Rubbish strewn across a street as onlookers and traffic mill around uncertainly.

Oh! What A Lovely Year

It’s a minor tradition for me to look back on the year gone by in terms of my own insignificant life and write a little something about it here on my site. This tradition will probably make more sense once you know that I used to have a LiveJournal.

2014 has been an ugly year in terms of the wider world. Video games has been shaken by the largely appalling and embarrassing GamerGate fiasco. The science fiction and fantasy community flared up, albeit less cataclysmically, over the revelation that Thai author Benjanun Sriduangkew was also the famously vitriolic blogger Requires Hate. Book reviewers around the world were left appalled by Kathleen Hale’s deeply worrying over-reaction to a negative book review, and debate still continues as to what place ‘negative reviews’ have (the short answer is ‘a central one if you are interested in anything other than an eternal circle-jerk’).

On the wider stage things were even worse. To focus on just a few examples, we saw Ukraine virtually in a state of civil war, the optimism of the Arab Spring fade still further as Egypt’s new military junta secured its power base, Libya descend further into chaos, and Syria’s civil war achieve what most people thought was impossible: become worse, thanks to the sharp rise of ISIS. As for Iraq and Afghanistan, once the poster children for the now tarnished concept of humanitarian intervention, perhaps the only part of those unfolding tragedies that can still be described as surprising is that there are still those who believe that the role of the UK and its big buddy has been a net positive.

Meanwhile, in the UK itself, the 1960s racist comedy troupe UKIP have come to dominate the political debate as parsed through much of our appalling media establishments. I miss the days when they were ‘just’ the naff racist party whose MEPs you annoyed with jokes at their expense on twitter. It’s not like anti-EU MEPs have anything else to do all day, except blame everything on foreigners getting rich off the benefits of large bureaucracies without doing any actual work.

Given all of this, it feels deeply solipsistic to spend much time reflecting on myself. But that’s what this post is supposed to be about, so here goes.

At the beginning of the year, I went freelance. Although not all aspects of this have worked out as well as I might have hoped, it was absolutely the right decision to leave my old job and to try something bold and new. The entire year has replete with learning experiences and whilst you’re not going to be seeing my byline whilst eating cornflakes every morning, I’m proud of the writing I’ve had published.

I’ve also taken some freelance QA work, some of which has involved interesting new challenges and has rekindled my interest in that kind of work. As I’ve said before, I won’t go into that because of non-disclosure agreements but also because it’s largely dull to talk about.

I’m not sure what 2015 may hold for me, but right now I’m splitting my time between writing (which is the most fun and interesting) and QA (which is more consistent and pays better). This seems like a good amount of variety but it may be that I ultimately need to make a decision one way or the other.

It goes without saying that I hope 2015 is a better year for we human beings crawling on planet Earth. It would be a good start if more individuals recognised the value of criticism, and if we all became better at understanding and working with our own prejudices and problematic behaviour. But perhaps that is too much to hope for.

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