2013: Looking back, moving forwards

fahrenheit-451-unisex-t-shirt-9218-p[ekm]250x250[ekm]That was a short year, though technically of course there is no such thing. But it definitely raced by for me. And as always, there were plenty of plus and minus points. I’ll ignore those negatives that revolve around the continued piecemeal destruction of education, culture, health and democracy in general by those over-privileged and hypocritical bastards in Westminster, otherwise this will be a bloody long post indeed (and although calling David Cameron an inbred piece of llama shit is edifying, it doesn’t help me finish any of my ongoing projects).

So instead, here’s a randomised list of things that happened to me, for good or ill, over the last 12 months. It is by no means complete – like the politicians, some mouth-breathers aren’t worth mentioning by name. More positively, of a slew of genre-related Xmas gifts, here’s an absolute gem, off to yer right…

  • HTTN still lives in submission limbo. You might call that a failure; I actually call it a success. To have a greatly-respected genre publishing house hold onto it for 18 months and then have to argue over the decision gives me a massive confidence boost. If at any point over the course of this next year I feel down and shaky, I can look back on that with pride. And most importantly, it doesn’t end there. HTTN may be in limbo, but it is out there. Stay tuned.
  • Meanwhile paying the bills is fortunately not a problem. I’m not been known for embracing change (and I was working for a company that thought likewise for 15 years…), so March and April were a massive shock to the system. It’s taken a while to sort out how I feel about that. On the whole it has been positive – I’ve found room to write, and the weeks no longer seem as long as they once were even if the hours are a little longer. Less stress equals more creativity. And qualifications too: a full Personal Licence and proper First Aid training – it might not sound like much, but I didn’t come away from the other lot with much in the bag…
  • And speaking of creativity, the latter half of the year saw a sudden surge in words and ideas. The birth of a brand new “superhero” character, the nascent return of Dale Sharpe’s favourite wizard Pigeonwick, a whole broadside of stories aimed at an exciting new UK micro-press… and of course the completion of Cassia’s tale in HKV (so when somebody else realises how good HTTN really is, the sequel’s good to go too!).
  • Oddly, for the fantasy fan I am, I couldn’t be bothered with the Hobbit movies at the cinema. I say odd because you couldn’t keep me away from LOTR a decade ago. For whatever reason, I just haven’t felt compelled to see these films. On the other hand you’d have needed to tie me down to keep me away from the Doctor Who 50th anniversary celebrations. Oh, if Big Finish ever get John Hurt aboard…..
  • I’ve read a lot more than before. That’s largely because of the Kobo (ah, convenience!), but also because I’ve had more time in the day. See, it’s all good!
  • Not so good was some of the news that came out of SFFland. I’m glad I missed the conventions season, given some of the reports I’ve read. Alasdair Stuart was a redcoat at Brighton’s World Fantasy convention last autumn, and here’s his verdict (from the Fox Spirit Books site):

I’ve seen things, to misquote Roy Batty, that would make you go ‘…Wait, you’re supposed to be a grown up? You’re the industry leaders whose standards we all have to aspire to? SERIOUSLY?’

I’ve seen authors ignore some of the first people to beta read their first book as they pass in convention hallways. I’ve seen authors pick fights they had no business being anywhere near or comport themselves on Twitter in a manner that suggests their ASSHAT UNION membership card has arrived and they’re just so pleased they can’t wait to show it to everyone.

It’s not just authors either. Bloggers who’ve picked fights for no reason other than they can, journalists who’ve started fights they can’t finish then played the victim card and run. I’ve seen celebrity authors pampered and sucked up to by the same editors who let out streams of invective as high pitched as they were ineffectual at people who they thought beneath them. I’ve seen ‘fans’ race to pour scorn on anyone who dared to like something they didn’t, or sneak pictures of an old, tired, ill man because it might be the last time they were in the same room as him and God forbid they should treat him like a human.

I have so much more. I have an amount you wouldn’t believe of stories of people being dicks. Objectification by both genders, high school cliquery, bullying, the sort of cult of personality bullshit that makes you want to not just leave these people’s company but shower and not stop until you feel clean again.   Fandom, and I actually cringed writing that word, has shown the world it’s ass over and over in 2013.

  • There was no AltFiction unfortunately, so I went to EdgeLit in Derby instead. While it was fun, it felt smaller than usual. I didn’t witness any of the poor behaviour there that Alasdair lists (and in fact I met Alasdair himself in his guise as a masked fox…), and I’d hate to think that I might be guilty of any of those behaviours, but I don’t think the smaller cons are usually subject to such asshattery. I may be wrong of course and I stand to be corrected. I can’t help noting however, on a far more positive note, that I was a member of the team that won the Quiz that evening. I shall return to defend my part in that title! 😀
  • Good books: there were plenty of those. Anne Lyle’s Merchant of Dreams, a reread of the entire Tales of Einarin quintet by Juliet E McKenna, Rod Rees’s Demi-Monde, an awesome ARC by Antoine Rouaud, more Doctor Who stories than you can shake a sonic screwdriver at, the second of Ian Sales’s mind-bogglingly hard SF quartet, the start of Thomas Harlan’s bonkers alt-Roman Oath of Empire, Larry Niven’s Dream Park (another re-read, not as good as I remember)…
  • Sorry, just got distracted there by mince pies. Mmmm. Taste the difference.
  • Anyway, before I start waffling over-much, it’s time to go make the best of the New Year. If I don’t see you at a con this year, then maybe I’ll see you in a bookstore. Hey, you never know, right?

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Epic Fantasist & SFSF Socialist.

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