Obligatory 2015 Retrospective

Dry Jan.

I always thought it sounded less like a detox month and more like the name of a bad hooker.

Whatever. I’ll do it.

Things got a little out of hand in December. They always do. I reckon my average booze intake for that month was a bottle and a half of wine and two cocktails a day. The older I get, the more I feel these things. And it’s nice to wake up without a fuzzy head.

So, Dry Jan.

Yes.

Let’s see how that one pans out…

I suppose I’d better give you the obligatory 2015 retrospective about now.

I started the year with a fucked up knee because I had been wearing Cuban heels (pic above). Thankfully, things improved from then.

I travelled.

Chambery, Berlin, Paris, Bali, Florence.

I have a pretty nice life, which is something I feel strangely uncomfortable with. It’s not like I long for the days when I was hiding behind the sofa until the bailiffs gave up knocking, but there is a certain disparity between then and now. I’ve touched on this weird guilt before and I’ll end it there for fear of repetition.

Lighter things…

Best book I read? Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me. The novel was released in 1952, but unlike a lot of fifties noir, it hasn’t really dated. In fact, it’s a mesmerising, shocking piece of misanthropy. I love first-person antagonists, and Lou Ford is one of the nastiest and funniest I’ve encountered. The writing is snappy and the plot rattles along like a train with no driver. It’s a lean, brutal novel.

Films.

Owing to the fact my health insurance gifts me 2 free cinema tickets a week, I saw almost every blockbuster released in 2015, bar the endless, incomprehensible comic book movies (although I did watch half of Ant-Man on a plane before falling asleep).

I loved Star Wars. It made me feel like a kid again (which was a long time ago, in a provincial town far, far away).

But best film? It’s got to be It Follows, right?

If you haven’t seen it, I won’t ruin it for you. No spoilers in these seas. However, from the wonderful cast to increasing feeling of dread to the Carpenter-esque soundtrack, it ticks all right boxes and then some. And that closing shot…Jesus.

I got very bored with TV in 2015. There’s a Breaking Bad-shaped hole on the small screen right now. I think we were spoilt with that show and I keep waiting for something better to come along. It doesn’t. But this is no bad thing – less TV means more time for reading and writing. I think the show I watched most in 2015 was Eggheads. Yeah, I know…

eggheads1_3197200b

I think I’ll remember 2015 most for deciding to embark on this writing stuff with a certain amount of dedication.

I remember when it first sparked in my brain. I was sitting in a house in Chambery. I can’t ski, so I was alone and I was bored. There was a roaring fire, several bottles of Pinot Noir and I was listening to Charles Mingus’s Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus. I started plotting out a novel, scene-by-scene. Eventually, I thought I’m pretty good at this shit. Maybe I’ll give it a proper stab.

One 80k manuscript (since discarded on draft #2), nine short stories and fifty-two blog posts later, here I am. Irritatingly, I didn’t achieve my goal of writing an entire novel and releasing it in 6 months. I know now that was a little optimistic. But 2016’s looking pretty good…

I am going to release a few things. Short stories, mainly. I have a solid plan and the world of self-publishing is not the daunting, exclusive club I once thought it was. In fact, I’m quite excited about it. And I’m not a man prone to getting excited.

One of the main reasons I feel so good about this new venture is you guys.

I started this blog without a clue. When I decided to write – or at least attempt to write – my first place for advice was the Internet. You know what the Internet tells you if you look for tips on writing?

 Fuck off.

Writing’s hard and you’ll be terrible at it if you try.

Leave it to the professionals.

I didn’t like that very much, so I started this blog as a reaction to all the negative assholes who have written a slew of patronising pieces dissuading people from pursuing literary goals.

As a result, I expected the reaction to my blog to be mostly negative. I thought these bitter guys, ego-bruised at not becoming the next James Patterson, would attack me in droves.

Snide one-liners in the comments.

Twitter spats.

But there was nothing. And while I was a little dismayed at the lack of conflict (I love a good fight), the support and kind words of you lot more than made up for it.

I really wasn’t expecting the positivity.

So, as December’s alcohol and nicotine exit my body through my pores and my temper, I’ll keep in mind that if it wasn’t for 2015, 2016 wouldn’t be looking so rosy.

Hopefully my organs won’t shut down.

Onwards!

 

 

6 comments

  1. Good for you. I never make new year’s resolutions. There’s a limit to my self discipline and I’ve already reached it. Are you submitting short stories to literary mags, etc. or are you going to publish as a collection? I’d love to hear how that works out for you. Good luck, Jack. Cheering from the sidelines!

    Like

  2. Don’t you worry, Jack, we’ll start the sniping as soon as we think you’re ready to be roasted. We usually break you in by basting you with kindness to make you feel confident and good about yourself. Then we sneak up behind you and stab you in the back with a kebab skewer.

    Liked by 1 person

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