January 8th, 2006


2005, finally

Doing this the same way as figg. Small words, chronological order.

Start the year up in Edinburgh, drinking and writing. Start as you mean to go on.
I handed in my notice at my old job. My boss looked distraught. I grinned.
I got a flat in Edinburgh.
I told people that I quit my job because I had a better one in Edinburgh, ending lots of secrecy.
My notice period at work was spent writing and hacking together game ideas.
Moved into flat here, started job, and generally felt better than I had at home.
Became a torchbearer for Beltane.
Spent the latter half of May and my birthday in the US with coaldustcanary.
Came back and realised how many people I knew up here.
Didn't get to watch much of the G8 riots due to working.
Went home for the first time since moving, and hated it.
Thought for a day that I was going to be arrested for the murder of grendelsmere.
Was published for the first time (in a gaming book, but even so).
Got two more writing contracts.
Organised torchbearers and stewards for Samhuinn while working on the above contracts.
Worked a 55-hour week for the first and (hopefully) last time.
Introduced the world to Artemis Hemingway.
Spent most of December drunk.
Went down south for Christmas and carried on the tradition.
Back home to meet coaldustcanary.
Spent the new year thoroughly pickled.

Things to Do

They're late, and they're not resolutions, because frankly resolutions make little sense. I'm going to blatantly steal from artbroken:

There are three kinds of New Year's resolutions:

1 - Stop doing something you really want to stop doing. Sod resolutions, just stop.

2 - Start doing something you really want to start doing. Sod resolutions, just start.

3 - Stop doing something you actually want to keep doing, but feel like you oughtn't do/want for some wacky reason. Sod that, life's too bloody short and boring already.

Bugger goals. Act. Or don't, and don't worry about it.

I will say however that I think he's wrong on one point. "Bugger goals" is a fine sentiment when one is partaking in a year of setup for the big things, like last year was (my "goals" for last year had all been achieved by the time 2005 started). I have a list of goals I'm going for this year.

1. Get published, fucker — Not to denigrate RPG writing, but I don't want that to be the sum total of my work that other people value enough to print. I've been writing less due to moving and contracts, but that doesn't destroy my need to write. I aim to get a bare minimum of one non-RPG thing published this year, through a non-vanity press. Which practically means sending off a short story to Analog or Interzone or wherever.

2. Year of war — I used to be physically fit, indeed there was a point when I didn't have any form of beer gut and I actually had upper body strength. This is when I was still very much into martial arts and kicking the shit out of things really worked. This year, I'm going to get back into that. I've talked about it a few times, but my goal is at least one belt under my (metaphorical) belt by the end of the year, perhaps more.

3. Exploding heads — I get stressed easily. This turns into one of two things: anger or depression. My standard way of medicating both of these things is with booze. I'm becoming more and more aware that this isn't the way to go. I want a chance to get drunk without the stress or depression. I know it happens, it's just too rare at present. Hence, I'm going to change that.

I was trying to think of more, but to be honest those are the three major goals I've got for the year forthcoming. Time to get to work.


Updating a lot today. This is because I've been thinking a bit over the weekend, but this is the first time I've had chance to get them out of my head and onto LJ. Hence the infoglut. I'm also slowly chipping my way into a more structured set of tags.

This is a sort-of-response to aarondb's post about where his life as a writer is going. Because, as with so many things, I'm coming at some of the same sorts of thoughts and situations from a totally different direction.

See, Aaron's one of these people who's always wanted to be a writer. It's obvious to anyone who meets him, that's his one obsession in life: getting things into words. He's chosen to do that, and honed himself like a laser on that one pursuit. He's laid back enough that most people don't notice the intensity that he has, but believe me it's there. He's emblematic of most freelancers (and indeed writers) that I know, who spend most of their lives writing in one form or another because it's what they do.

I've not got that. Or rather, I don't just have that. I have a need to write (anyone who's seen me scribbling notes in the pub knows that), but I can't give up everything else to pursue just that. I have a love of computers and mathematics, and I've got a decent job that lets me put that into practice. If I gave that up to devote myself to writing, I'd not like myself at all. I actually like my job, for the most part, and it gives me a chance to do things I otherwise wouldn't get motivated to do in the first place.

Aaron said:

I know it's risky and I know the wisest thing would be to get another full-time job and tap away at the novel when the chances arise.

But there's a sense of opportunity, here. A feeling of Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained. It's like I have to harness this energy while it's around and easy to come by.

And that's the bit that hits me. Because ultimately, that's what I'm doing. Whether I'm writing my own stuff or plugging away at a freelance chapter, I'm just filling in the cracks when the chances arise. Admittedly, I make some of those cracks by the age old system of not sleeping and driving myself insane, but I don't have the energy and I don't have that feeling, because it feels like I've already devoted my life to working and hacking systems and fucking with numbers for people. Writing's something I do in my evenings and weekends, and while I do enjoy it I have to be honest with myself and point out that freelancing all that I could still wouldn't be bringing in the ~£18K a year I'm on now. I have these moments when I wonder why I bother writing for cash at all, since it still after these years feels like it's no more than a hobby.

Which is weird, because most people don't have a hobby that acts like an addiction. Most people (who aren't writers) don't compulsively consume paperbacks at a rate of one per week minimum just to keep the brain ticking over and analysing the language. Most people don't spring out of bed at four in the morning with a half-formed scene or a perfect twist to a situation that needs writing right fucking now. That's not a hobby, it's somewhere between a calling and a psychological disorder. And I've got it bad.

I need to write, but I can't take me-as-writer seriously, I can't conceive of dropping the day job and working part time or agency, because then I'd be denying one of my other loves as well as making myself a hell of a lot poorer, simply to make money doing the other thing I love. So instead, I have moments when I feel like I don't know what I'm doing, and moments when I feel like what I'm doing is shite.

But fuck it. I'm self-identifying more and more with at least one facet of the archetype that is the writer. In many ways, I'm as much a writer because of the job — I happily sacrifice lunch breaks, evenings, and weekends, to get words down — as I am despite it. And I'm not just a writer. I can still claim hacker and mathematician without a word of a lie.

But sometimes, it feels like being all of them is less than being one of the three. That's something that does keep my brain ticking over when I'm lying awake with nothing else to think about. Oh well.