Sunday, 30 December 2018

2018: Things Fall Apart

2018 was a rubbish year.  I guess you probably don't need me to tell you that.  I don't know anyone here in the UK who's had a brilliant time of it over the last twelve months.  I mean, wherever you stand on the Brexit debate, in practice it's been a life-sucking, debilitating mess that's dominated the news like a black hole, while every other of the multitude of problems the country's facing has been shoved aside.  Spiraling food bank dependence?  A dysfunctional transport network?  A disintegrating health service?  Horrifying levels of child homelessness and poverty?  Mate, who cares, we're trying to Brexit here!

And yeah, I know this blog is supposed to be about my writing, but my Gran died a few months ago.  It wasn't unexpected; she was very old and no one lives forever.  But she was a tremendously independent woman and I'd always hoped that was the way she'd be able to go out.  Instead, thanks to a misdiagnosis by first paramedics and then hospital staff that led to her being sent home the night she'd had a severe stroke, she died miserable and confused.   And, you know, I don't blame the paramedics or the hospital staff, not really: I blame the cuts that placed them under such impossible pressure, I blame the politicians that imposed those cuts, and to a lesser extent I blame the folks who refuse to listen to these sorts of stories and keep pretending that all's well.  At any rate, her death, and the circumstances surrounding it, have cast a long shadow over the year.

Though, let's face it, the writing side of things has been fairly dreadful too.  I was supposed to have two books released in 2018, and as you might have noticed, that hasn't happened.  Judging by Amazon figures, the one I did get out, The Bad Neighbour, appears not to have done at all well.  Its main misfortune seems to have been being something of a square peg in a round hole as far as Flame Tree's launch line-up went, and so not getting near the readership I'd intended.  Meanwhile, the third Black River book, Eye of the Observer, has run into ... well, I suppose "problems" is the word, though it seems a small one under the circumstances.  The book's finished and I'm really happy with it, but whether there'll be another as was once planned, whether it'll come out in its present form, or when it'll come out at all, are questions for the publisher to determine rather than me, and at time of posting they're yet to do so.  I mean, I'm sure it will be released, and I absolutely promise it won't come out in a form that doesn't do its predecessors justice, but beyond that I can't say.  And months of not knowing whether you'll get to finish the series you've been putting your heart and soul into for three years?  That's not been much fun either.

All of which together means I probably won't be writing full time for the bulk of 2019, or maybe at all in any significant way.  At time of posting, I'm effectively out of contract, with the Brexit cliff edge and all that entails less than three months away.  Frankly, I could really do with an income.  And as much as this is what I want to do and all I've ever wanted to do, I guess I could stand a break.  You can only bash your head against the same wall for so long without wanting a breather.  Likewise, you can only send so many unanswered e-mails and chase so many late payments and watch so many opportunities fall apart due to the indifference of others before you wonder what the hell it is you're doing.  I love writing, but everything that surrounds it has been a horrible slog for rather too long now.

Anyway, sorry to be so bleak!  Let's finish up with some good stuff, eh?  I ran the Swaledale marathon for the first time in two decades, that was pretty cool.  I'm finally getting round to my long-term goal of learning Japanese.  I got the platinum achievement on Bloodborne, which really was quite difficult and life-consuming, but also a ton of fun.  I've seen some truly great movies and more nineties anime than any human being could ever possibly need.  I got short fiction into a couple more of those gorgeous Flame Tree anthologies and sold a story to The Dark, which people apparently liked a lot, something I didn't altogether expect because it was tremendously weird and personal.  And more than anything, 2018 has reminded me that I have some wonderful family and friends.  Though even there, a couple of them I'll be seeing a hell of a lot less of thanks to - you guessed it - Brexit!

So yeah, I'm all out of positivism.  Go away, 2018, and think about what you've done.

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