Well….it’s been a little while, hasn’t it?
I’m not a great fan of New Year resolutions. When I make them, I tend to break them so fast the electronic ink hasn’t dried. And also having ADHD means I tend to have terrible expectations of what I can get done in a day. Even if I got it right about exactly how much I should be able to get done, my ADHD also means I’m distracted by a million, billion things constantly.
So, I write this with some trepidation, but I thought I would just reintroduce myself to my regular readers and to the many of you who have joined even despite the fact I’ve not posted anything since around August. Stating my hopes and intentions is at least a way for you to get to know me again, and might just give me a nudge to do at least one or two of the things I’m going to mention.
But first, why such a long absence?
Well, firstly, my latest book came out in September and that was quite a whirlwind of book launches and talks (including virtual ones) for a while. The Pukur was my first novel and is set in Bangladesh where my family and I lived for many years. You can take look at this and my other books here.
I barely had time to enjoy that book launch however. Another problem with ADHD is that you tend to take on WAY too many things. Apart from my charity work (I’m on the board of trustees for several organisations) and studying for yet another degree, I also tutor students online across the world, help aspiring writers with their books (either as mentor, editor or ghostwriting – all of which I love doing) and write reviews.
The latter has staggered me in 2022 with over 4.5 million views of my reviews in one single year. I’m rather hoping 2023 will do even better! Even if it doesn’t though, I adore reviewing books, theatre productions and restaurants, so I doubt I will stop.
But I did stop – book reviewing, that is. This site is the one platform I use more or less for fun and so, when time pressures are upon me, it is the one that gets dropped. The above-mentioned activities have consumed so much of my time that just reading any books – let alone writing about what I think of them – has been a struggle. I have read many, of course, which means I now have a backlog of book reviews to write and share. I shall begin that task this very week – probably.
The problem is that I find it very hard to say no – especially when it comes to teaching – and that makes the work/life balance very difficult to manage. Since the Pandemic began, I – like most of us, I think – have really been reconsidering what it means to make an income and what it means to enjoy life. Often, you can’t enjoy life if you can’t pay the bills. But the more you earn, the more the bills some to come.
I have enjoyed an astonishingly good income in 2022 and I feel very privileged to be in such a position, but it has come at a cost, not least to my mental health. At the end of 2022 I made a decision that I needed to change things, even if it means reducing my income. Not an ideal time to do it, with the cost of living crisis hitting us all hard. My heating bills alone are likely to leave us several thousand pounds in debt to the utility companies within a couple of years. Fuel bills for two vehicles (both needed for work), along with needing to support two grown-up children still in education, has all but wiped out the meagre savings we’ve made over the years. I’m not crying poverty – I still enjoy a good income and I’m grateful that I can work from home most of the time – but it is definitely not an ideal time to reduce my income potential in order to safeguard my personal time. Nevertheless, I couldn’t go on as things were. I’m working on the basis that crises can’t last forever and the only way is up.
And so, dear reader, I’m here again having reduced the amount of paid work I take on so that I can enjoy studying, enjoy proper tea breaks in the garden listening to the birds and the sea (or will, once springtime arrives) and enjoy both reading and writing about books.
But more than that, I need to get back to my series giving advice to new writers. That was a labour of love that needs extra special concentration because you’re messing with people’s lives and expectations. That’s not something I take lightly.
I had also hoped to launch a site dedicated to politics, religion and philosophy but that project has very much bitten the dust – not least because I have found myself mired in Twitter’s ghastly universe where you can’t help but realise the world is full of idiots. Forgivable, but not when they are bigoted, misogynistic and prejudiced in the extreme. I hold my hands up to admit I wade in with sleeves rolled up, swinging punches – sometimes wildly. Twitter just sucks you in. I do need to find ways to pull back from it before it consumes my soul and turns my heart black. So, it is safe to say, I have become rather disenchanted with the idea of engaging with others on an intellectual level. People don’t want to debate. They want to control. I don’t really buy into that.
The compromise then is that I will hopefully share a few articles and essays here on this site too (which I do control, and rightly so). I used to do theatre reviews here but now I only write reviews for Northern Arts Review, as a rule, so it is about time I started putting other things up here rather than just book reviews. Exactly what I’m going to share…I’m not sure. But I’ll think of something. I will try to keep such things related to the world of writing, where I can. I promise.
So that’s it. Happy New Year to you all. I hope you had a good celebration and are all working hard for an excellent 2023 – but don’t forget that work/life balance thing and make sure you gave yourselves a little ‘me’ time. We all need it.
Till next time
Social Entrepreneur, educationalist, bestselling author and journalist, D K Powell is the author of the bestselling collection of literary short stories “The Old Man on the Beach“. His first book, ‘Sonali’ is a photo-memoir journal of life in Bangladesh and has been highly praised by the Bangladeshi diaspora worldwide. Students learning the Bengali language have also valued the English/Bengali translations on every page. Listen to his life story in interview with the BBC here.
His latest book is ‘Try not to Laugh’ and is a guide to memorising, revising and passing exams for students.
D K Powell is available to speak at events (see his TEDx talk here) and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, he is available for one-to-one mentoring and runs a course on the psychology of writing.
Ken writes for a number of publications around the world. Past reviewer for Paste magazine, The Doughnut, E2D and United Airways, and currently reviews for Lancashire Life magazine and Northern Arts Review. His reviews have been read more than 4.5 million times.