I know it’s cheating to wait until the new year to roll out your review of the year just gone but I wanted to get my website launched before I did, and I did that yesterday. So please forgive the tardiness of this post. Pretend you’re munching on a mince pie instead of a carrot stick while you’re reading it.
2023, eh? What an absolute bastard of a year. In so many ways. But I find it’s good to try and balance things out a little. Some bad, some good. On the one hand, you’ve got the inexorable societal slide towards fascism, the planet continuing to boil from the heat of our own collective ineptitude, the replacement of human endeavour with ‘machine learning’ and someone putting the biggest idiot on the planet in charge of some of the most important bits of it. On the other, um…. the third episode of The Last of Us was pretty bloody good, eh?
So it’s fair to say it wasn’t a great year, on a global level. But on a personal level, well, it wasn’t great either, in a lot of ways. But I’ve been doing these end-of-year accountability roundups for nigh on twenty years now, in one form or another, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let a little thing like the terminal decline of all of human society get in the way of it.
Normally in these posts, I would go through all the things I set out to do at the beginning of the year. But I’m not going to do that, this time, because, well, I didn’t do any of them. In January I buried my Dad, and the long tail of that meant that I quit writing for a long time. I spent the year also settling into a new job, and then a huge chunk of the year was spent being properly done over by mortgage companies (and Liz Truss) as I bought a new house. In fact, that latter is about the one thing I did manage to achieve this year.
Instead of going over what was bad about the year, then, I’m just going to highlight some stuff that was great this year.
Last year I somehow managed to go to four festivals, and what more, come out of the other side as an actually functioning human being, despite being in my 40s. Okay, so by the end of ArcTanGent that was a pretty 50/50 thing, but this year I managed to see a raft of proper bucket list artists (Depeche Mode, Hundred Reasons, Gary Numan, Primal Scream, Devin Townsend, The World is a Beautiful Place and I am No Longer Afraid to Die, The Undertones, Converge) as well as a load of newer artists who blew my mind (Birds in Row, The Ocean, DVNE, Conjurer, Psychonaut, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Curse These Metal Hands among many many more). Live music remains the greatest drug, and I think I probably saw more this last year than in any year previous.
Moving to the country.
Gonna eat me a lot of peaches. Okay, so it was not like we were living in a city beforehand, but we’ve now moved to what will hopefully be our forever home, a tiny little village that doesn’t even have a pub or a shop. Okay, so it might be marginally better to have both of those things, but exploring the countryside on long dog walks, and having the space to have my own proper office has been amazing. Proper quality of life improvement, even if it’s brought me to the financial edge, as it were. Did I mention that the paperback of Blood on the Motorway is out now, by the way?
Learning, growing, all that jazz.
When I came back to being creative, I spent a few months focusing on learning new design skills, and I’m so glad I did. For years now I’ve been only vaguely happy about the visual cohesiveness of my many endeavours, and now I think I’ve really carved a place for myself visually, as well as in a storytelling fashion. Which is nice.
So, what about 2024? Well, I’m pretty loathe to put many goals in place for this year. I’m very aware of how fragile my relationship is with my writing and creativity, even still. So let’s break it down into some rough areas, rather than hard goals:
I’d like to be able to carry on being a creative, bringing back all of my different books and series, as well as launching a few new things. I hope to bring in a load of new readers and listeners to the fold, and it’d be nice if I could sell enough paperbacks to cover my operational costs for the year.
I know, I know, this is probably the twentieth time I’ve had this as a goal and in that time the needle has most definitely gone in the wrong direction. But I mean it this time. I’m starting January in a good place, with the right mindset to shift a bit of weight and get a lot healthier. It would be good if I could get my ADHD diagnosis sorted this year, but that’s out of my hands.
We’ve got a lot fewer plans in the diary this year, and I want to take the time to enjoy the area we live in, to go see more of this beautiful part of the world. I basically live in Hobbiton, so I should get out of this office more. I want to read a lot more, spend less time on social media, enjoy more great music, see some live bands, and just… be happy.
Doesn’t seem too much to ask, right?
*Opens a generic news website*
Oh, yeah, right.
Good luck, everyone.