Monday, 9 January 2017

2016: A is for Andrei Rublev, B is for Babymetal, C is for Cat Sisters

So, I've blogged already about what fiction I had out in 2016 - a novel, a short story collection in both paperback and hardback, a novella and the first issue of a comic book miniseries - and I've got to say, I'm hellaciously proud of all that.  I had some work out last year that I'm seriously pleased with, long, short and in-between, and that's no small thing.  Frankly, if 2016 had just been about the writing I had published then it would have been an infinitely better experience.

Now, it seems petty to grumble about a year when almost everything seemed to go wrong for almost everyone, but boy was that a rotten twelve months, practically from start to finish.  Sickness and surgery, professional setbacks, insurance nightmares, house problems, money worries, family health scares - it was just nonstop.  And even the publishing stuff, which looks impressive on the face of things, wasn't so good in practice.  Almost all of 2016's short story acceptances, for example, actually belonged to submissions made in the tail end of 2015.  Even then, it would have proved a high watermark year for sales had a small publisher by the name of Time Alone Press not reneged on the $300 they owed me, having strung me and sixty or so other folks along for more than a year.

But that's a subject we'll return to when I have more time, and also the extent of my complaining, because in time-honoured tradition (my own, established all of a couple of years ago) I want to take this opportunity to list a few of the good things that happened in what history's probably going to end up calling Year Zero or something equally portentous.

- Thanks to Ian Sales, I got back into World Cinema in a big way.  There have been amazing directors making amazing films all around the planet for, like, a century now.  Who knew?  Well, lots of people, obviously, me included, but I'd drifted into some awfully lazy film-watching habits and I'm immensely glad to have drifted back out.  Again, largely thanks to Sales and his pernicious influence (and gifting of surplus DVD box sets) I've been bingeing on works by people like Haneke, Herzog, Kieslowski and Tarkovsky, as well as discovering many a new director I'd never heard of and rediscovering some old favourites from my days as a shut-in cinephile teenager.

- Same goes for music.  This has been something I've been experimenting with ever since I started
writing full-time, really, but 2016 was the year when my tastes got distinctly strange.  From J-Pop to Trance to Post-rock to African Blues, I feel comfortable in saying that my listening over the last twelve months has been on the eclectic side, and that I now have a pretty interesting CD collection - if only in the sense of that ancient Chinese curse, "May you have an interesting CD collection."

- I'm steadily getting back into shape.  I hope to have a crack at a Fells marathon later in the year, because, why not?  Okay, there are plenty of reasons why not, and they all start with "Hey, Tallerman, you do realise that running a marathon over actual wilderness is probably going to kill you?"  But let us not think too much of such reasons, or I'll bottle it before I ever get started.

- The benefit of having non-stop house problems and spending an inordinate amount of money I couldn't afford is that the house I bought five or so years ago as little more than a brick shell - sans heating, carpets, a shower, or much of anything else - is now finished.  Oh, sure, there are jobs I still want to do, it's probably in the nature of a more-than-a-hundred-years-old house that there's eternal scope for improvement, but all told it's a nice home these days.  And somehow the staggering amounts of work that have gone into the place only make it feel more special.

- And, as anyone who's even glanced at the blog will probably have noticed, I've been having a great deal of fun with the nineties anime watching.  That's drawing towards an end now, I think, partly for the reason that I've absolutely exhausted the limits of what can be reasonably found and partly because, let's face it, there are limits to the amount of nineties anime that any one human being can watch before they start to expect giant robots and tentacle beasts around every corner.

- And then there's the big - the very big, and the actually book-related - news.  Which is that, as of about a week ago, I've signed a contract for another novel.  If you're following my career even slightly then you can probably guess what it is, but the official announcement will be along very soon.  My promise to myself was that if I didn't have money coming in at the end of this third year of writing full-time then that would be the end of the experiment.  But I do, and it isn't.  This is, on a personal level, one hell of a thing.

Whatever global catastrophes await in 2017, I can't imagine that it's exactly going to be an easy year for me personally.  By no means have I made it, whatever the hell that would mean.  But I get to keep doing the job I like most and think I'm best suited to, and that surely has to count for something.  And I'll have at least one new book out.  This is exciting stuff, and definite forward progress!

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