It’s been two years since I launched Leighton Literature one smoggy Beijing morning. Back then I was blessed with an abundance of free time, access to an amazing American-style diner and that incomparable enthusiasm one has towards a new and exciting project. My goals were simple; to share my experiences of a life predominantly spent on the road and to trumpet the music and films that have most influenced me along the way.
Sometimes things just don’t turn out as you’d planned. Err… scratch that, in my experience I’d have to say stuff often doesn’t pan out the way you thought it would. I spent a good three months or so putting together my Belgian short stories. When I was done, I had twelve chapters covering one of the most exciting periods of my life. Some of these tales were by far my most personal to date. As a result, I had to take more care than usual with the content and how they were written, while one or two people had to be consulted along the way to make sure I wasn’t burning any bridges! I thought I’d pulled it off, but then, at the last minute, I had to hit the eject button on half of the installments, leaving the series in a bit of a mess.
It’s Leighton Literature’s 1st birthday!
Does it feel more than a little egomaniacal to wish my own website a happy birthday? Sure, but **** it you only live once.
I can’t quite believe it was a year ago today that I published my first post. Since then I’ve released thirty-two short stories, twenty album reviews and eight installments of my photo series. When I launched the site I was living in Beijing, where a cushy teaching schedule left me with bags of free hours. It was an incredibly productive and fruitful time, some mornings I would set up camp in a local café and slip into a literary coma that would consume me for hours.
It’s been almost a year since I posted the first of my top 20 album reviews! My first post was dedicated to the brilliant debut album Attack of the Grey Lantern by Mansun (No, not Hanson or Marilyn Manson), but reading back over it now and the whole piece feels undercooked. Paul Draper and co deserved better but hey, I was just starting out, finding my feet, feeling my way. Maybe I’ll re-write it one day and get it up to scratch.
I don’t know about you but I’m so relieved to have finally finished my India series! Of my three short story collections to date, this was by far the toughest to put together!
Some of the installments had been written years ago but felt so underwhelming I was forced into complete re-writes. A lack of decent photographs meanwhile had me scrambling around the web seeking out suitable shots I could use without getting into copyright trouble.
It’s four months to the day that I launched Leighton Literature and a timely moment indeed to celebrate the end of my second short story series, The Slovak Files. Putting together its twelve instalments was a real challenge, but also one of the most rewarding projects I’ve ever undertaken.
Along the way I got back in touch with a host of old friends, people who played a hugely important role in my life that year, unwittingly helping to shape me into the person I am today. In addition to catching up and getting all nostalgic, they also provided invaluable memories, priceless insight and old photographs that I gleefully incorporated into my tales. So I really can’t say enough of a thank you to Jon Crisp, Bill Phillips, Myles Dolphin, Jordan Stein and Martina Stolarikova, your support has made a massive difference.
Leighton Literature has received its ten thousandth hit (!) on what is a gorgeous Beijing afternoon, with blue skies, a fresh breeze and sans pollution.
So this is just the briefest of brief posts to thank everyone for their continued support of the site. Whether you’re a regular reader or just popped in for a specific review, I appreciate everyone who has contributed to LL’s growth. Have a great weekend and see you tomorrow for the closing instalment of The Slovak Files.