One of the scariest things about getting older is the ever-increasing rapidity of the passing of time. I mean, how can it possibly be three years since I launched Leighton Literature? I was in Beijing at the time, my second stint, and between then and now I’ve been to Korea, Singapore and Malaysia, travelled all around Thailand and lived in Cambodia, Scotland and Spain before heading back to China again. It’s literally felt like the click of a finger.
It feels very fitting that my fifth short story collection, Challenged in China, has been the biggest test to date of my so-called writing skills. My first year in in The Big Filthy was a culture shock like no other, an experience that made all my previous travels seem like a piece of cake in comparison. I kept an informal blog that year for family and friends, so I had a wealth of notes, thoughts, photos and emails to draw on. At a whopping eighteen chapters, this has also been my longest set of tales by quite some distance.
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.
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.
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.