I mean, on paper it sounds excellent. I’m an editor for an indie and a genre press, both with some nice awards under their belts; I’m a freelance formatter and a published fantasy writer; and I’ve bounced around the writing world enough to hopefully have some interesting insights about the whole thing – plus if Rachel is anything to go by, the group’s going to be super interesting and chatty, so that’s going to be great.
But it involves ME talking about ME and trying to make myself sound INTERESTING and ARGH.
(I did have one friend give me a funny look when he found out I was doing it. I had to assure him that I can actually speak pretty well in public, thankyouverymuch, even if I tend to be more reserved in private. Humph.)
Well, when I started 2018, I had a bunch of aims – mostly for 2018 to be less shit than 2017 was. I wanted to have a better year, finish some old writing (mostly my Dresden files and possibly Madcap Library, with a side order of No Man‘s) and start something new, improve me (aka. get out of the house more), and read more.
Well, I sort of turned my life upside-down in April when Rebellion offered me a job, and since then this year really can be summed up as “What the hell happened?!” – in a really good way, but seriously…what the fuck?!
I have a new job working alongside amazing people – I get to read varied, complex and interesting fiction on a daily basis, alongside doing admin, organising, talking to a whole bunch of interesting people, formatting, and generally loving everything I get to do. I have a new relationship with someone that I adore, and who thinks I’m splendid (their words!); I have two frickin’ annoying and absolutely adorable cats, and two equally frickin’ annoying and adorable housemates (mostly joking about the annoying bit – love you, guys); I have a bunch of fabulous and wonderful friends who make every day better; I live in a beautiful city; I get to walk to work through a stunning landscape that makes me dream; and I have a life around me that is astonishingly and unexpectedly wonderful every single day.
I do still miss everything; I miss Ryan and the pub and my cat, and the relationships I walked away from. I miss being able to do random DIY, challenge myself with projects, laugh at old jokes. I miss the memories and the experiences and the comfort.
But I feel like the last few years have paid off – they were worth every lesson and every struggle. I am ridiculously, wonderfully lucky, and I am so, so grateful to everyone and everything around me that has made this year amazing.
So, how did I do with my aims?
1. For 2018 To Not Be As Shit As 2017 Was
Yup. Blasted through that one!
2. Something Old
Hmm, this one’s a bit more variable.
I did get the Dresden Files writing up, and I’m so happy with that! It’s still scary, but I love it. I’m just getting the last bits of the final story up, and then it’s all there.
Madcap Library is still in formatting, and it’s simply fallen to the bottom of the pile.
Greensky…don’t ask. (Yes, I STILL need to finish Book 10!)
No Man’s is all ongoing, as is Shadows.
3. Something New
No, but…I think I might be excused on this front! I’m still doing bits and drabbles, so at least there’s still something there.
4. Improve Me
I think kicking Depression’s ass, along with whacking a whole bunch of weasels, definitely counts as improvement! I’m walking every day, drinking more water and less caffeine, and generally feeling better about myself. In terms of other improvements – I got my SFEP membership and I’m still doing my formatting (plus I’ve been learning so much at work), and I’m slightly accidentally revising a whole bunch of history knowledge thanks to wandering round various museums with friends (Ashmolean FTW!)
As for “Don’t Be A Hermit” – well. Yes. I think between working at Rebellion (my boss commented with some astonishment that I seem to know more of the staff in six months than he’s met in 12 years…whoops!), conventions, friends of friends and general havoc, I definitely haven’t been a hermit.
5. Read More
Um. Yeah. This definitely hasn’t been a problem.
That said, most of my reading has been for work, and I am missing doing personal and freelance reading – so actually, this may stay on the list!
So, overall, it’s been a ridiculous and wonderful and amazing year. It’s been hard, yes, but I’ve coped and learned and battled and I can do this.
Bears Den are my latest album purchase, along with Frank Turner’s Be More Kind (of which Blackout is my favourite!)
