For the first time in many years, 2023 was one in which the business of ghostwriting wasn’t quite front and centre of everything I did, workwise at least. Sure, I had a couple of interesting projects which took me in all directions and, as always, I consider myself lucky to be in a position where I can pick and choose to work on some great stories.

The first of these was a commission involving a High Net Worth Individual (who remains nameless) and a superyacht. Not any old floating plastic gin palace, but a vessel with a unique history. It was about to be refurbished so that it may spend another century cruising the coastal hotspots of the Mediterranean and beyond. The commission was to research and write the history of the yacht, from its beginnings in the shipyards of the British Empire to its iconic status today. This voyage of discovery took me around Europe (even to landlocked Austria) in search of the people who had helped to make the ship what it now is – a grand old lady of the seas that will surely turn heads wherever she goes.

The second piece of work – now in its editing stage – was with an academic who specialises in the psychology of high performance. He and I have worked closely on his first book, out next year, and I think it will be a gamechanger in terms of what it means to be human in a world of unprecedented change, with all the attendant stresses and pressures this brings. We may not realise it, but we are all ‘high performing’ individuals – we have to be, in order to survive and thrive amidst the demands of the 21st century. Trust me, this book really will be for everyone.

This latter project was timely, personally speaking, when it came along in late 2022. At the time, I felt I’d had enough of ghostwriting. Almost 20 years of working alone was – to be frank – driving me a little bit nuts. And everyone around me too. I felt it was time to make changes. The job of being ‘A Writer’ is an enviable one and I appreciate hugely the opportunities it has given me. But without unpacking my violin, it comes with its own issues – stress, worry, financial troubles, fear of being forgotten, fear of taking on too much and burning out. And loneliness. Acres and acres of loneliness that tend not to finish when the laptop turns off at the end of the day.

So to relieve this, I decided to get a job. In my case (because I can’t do anything by halves) I got two jobs, both part-time and both flexible enough to keep the ghosting going without losing my mind over it. So now I occasionally teach cycling skills to primary school children (excellent fun, keeps you fit, it’s work with a purpose and has a measurable outcome) and I also write copy for a marketing agency. In this job I work alongside a team of lovely people, all of them way younger than me, and I’ve come to appreciate them as colleagues and friends. In these two roles I’ve met people who have saved my sanity and made me realise what a privileged person I’ve been, in terms of the writing work I’ve done these past 30 years. Sometimes it’s almost impossible to see the wood for the trees, but both the events of 2023 and the individuals involved have truly helped to clear that particular path.

Without digging too deep into the psychology of everything, I think that 2023 has brought balance back into my life, shifting a perspective that seemed to be stuck like glue and giving me a weighty dose of optimism that Everything Will Be Fine. Of course, it won’t – into each life a little rain must fall. That said, simply recognising this is a step in the right direction. There is already more than an inkling of what’s to come in 2024 for me but perhaps for the first time in ages, it’s the variables that interest me more than the certainties. Let’s see….