken seriously by a large number of people whose opinions and work I’ve respected for some time now. Back when I was a kid with vague ambitions to be a writer, I was totally ignorant of the issues that actually matter to the industry. All I wanted was the respect of my peers. So that, too, was hugely gratifying.
  Looking forward to 2009, I have a follow-up to THE BIG O already in the can, which may or may not see the light of day some time this year. I’m also working on a book of crime fiction essays written by Irish crime writers, which is in prospect a terrific read, and something I’m hoping will reach a shelf near you late in 2009. And, naturally, I’m tap-tap-tapping away on a new book, which I’m hoping to get finished at some stage this year.
  All of that, though, will take place, or not, against the backdrop of potentially the worst recession for generations, which means that my real work – i.e., paying work – will take precedence over writing, blogging and generalised faffing about. And everything this year, given the ridiculous amount of work I put into generalised faffing about last year, will take a back seat to my one and only New Year’s Resolution, which is to spend more time with Lily and Aileen.
  For the first time in many years I did no work at all over the Christmas period. And what I realised was that, as much as I love to read and write, and the two are inseparable, I don’t need them in the same way, or as fundamentally, as I need my little girl. The world of books is a seductive one, and it’s one of my deepest hopes that Lily grows up to love books and appreciate their wonder, but I have no intention of sacrificing the most valuable years of our lives to closeting myself away at a desk while she starts to crawl, and walk, and says her first words, downstairs.
  The writing and publishing of books can, has, and possibly will make me happy. But what I realised over the holidays is that I’m already happy, and I’m happy because of the pram in the hall, and happy in a place where even books don’t reach.
  I’m sure every writer reading this will be thinking I’m a sap, that the hard facts are that we’ll all need to work twice as hard this year than we did last year, because the economy is screwed and fewer and fewer writers are going to make it for the foreseeable future. But the truth is that I am a sap, and that I don’t care: 2009 is the Year of Lily. Peace, out.

14 comments:

Stuart Neville said...

Francis Coppola once said the best thing a young man could do for his life is have a family, because there was no greater incentive to work. I don't think there's anything remotely sappy about that.

Anyway, Happy New Year, Dec, and thanks for all the support you've given me in 2008.

Ray said...

Well said, Dec. Hope you and yours have a stellar 2009.

Brian McGilloway said...

Dec
I'm with Stuart on this one - there's no reason for them to be mutually exclusive - quite the opposite in fact. Whether a man (or woman) provides for their family digging a ditch or writing a book is irrelevant. Thanks for all your support in 2008 and very best wishes to you and yours for 2009.
Cheers
B

Corey Wilde said...

Sounds to me like both your head and heart are in the perfect place. Have a blessed New Year!

Dana King said...

Not sappy at all. In fact, I think you have the right attitude for a healthy life for all concerned.

The Sole Heir will be 18 in March. I would far rather be known as an unsuccessful author and good father than as a well-known writer and unsuccessful father. Not that they are mutually exclusive.

THE BIG O shows you have the talent to be successful. Now it just takes time. Working harder rarely makes anyone a better writer, unless they weren't working hard enough in the first place. Working better--knowing what to refine, how to do it, and making most effective use of the skills you have--is what makes one a better writer. Having a child should help you to more ruthless in evaluating how best to spend your writing time, which can only be a good thing.

John McFetridge said...

You're a sap.



But you're also right. The real enemy of creativity is lack of perspective, self-indulgence and selfishness.

Happy New Year.

Declan Burke said...

Sappicus maximus, c'est moi.

Appreciate the feedback, chaps ... and the sound advice. Maybe it's possible to have it all, I don't know. Here's hoping.

And the best of luck to you all, too.

Cheers,Dec

Donna said...

Dec - what a lovely post. And bless you for being a sap. Princess Lilyput is very very lucky that her pram is in your hall :o)

That said, I look forward to the sequel to The Big O, I look forward to the other book you are writing, and one day, I look forward to a sequel to Eight Ball Boogie :o).

Happy New Year.

Donna

Peter Rozovsky said...

An inspiring message, friend, sappy, but in a good, rugged, manly way. A good year to you and that lovely young family of yours!

adrian mckinty said...

Happy New Year Dec,

Adrian...

marco said...

Happy Lily Year,Dec.

Ciao
Marco

bookwitch said...

I'm the wrong side of 50, with two children aged 16 and 20. I've always felt vaguely ashamed at my lack of career, or even a job and an income, but whenever I consider some (possibly very nice) stranger having spent all those years with my adorable babies instead of me, I know I did the right thing.

Isn't it strange how we all manage to end up with the most perfectly loveable children? I mean, all of us. Such a coincidence.

Gerard Brennan said...

Yeah, happy new year, you sap (from one to another, I'll grudgingly admit). You'll probably find a way to do both. and as Donna said, I'm looking forward to the sequel to Eightball Boogie.

gb

Yvon said...

Hello Declan,
Ath bhliain faoi mhaise,
Happy New year,
Bonne année,
Yvon