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I’m Still Here! An Update on Grumpy Gay Critic

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It’s been a while since I’ve published anything, or said much at all. So here’s an explanation of what’s going on behind the scenes at Grumpy Gay Critic.

For those who know me better, they know that the worst question you could possibly ask me is, “How are things?” There are times where I make soap operas look mundane, and I’m often left wondering why it is I love theatrical drama and review as Grumpy Gay Critic despite the fact that there’s so much of the real stuff going on in my life at any given moment.

Self-deprecation aside, the last few months since my wonderful jaunt in Edinburgh have been tough to say the last. Whilst at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I received a work promotion (which is a good thing). However, staffing levels at the time meant that when I returned from the fringe festival I had to take a temporary lead over another department for the two months which is busiest time of the year for us. Despite the fantastic support from my colleagues, who all pitched in and supported me for and which I’m supremely grateful, it still meant that for these two months I was putting in up to 50 hours a week.

When working this intensely, it’s not only difficult to get out to see shows, but it’s also very difficult to find the time and the state of mind to write up a review, especially when mine are around 1,000 words and take anywhere between 2 – 3 hours to complete from first draft to final proof. So my output on Grumpy Gay Critic not only dropped significantly, but for some shows I was only able to do a #FreshOffTheStalls video review for, in one case, none at all (which is very bad form).

To add insult to injury, I then came down with the flu. Not “man-flu”, actual “two-weeks-signed-off-work-by-the-doctor flu”. Although I’ve been back at work for a fortnight, I’m still very much recovering from my illness. On top of that, I’ve been having to deal with depression, stress, and anxiety issues that have been exacerbated by my sickness and workload.

What’s happening now?

Well, work is back to a more manageable state, and I’m pretty much now able to stick to my 37.5 contracted hours per week. However, my promotion unsurprisingly means I have more responsibilities. This means that I really will not be able to review as many shows as I used to, as I now have less time to do so. However, I will certainly be looking at exploring #FreshOffTheStalls and alternative formats as these require less time to produce and finalise: although these are certainly works in progress.

There’s a real issue that I don’t feel is being addressed enough in the usual “future of criticism” discussions, and that’s the sustainability of good bloggers and independent critics. The vast majority of bloggers, like myself, work full time as well as careering around London’s theatres to review shows in the evening. I’ve seen several decent and established publications and bloggers have to give up reviewing because of work commitments (What’s Peen Seen? and Civilian Theatre to name but two), and I’m seriously having to consider the feasibility of sustaining my ability to review as my work circumstances change.

However, this does not I’m giving up! I have managed to grow Grumpy Gay Critic through 10 months of unemployment and three job changes, as well as coping with a lifetime of ongoing mental health issues. But the current turn of events has given me very hearty food for thought about blogger circumstance and opportunities to blog: specifically my own.

At the same time, this does also mean I’m not going to be back to reviewing shows for Grumpy Gay Critic immediately. For starters, I still need to settle into my new role and be sure that my workload is under control before I’m comfortable in committing myself to any reviewing. Furthermore, much like I really need a holiday from work (which I’ll be taking shortly), many reviewers also need a holiday from reviewing from time to time. Therefore, I’m not expecting to be returning to a full flow of reviews until late November at the earliest (just in time for Panto).

Whilst I sort myself out, it doesn’t mean I’m going to be as idle as I have the past month. Before I throw myself into the critical breach once more, I will be looking at completing my stats analysis for the year so far, as well as working on a couple of opinion features that I’ve been wanting to do for a while.

So, apologies to all the shows emailing me about reviews for which I’ve not been able to reply to, and a “sorry, not sorry” to all those who think they were finally rid of me! But I hope people look forward to me being back to full grump soon.

Yours curmudgeonly,
James Waygood
Grumpy Gay Critic

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