2010 in review: more shit about me
Here’s what you’ve all been waiting for: the 2nd part of this 2-part blog post in which I gaze at my navel and discuss the epic history of some stuff I did in 2010. Part one is here.
Other writing & projects
It was a very quiet year for fiction. I wrote one flash fiction story (here) and worked on a few unfinished short stories. It’s a shame to have let this lapse but equally I think it’s been beneficial to let those fields lie fallow for a bit. The itch to write stories is returning, and thanks to thinking rather than doing I have some ideas on how to improve my weaknesses as a writer of fiction (chiefly that my characters tend to be of a type or flat, and my prose lacks descriptive character and colour).
I only wrote one review for Vector last year, which was This Is Not A Game by Walter Jon Williams. Alas I’ve not yet seen it in print because my copy of Vector went to my old address.
I reviewed the debut issue of Re/Action magazine as well as #231 of Interzone. So, very few short fiction reviews last year, but it was good to dip a toe back into that pool towards the end of the year, and it was a different kind of challenge to review a feminist media magazine.
Most of my book reviews appeared in the first half of the year. I reviewed music books about 80s US punk rock and 80s/90s post-hardcore, a book about US corporate skullduggery, a bizarre vanity project, a really excellent biographical comic, and a couple of genre novels (one of the latter reviews has also been repurposed for Vector but I’m not sure if it will actually be appeared).
I reviewed a beer festival, which was particularly fun to “research”. I also wrote a bit more about film this year, with reviews or posts about Four Lions, Triangle, Inception (which I’ve still not actually seen), and the new Harry Potter (published this year but written in December). Alas my Pontypool review still isn’t finished but will be soon. I may write more on film next year but at the moment I just enjoy dabbling.
As for games, I had a couple of posts about Mass Effect 2 (a very good game but not as “massively affecting” as my early experiences indicated), as well as reviews of Blood Bowl (atrociously broken netcode on the 360) and a trio of indie titles: The Terrible Whiteness of Appalachian Nights, TimeFcuk, and DeTweet.
At some point I was supposed to be working on some indie games with Kerry Turner, with my words and her code and our collaborative game design. We came up with some neat ideas for a seance-based game but it kinda tailed off. We may yet do something but will have to wait and see.
Kerry, myself and a number of other friends are also working on setting up a group games blog. You know, because the world needs more of those! Anyway, as yet there are only two of us who have written anything for it, and one of the two already has his own games blog which he updates at least once a week. It’s a project that needs a kick up the arse, frankly. If we do get the ball rolling it should be a lot of fun. That’s actually our mission statement.
Oh yes, and I did some copywriting for money. It was quite dull, I’ll be honest, but trying to make holiday destinations sound exciting at the same time as providing cross-linking and SEO opportunities was another unusual challenge. If I ever went freelance (not likely) it would be a good to way bring in some bread.
It would also be nice to be writing in more places that aren’t NFI. This may be something I’ll look into this year. I drifted away from writing for other people because I don’t work well with deadlines and dislike not knowing when something I’ve written. Not to mention the joys of overbearing editors (though I’m happy to say that every editor I’ve worked with in the last four or five years has been a delight).
On a personal level, 2010 didn’t feel particularly special. I moved into a new flat which I’m much, much happier in than our old place (which I loved, but which was also a tip and it was making me genuinely unhappy trying and failing to stem the tide). I got a promotion at work, which was nice – new challenges, was bored of the old job – but also has the downside of being much harder and more demanding, and I also got tripped up over pay. Still, I’m getting more dollar during a major recession, and I can hardly complain about that (too much; I am British after all).
I saw most of my friends not as often as I’d like, and my love life is still notable by its absence. Looking over everything I’ve written above, though, I’m not exactly surprised that I don’t have more time for other people. I’ve always been very independent and quite reclusive so I figure that affects the way I choose to spend my time too. Still, I’m sure the people that know me have some inkling of what I’m like and how I spend my time. Besides, it means y’all value / despise the time you spend with me all the more, right? Right!
I’ve been a lot more content this year, after ’08 and ’09 involving lots of the fun twins depression and insomnia. Overall I’ve spent 2010 in considerably more positive headspace. This has been awesome.
On the negative side of things my gym-going massively tailed off. I guess that happens to everyone. I’ve not spent as much time practicing guitar as I’d like. As mentioned above I’ve not written much fiction at all this year, despite a friend and I forming a writing club to chivvy ourselves along. These are all things I’ve resolved to work on in 2011, a year I’m feeling pretty optimistic about personally. I also suspect it will be a year of rage which will make 2010 pale in comparison, and bear in mind that 2010 saw the British public finally getting pissed off enough about the shit they’re made to eat that they took to the streets in large numbers to speak their minds about it.
I can only hope that the nascent student, anti-cuts and anti-corporate tax dodge movements continue to build momentum and grow in number, because I genuinely believe that if the Coalition is permitted to pursue its neoliberal agenda unchecked Britain will not only be a crueller, harsher place to live, but also take many more years to recover from the devastating recession brought on by the banking crisis. I’m contemplating getting more involved with some local political groups – socialists, the Green party (I live in the ward of Britain’s only Green MP), or the various anarchist groups. On the other hand, that takes a lot of time, and I don’t have much to spare, so I’m kind of torn. It would be nice to write more about politics but while I’m always game for an argument or discussion, I lack confidence when it comes to writing about political and ideological matters. Still, perhaps that’s something I could do. Hell, I could always write more posts slamming our craven media and its propensity to internalise the language and perspective of authority. If I put some swears in and name-drop rightwing commentators then that is guaranteed many hits.
If you’re still reading: I hope your 2010 was excellent and your 2011 is even more rad.