I’ve also – on the urging of a friend – resurrected my singing playlist again, so I can learn things, and added some new and some new-to-the-list things to it! Currently I’m learning Take Me Home, Country Road (yes, I know, but it’s a good one to walk down the track with) and Son of a Preacher Man, reminding myself of Lazarus by Porcupine Tree, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For by U2 and Even If It Breaks Your Heart (Will Hoge’s version), and I’ve got Bastille’s Oblivion for when I’m feeling braver! – I can hit the high notes, just. It was a good test of my lung and courage capacity last time I was learning to sing, so I’m up for giving it a go this time…
Despite feeling snuffly and tired, I got myself to BristolCon 2018! (Well, with the help of Sammy and Joel, who assisted in dragging me out of bed and into a car at a far-too-early hour of the morning…)
It was a much more chilled BristolCon than I’ve had previously; as I was expecting to be on the Grimbold stall for the day, I hadn’t booked myself in for any panels, and only had a few people that I was wanting to see. It was a definite bonus to arrive and find a wonderful gang of people that I did want to talk to – including the ever-deadpan Dave Hutchinson, Pete Sutton, Chloe Headdon, Stephanie Burgis, all of the Grimbold team (including our newest arrival, 5-week old Lia!), Anna Smith-Spark, Anne-Mhairi Simpson and Nick Hembery! It was great to meet faces that I either knew and hadn’t met in person, or were completely new – and to manage to snatch words with old faces too (hi Bav!) and catch up with some people I’d briefly seen at FantasyCon.
I got to one panel on books that the panellists held dear to their hearts, despite problems; the GOH interview of Joanne Hall by Roz Clarke; and Pete Sutton’s launch of Seven Deadly Swords, which I edited – and is excellent, by the way. Historical thriller. Go read it. Beyond that, I was mostly chatting or chilling or sitting at the stall.
I did get more of a book haul, though! Two freebies from the goodie bags; Journey to the Centre of the Earth and The War of the Worlds from Wordsworth Classics. A copy of The Magicians from the freebie table, along with Stranger of Tempest by Tom Lloyd, The Affinity Bridge by George Mann, Autodrome by Kim Lakin-Smith, and a random copy of Your Favourite Band Cannot Save You by Scotto Moore.
So, congrats and general awesomeness to all the volunteers and organisers – everything seemed to be running smoothly and it was an excellent con! And lovely to see everyone who was there – including all the people I spoke to or met that I haven’t managed to mention!
I’m now absolutely exhausted after two cons in a row plus a busy week at work, so please forgive me if I’m not entirely with it for the next week…or I may just have my nose buried in a book…
So I heard a piece of wisdom back when I was a teenager that I’ve carried with me ever since: it’s something along the lines of, “being grown up doesn’t mean you suddenly know how to do everything. It means you get more situations that you’ve encountered before.”
It’s always been reassuring when I’ve been feeling weird about Being Grown Up, but I’m finding it’s applicable to Doing Scary Things, too. The more I do them, the more experience I have, and the less scary they get.
I was thinking about that recently when I did a two-and-a-half-hour drive to Cambridge without really thinking about it – and four years ago, I HATED driving! Even doing the 15 minutes to work really scared me. Now? The Cambridge trip was fine! And I volunteered (reluctantly, and with a lot of nerves, but knowing that I could do it) to drive a van to London – and I did it! Twice!
The more scary things I do and the more I gently push myself while I can, the easier things get when I feel like I can’t do something – because I’ve then done it before. I’ve got courage to spend at the moment, so I’m using it by walking new routes, eating places I’ve not been, talking to new people – none of which sound like much, but they’re all anxiety points! I’ve sung in public; asked someone out; volunteered for public speaking; sorted company tax accounts; shared some scary writing…
It’s all still terrifying. Driving still isn’t something I choose to do if I can help it; I’ll get the bus or walk instead! Weirdly, it’s usually parking that’s the anxiety point, because I can mostly control everything else – but because I’ve pushed myself, driving is now a much more viable option, and it means I can help someone else and drive a van when I need to. And that seems to hold true for most of my anxiety things; pushing myself means I add new skills, and it – so far, mostly – means I decrease the anxiety around it.
It’s still limited, though, and that’s something I have been careful to remember. I was honest about my limitations and fears with the van – and I was right to be, because I did struggle, and thanks to having said (I am so grateful for a mental-health-friendly workplace and boss!) it was all sorted out. I was careful to plan and research my trip to Cambridge so that I removed as many of the potential anxiety points as possible; I knew where I could park and what to do at the junctions that could be problems, and that meant I could deal with everything else with a bit more equilibrium. Even with restaurants, I’ll ideally go with someone else who’s been before, stay behind them, give myself time to see how it works. It’s pushing myself, but it’s also knowing where my limits are – but even that is because I’ve been here before, and I know what I get scared about. I can push that.
And when I’ve done it once, I can do it again! Adulting ftw!