So, we’ve slipped seamlessly from the end of 2008 to 2009. On Hogmanay, filling in the End Of The Year Club catharsis sheet, it struck me with some force how frickin frustrating last year was for me. On many levels, but mostly creatively. When I got to the section which asked about resolutions (which I don’t generally make, but you couldn’t have an End Of The Year Club catharsis sheet without it), I put:
1/ Complete things
2/ Stop faffing about.
It’d be simplistic, as well as plain wrong, to say that 2008’s various frustrations were solely down to not enough of 1/ and too much of 2/ on my part. There were interruptions, irruptions, intrusions; my time was fractured and my ability to establish a useful routine disrupted. There was a lot of waiting for other people to do things or to be ready to do things too. All in all, it was piss poor. But getting things done and reducing the faffability quotient. These are things I have control over, and steps have been taken to herald 2009 as the Year Of Great Production.
Great beginnings, though, start with endings.
For me, I’m looking forward to completing two long-drawn-out projects – one imminently and the other soon. Writing-wise I’ve been taking a weird kind of pleasure in finally fixing those soft boggy areas that covered up plot holes that I kinda suspected but couldn’t clearly see. That process and the final polishing is virtually complete. And I’ll be glad, so glad, when it is. Music-wise, the gears are rolling again on the long-delayed album. Which in a way has been good because I’ve been able to go back to the songs with fresh ears and new ideas.
So, two big projects come to an end, leaving space for lots of new stuff. My carefully–rationed plan for the next few months includes the creation of a couple of shorts, a novella and the synopsis and first quarter of the new novel. All of which I’m relishing getting to grips with.
Someone else who is relishing getting to grips with his writing again is Andrew Hook. Andrew, the owner, publisher and editor of the multi-award winning Elastic Press, announced in December that he was winding up Elastic so that he could concentrate on his writing. There’s a note of sadness there, of course. Elastic was a superb addition to the British independent press scene. Aside from the eternal debt of gratitude that I personally owe Andrew for bringing The Ephemera to the world, they produced a series of eclectic and fascinating collections by writers of astonishing variety. In addition, their anthology series was also of stellar quality. The good news, of course, is that the world will see much more work from a writer of rare vision and subtle sensitivity, and that makes me excited.
And talking of new material from great writers:
2/ Over in his Cave Of Doom, Jim Steel is quietly announcing a veritable cornucopia of his work hitting the streets, shelves and screens at the moment. Some of you might know Jim’s name from his post as reviews editor at Interzone, but he’s also a hugely prolific writer of dark, sardonic, weird and mordantly funny short stories. Check out recent editions of Twisted Tale, Polluto, Beeswax and Premonitions. If you’re familiar with the SF magazine, Jupiter, you’ll already be aware of Jim’s stories, but if you get the most recent issue you should also look out for a new story by Ian Sales, who also has work appearing in Postscripts. As does the excellent Ian Hunter, and loads of other people that I like, but then Postscripts is just full of good fiction.
3/ Another writer you really should be following is Al Robertson. His stories bring great literary depth together with serious atmosphere and a deep-dredged sense of the weird. He also has a story out now in Postscripts, and working coming up real soon in Interzone and Black Static.
4/ And finally some novels on the radar to look forward to this year: Michael Cobley’s return SF with Seeds Of Earth (Orbit, March); Gary Gibson’s follow-up to Stealing Light – Nova War (TorUK, September) and Jeff Vandermeer’s Ambergris-Noir, Finch (Underland, October).
It’s going to be a great year!