And now the end is near

December 31st 2015

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Not so much near, as here. It’s always a bit odd, as far it goes. New Year’s eve is just another night, like all the others before it and after it. Nothing even happens in astronomical terms: it’s no solstice or equinox, that’s for certain. And these days, it doesn’t even mean that you spend the next few weeks having to rewrite cheques, because you’ve got the date wrong. I’m struggling to remember the last time I wrote a cheque.

And, of course, there’s the enforced reminiscences. I’ve just gone through all the blog posts from here, and all the things I put up on the Book of Face, simply to remind myself what I’d got up to during 2015.

1. Running. A lot of running, in fact. I never used to see myself as a runner, or even someone who’d enjoy running for itself. I used to play football, before I became susceptible to one particular injury that’d leave me flat-out for a week at a time. Football involves a lot of running, but mainly short sprints stretched out over 90 minutes, and not the sustained running for much longer periods. Then I moved on to cycling and swimming and walking, and never thought that much about running until a couple of years ago, when the Girl needed someone to take her to Parkrun, and … bang. I’m up to 94 Parkruns, and on a flat course, I can get home in under 26 minutes. I can also do a sub-1 hour 10k. I could go for longer, and that’s one thing I’m definitely aiming for in 2016. That, and regularly breaking the 26 minute barrier at my local Parkrun.

2. Writing. A lot of writing, in fact. Two novels (The White City and The Alchemist’s Dream), one novella (At the Speed of Light), one short story (Diggers). That’s roughly 220,000 words. But that still only works out at just over 600 words a day. And even though I’ve had no books published this year, I genuinely feel like I’m at the most productive I’ve been for a decade. I got to speak at Greenbelt again this year. I read out a story at the mid-summer Phantoms at the Phil. I’ve changed publishers – Orbit to Gollancz. I’ve a new editor (more by accident than design, and Simon, if you’re reading this, you were brilliant, and thank you) (and Gillian, if you’re reading this, you are brilliant, and thank you). I’ve more projects, finished and potential, than you could shake a word-covered stick at. So I’d like to get moving with those, while still creating new things next year.

3. Ancillary stuff. You all know about The Alchemist’s Dream game already: that’ll get showcased at Eastercon, but also other times and places too. I’d like to have made at least one serious attempt at getting a games manufacturer interested by the time 2017 turns up. More mountains: I spent a week, mostly on my own, in the Cairngorms in high summer, just walking through forests and up glens and along ridges and up to windy tops: I’d like to do that again. And use my writing in different areas: there’s a whole world of screenwriting and non-fiction I haven’t really explored, or had time to explore yet. Let’s see.

If there’s one bit of advice I’m going to try and hold on to, it’s going to be this. Be bold. Which at first sight, is a bit odd, but this will mean me taking risks. It’ll mean making mistakes. It’ll mean failing. It’ll mean getting up again and doing it better. It’ll mean not writing safely or easily, and leaving myself open to criticism. It’ll probably mean upsetting people. It’ll mean not apologising, when my first instinct is always to avoid conflict. I have no idea how this is going to manifest itself, but I have all year. And if I look like I’m slacking off, you have permission to remind me of this.

Watch this space.

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