My exams are finally over and I can return to writing the historical novel that I was entangled with before revision began in earnest. This summer will be given over, by and large, to writing prose. The thought gives me pause, and no little emotional anguish. I'm beginning to realise that I simply can't afford to write poetry. It doesn't pay well enough - if anything at all, in the majority of cases - and with the economic downturn, I don't have the luxury of being able to work without at least the potential prospect of payment.
I've spent the past two decades without a regular income: first, as a semi-pro snooker player, then as a full-time poet. The handful of novels I've published in the past ten years have been genre, written under a pen-name, low-paid, as my numerous attempts at mainstream fiction since Kissing the Pink (Sceptre, 1999) have proved impossible to place. Yet I seem reasonably talented at writing the shorter, genre novel. Which is just as well, frankly. Since my Gregory Award in 1996, I've published five collections of poetry - three long, two short; the money I've received from sales of all five poetry collections would not even amount to the money garnered from one genre novel.
I enjoy writing prose. It can be a rich and highly entertaining canvas to work on, even in the relatively narrow field of genre fiction. But poetry is - and always has been, since I was a young child - my vocation. I had hoped that the next few years would see me working more fruitfully in poetry. But a recent application for a poetry 'job' for which I was more than qualified, and which would have secured me enough money over the next two years to continue writing without fear of eviction, was turned down out of hand. In the meantime, like many people at the moment, I've reached a critical point cash-wise and can't ignore my financial problems any longer.
So, as I mentioned earlier, I'm going to post up the unpublished Gawain sequence poems I've written so far - removing a few of them later, as I may yet send some of them out to magazines - and then make a stab at actually writing some new ones, which I will then post up as drafts whenever they appear in my notebook. Two of the early Gawain poems have already been posted here, and a few have been accepted for publication elsewhere, but the rest are fair game.
I'll start either tomorrow at at the weekend, then post up one Gawain poem every other day, until I run out of poems. And what will happen then?