Some things from 2007, hello 2008

Happy new year, everyone. I hope you celebrated in a suitably reserved/hedonistic manner. Or that you successfully ignored the whole rigmarole, as may be your wont.

A brief overview of 2007 appears to be the current trend amongst blogs. I lack the patience to dwell overly much on this, but in short it’s been a mixed year for me. I started a new job which finally gave me some financial security, but which ate up more of my time than I was prepared for.

It wasn’t really a great year for writing. I’m clearly still burned out with reviews – most of the few that I have written this year were done a little reluctantly. I guess it’s starting to feel less interesting and a bit too much like work. Then again, perhaps it’s just that the other demands on my time have seemed more attractive. I’m not going to give up, anyhow. I’ll also persevere with my writing, even if the bulk of what I’ve done has been flash fiction.

On the same subject, a few of my flash fictionist comrades have posted lists of their favourites. I figure I shall do the same. In total I posted 15 flash stories, which averages out at slightly under three a month. This is better than I had thought.

I’ll pick out three particular favourites:

1. Grey Matter: I really liked the main character’s voice in this one. It took a long time to write. The story itself is a first-person narrative from the perspective of a homeless guy, set in a cyberpunkish near future of megacorporations, implants, and social/economic inequity. The original ending involved a murder, but I much prefer the alternative ending I used, which is an endearing twist on social status symbols.

2. Slip It In: The best thing about Friday Flash Fiction as a writing exercise is that, when you’re not being lazy and posting something half-arsed that you wrote in a lunch break, you can really run with ideas and styles that you wouldn’t ordinarily use. With Grey Matter I experimented with voice. With Slip It In I tried to experiment with a concept that comedically blended cyberpunk themes and concepts with anarchic, playful punk symbols and attitudes. For those less up on their classic punk rock, Slip It In is one of Black Flag’s “dumber” songs, and the, ah, intruder is a digitised caricature of frontman Henry Rollins. In essence the story itself is about a malicious prank. You can read more into it than that, but that’s for you to do if you wish, not me.

3. Vote Now!: Anyone who chats with me about matters pop-cultural will rapidly realise that I have TV issues. As in, I really don’t like it. For the most part the shows on offer are lowest common denominator bilge that panders to the worst and laziest in us. In recent years I’ve softened somewhat, recognising that there is great TV out there like Deadwood and The Wire, but I remain content that my shared household lacks TV reception. Anyway, this story is a darkly humorous piece that satirises the “reality TV” of the noughties, with its reduction of the significant (on TV, human relationships and responses to difficult situations; in the story, war and genocide) to the banal. In the ad breaks, the Space Pope will try to sell you Pepsi.

I wish I’d done a bit more with the concept for Vote Now!, but I ran out of time. Ditto some other almost-favourites, like the flawed Satisfaction or the lazy Terminator, both of which were built on interesting ideas but were poorly handled, and would have benefited from being told differently.

But then, we’re all our own worst critic. Except for that really weird one who posts pigeon shit to your home address.

* *

2008 ought to be a good year. I’m optimistic that I’ll put more effort in to my hobbies this year. I vary in my approach to NY resolutions, and haven’t made any yet as I want to give the matter serious thought. But amongst other things I’m hoping to pick up the guitar again – and this time to not allow glorious pastimes like Team Fortress 2 and drunken dancing to bring back my RSI. My band Go Team Kill! really must happen.

I’m also hoping to continue posting Friday Flash Fiction every three weeks out of four; more if I can. I want to do some work on older stories that I’ve effectively finished and just need to go over again, and then submit them to various markets. It’s ridiculous that I can describe myself as a writer, but spend 18 months sitting on a story because I’ve yet to give it a few more hours of work.

As for critical stuff, well, I hope that it begins to seem more fun and interesting again. Some of my reviews this year have been fun to write. The Taqwacores and Diary of Indignities spring to mind in particular. Neither is a genre book, but both were immensely appealing and entertaining to both read and write about.

In January, I also want to clear my backlog of reviews (including an Elastic Press title that I’ve been “working on” for about 16 months – I think I find my 3,000 words of notes slightly intimidating). Wish me luck!

I also wish to try my hand writing more about music and games, as both interest me and occupy much of my time. This is a world away from the more academic language and style of reviewing books, but despite my tendency towards lethargy I do actually appreciate a challenge.

* *

A final and light-hearted note. Over on Velcro City, Paul Raven writes of his [unnamed holiday] present to himself, describing it as “a perfect and equal intersection of geekery with rock’n’roll”. Aha, I say, aha! Check out my birthday present to myself, which arrived on the very last day of 2007.



Ignore the grotesque beardiness up at the top, there. I’m well overdue a trim. Besides, you shouldn’t be looking at me. Observe, instead, the thick-armed glory of the design. How sweet is that? And how’s that for two legitimate Rollins references in one post?

I wore this shirt out on new year’s eve, and every one of my bandmates failed to get the joke. Some people lack the edukashuns in punx.

And finally… I hope you all look back on 2007 with some fondness, and that you all anticipate 2008 with optimism and hope.

2 Responses to “Some things from 2007, hello 2008”
  1. Paul Raven says:

    Oooh, result. Hank on a T-shirt, bit o’ class. I think we must call this one a draw, old chap! ;)

  2. Shaun CG says:

    Perhaps this time – but I still haven’t found anything quite as ace as “SCIENCE FUCKING FICTION”. ;)