It’s the time of year for new beginnings, new goals, positive life changes – a brand new you!
And as 2019 gives way to 2020 we embark upon a new decade, prompting greater reflection on where we are in our lives and where we would like to be when 2030 rolls around in around three years’ time (now that time seems to operate in dog years).
We all know that most new year resolutions are doomed to failure. Change is hard. We tend to be creatures of habit, safe in our comfort zones, sticking to what we know. There’s a reason that nostalgia sells. It’s far easier to feel the pull of the familiar and succumb to its warm embrace than it is to embrace the uncertain and unknown.
So most of us will carry on doing what we’re doing already, even if what we’re doing is bad for us. Toxic relationships, miserable jobs, unhealthy lifestyle choices – it’s amazing what we can adapt to if it means we can stick to what we know.
Which brings me to my new book, A Familiar Stranger.
The connection isn’t as spurious as it may at first seem – however convoluted the journey, trust me reader, I will always meander my way around to a point.
A Familiar Stranger, my second book, is a poetry collection. And I have to admit, I’m a little nervous about its release. I’m out of my comfort zone, venturing away from the familiar.
Despite the very personal nature of my first book, Something Changed, I wasn’t concerned about the response that it would receive. I was satisfied both that I had something of worth to say, and that I had said it pretty well.
I read somewhere that the job of the creative is to create, to express themselves as honestly and authentically as possible. What other people think of it is not the creator’s business. Once released into the world, the creation ceases to belong to the creator. The work takes on a life of its own, belonging to everybody with who it interacts. All opinions are valid, and none of them are the creator’s business.
I love that. That’s not to say it’s easy. We become attached to our work and any criticism of it can seem like a criticism of us. But it comes with the territory, if you’re going to put yourself out there you need to be prepared for whatever praise or criticism comes your way.
I found it pretty easy with Something Changed to be honest. It helped that the reviews and feedback I received were overwhelmingly positive – questions about my virility notwithstanding.
Publishing a collection of poetry makes me a little nervous though. Why? Because poetry is a form that comes with a certain literary heft. I haven’t studied poetry, until last year I hadn’t read much of it. I don’t know ‘the rules’. I don’t know what makes a poem good.
I never set out to write poetry. With a pen in my hand and a notebook open in front of me, poems are what tend to come out. Some people doodle, I write a poem. I don’t know why and, to be honest, I don’t know how. It just happens. And I love it.
I love finding the right words and arranging them in such a way as to convey a particular feeling or emotion. I love doing that using a real economy of words (basically, not waffling on; and as someone that has rarely been accused of having little to say for himself, this represents something of a departure for me). I love finding the rhythm, the rhyme, the heart of each poem.
But away from the labels of ‘poet’ and ‘poetry’ all I am really doing is what I’ve always done – playing around with words to express myself.
I’m proud of how I have expressed myself in A Familiar Stranger, and there are few better feelings than being told that what you have written resonates with and means something to others.
So, it is with a mixture of pride, excitement and nervousness that I release A Familiar Stranger into the world.
It now belongs to you. And, despite myself, I hope you like it.
I look forward to hearing what you think.
Behind the title – the meaning of ‘A Familiar Stranger’
Think you don’t like poetry? Think again.
From the author of Something Changed: Stumbling Through Divorce, Dating and Depression, comes the debut poetry collection, A Familiar Stranger.
This collection of contemporary poetry explores the challenges of modern living, from the social to the spiritual, from the political to the deeply personal.
Exploring love, loss, loneliness, mental health and the search for meaning in suffering, along with more prosaic, day-to-day concerns like being stuck on hold, business doublespeak and a heated encounter in a local bar, A Familiar Stranger contains something for everyone.
Praise for Matthew Williams:
‘A talented writer with an important message’
‘Funny, honest, brave’
‘A true shining light of hope and guidance for us all’