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I have returned.

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Playing with perspective in the salt flats. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia.

Having spent six months exploring twelve countries across two continents, taking hundreds of buses and dozens of planes and of course using my own feet to walk an indeterminable number of miles, I’m finally home. It feels strange to be back – but a good strange, I think.

Travelling exhausted me. It broke me, it humbled me, it pained me. It was the best thing I have ever done. I’ve met amazing people, seen beautiful places, and lived out some amazing experiences. If you get the chance to get away, to explore the world, even if it’s just for a month at a time, do it.

Did I get any inspiration? Hell yes. Did I write? Nowhere near as much as I would have liked to. But yes, a little, and I hope to share the results soon.

I trust 2017 is now firmly in the back of your minds, and I hope 2018 treats you right.

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I’m writing this from a motel room in Banff, Canada.

Roughly three weeks ago I quit my job. Over the next six months I will be travelling through Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina.

And so this blog will come to an end. Or maybe not. Certainly an indefinite hiatus. Ideally I’d like to update when I can over the coming months, but more than that I’d like to keep writing several projects as I travel – short stories, longer pieces, as well as general impressions and observations along the way. It’s going to be hard enough for me to devote time to that.

I’d like to thank those who have regularly read my posts on here, especially those who have taken the time out to give feedback, positive and negative. And perhaps some of you will still be around if/when I do come back.

All the best,

Nick

Quick update: I haven’t given up, I’m just busy.

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Very busy. By the end of this month I will have submitted work to seven literary magazines, publications, short story competitions, etc, etc. Each with a different piece of work entered. And there’s more to come in October and the rest of 2016. Some stories have been kicking around for a while. Some already existing pieces have been rehashed and reworked into more coherent wholes. Others are completely brand new. Some of it I think is pretty good, some still needs more work, and some of it won’t go anywhere, but I have a bit more choice and perspective over what has worked and what hasn’t.

(I’ve had some good news already but I can’t say more that that right now)

It’s been intense (and a real strain at times) but I am slowly building a small body of work – whereas previously I just had a few nice prompts on a blog. I’ve loved working on the prompts and updating the blog in general; the occasional complimentary comment from readers and the photographers I’ve been inspired by are fucking great to see, and I really appreciate them. But at the same time, they won’t get me anywhere. Where am I trying to get to? I don’t know. But I do like writing stories and if I want to take things more seriously I need to push myself.

So I apologise for the lack of content, now and possibly in the next few months, to the few who do regularly visit my blog, and to myself, because I do enjoy writing here. But I’m doing it for the right reasons.

Also I’m 26 today (fuck!)

Posts have been running a little dry recently as I’ve been away; Sark Folk Festival last weekend, and the weekend prior to that, Glastonbury. My recovery has been slow and difficult, and while there was much fun to be had, I just don’t feel human anymore.

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Glastonbury 2016 was a lot tougher than previous years (I blame the mud)

But the reason for this post is not an opportunity to complain about the “Great British Summer”. A couple of months ago I entered a small writing contest, hosted by author Curtis Bausse, who challenged writers to submit a short piece based on the following passage from his book The Cats);

A long time ago, when life was tolerable, almost good, he had two cats that kept him company. How old was he? Seven? Eight? Before his father began to question the worth of his existence. Back then, presumably, he was cute, almost as cute as the tabbies. He never knew what happened to them but they disappeared, both of them, all of a sudden, and he was left only with an inconsolable sadness.

More information on the contest can be found on Curtis’s site here. I chose a rather dark take on the passage, detailing a rainy night in a diner for the central character as he returns to the hometown that brought him so much pain, for the funeral of his estranged father. (Note, I haven’t actually read the book of which the extract is taken from.)

I did not win, but a group of us – around 20 – impressed Curtis, and guest judge Atthys Gage, enough to suggest bringing our selected stories together to create an anthology.

The title is to be decided (it will be cat themed due to the subject matter), and several rounds of proof-reading are currently underway, but I don’t think the finished anthology is too far off. There will be no profit gained for each participant (anything earned from the project will be going to charity), but that was never the point. It’s been flattering to be selected and involved, and so beneficial to be working and learning from like-minded people. It’s a small-scale project but I hope to learn a lot from the experience.

Once more is known, perhaps a release date and title, I will post another update, and of course will announce when it is done and available to purchase. Like I said, it’s not a huge deal but this will be the first time a piece of my work has been ‘published’ in anything other than this blog, so personally, I’m really excited going forwards.

Updates (and general progress on everything) has slowed this month. But for good reason – I just returned from a two week holiday (a week in Miami South Beach, followed by another week in Cancun, which coincided with Spring Break). Too many burgers, nachos, cocktails, tequila shots, late nights, sunburn… It was a welcome break from work and the typical winter weather we see here in the UK, but I’m absolutely knackered now and in dire need of detoxification.

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Me (the goon) with some Mayan architecture (the pyramid). You can check out my instagram (add @nickjparr) which contains a few more photos from the trip.

There is a potentially exciting joint project in the works, but I’ll hold back on sharing that until more has been confirmed. But the usual updates should start flowing again soon.

Cheers!

Wahey! January, the month in which depression, suicide and crushed dreams are at an all time high (unconfirmed data), is out of the way for another year. Now February is here to ensure we remain cold, wet and miserable for another four weeks. In case you hadn’t noticed, winter is not a season I’m fond of.

December isn’t too bad. You’ve got the run up to Christmas and New Year and the parties to keep you sane. But then January brings in the realisation that you are another year older and still a useless dickhead. On top of that, it’s really bloody cold and everyone keeps ranting on about new year, new me. As well as the sickening knowledge that this will be par for the course for the next three months. I’m all about the summer. I have more energy, I’m more sociable, I’m more active, I look better, I feel better. If we can all pull through February and March, it’ll soon be in spring and before you know it summer will be upon us. I’m already planning to use as many of my 25 days of holiday in order to take best advantage of the warm summer months as I can.

As my posts recently have been very text-heavy, here’s a lovely picture of my Croatian adventure last summer. More sunny times soon please.

Desperately trying not to forget times like these.

Desperately trying not to forget times like these.

Anyway, this is just a bit of an update really. My job is still going really well and I passed my probation just before Christmas. I’m heading to London next weekend to visit a few mates so that should be a laugh and raise my spirits. My ‘aims’ for the coming months, as I covered in a post just after new year, are going fairly well. I’m reading a lot more; January saw me finish Child of God by Cormac McCarthy, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and The Thing On The Doorstep and other weird stories by H.P Lovecraft, and there’s plenty of material I want to get read in the coming months. I’m also writing as often as I can and this blog remains pretty active. I’ve been trying to add a post every week or so; depending on how much I’ve got on at the time, it might be more or less frequent. Don’t ask about the gym though.

Another side project I’ve taken on is to teach myself to use Corel Painter. It’s a digital media/art based software in which drawings and paintings can be created. I’ve bought a graphics tablet to accompany it, and while I’ve got extensive experience using the Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop/Illustrator/Indesign) due to my degree in architecture, a program like Corel is very new to me. I’ll write about this in more detail in a separate post, but I’m very excited and have some ideas I’m looking forward to trying out.

So yeah, that’s me right now.