Saturday, 23 December 2017

End of Year Blog

Christmas is a great time for reflection on the past year and for thinking about the next. Some mixed news this morning: I just read a piece in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that suggested that the solutions to climate change are emerging faster than ever. This seems a hopeful development that I hope bodes well for the future.

This morning also featured a rejection of a story submitted to Nature Futures in September, prompting the usual not really rational fears that all my work is futile, and that I'll be destined to toil away in obscurity for the rest of my days.

This needs to be balanced with considerable successes this year: most recently a reprint of a story on the Little Blue Marble website, which will be appearing in their ebook anthology soon.

I’ve also completed a tonne of writing. This includes completing a novel, drafting and redrafting several short stories, reviews for BSFA and Strange Horizons, and guest blogs for Milford and the UK SETI Research Network. I have also completed a novel submission to a publisher which counts as a success even if, as is most probable, it gets rejected.

I’ve had a range of exciting experiences, including attending and presenting at the UKSRN symposium in Manchester, appearing on a podcast, attending Milford Writer’s conference in September and Fantasycon despite illness. I've also had two spiritually informative visits to Samye Ling.

On the ‘Discovery & Adventure’ side of things I’ve flown in a Cessna twice, which was an exhilarating experience. The Lincolnshire/Norfolk coast seems a different place from the air.

So in all, 2017 has been a year of ambitious and bold experiments. They haven’t always panned out, but looking back I’ve learned from each and every one of them, including my ‘failures.’

Looking forward to 2018, I would like to keep working towards a life and career that works for me, on my terms where possible. This includes continuing to work towards self-employment, or a mixed model where I’m not dependent upon one income stream.

I want to be less intimidated by cultural bullies and the generally shoddy state of the UK currently. The general context seems rather poor to me: there is a sour mood in Britain right now, noticeable in most public spaces. The consequences of frankly appalling political and economic planning will no doubt play themselves out over the coming year, and all an individual can do really is make allowances for that and not become immobilised by circumstances that they're powerless to prevent.

Despite these general constraints, next year could potentially be very exciting. For example, there is Follycon coming up at Easter, with Kim Stanley Robinson, my favourite SF author, attending.

I am also in the preliminary stages of planning a climb up Mount Tiede in Tenerife (so long as it doesn't erupt, that is....) This is a significant mountaineering challenge, as the volcano is 3718 metres high, which is over three and a half times higher than Snowdon. It is the highest point in Spain and the third highest volcano in the world. I am considering doing this as a charity challenge.

This is also a fascinating site from a space art point of view, as the landscapes around Tiede resemble those of Mars and other extraterrestrial bodies in the Solar System. NASA calls these terrestrial analogues. With this in mind, I’ve rejoined the IAAA and hope to use the trip to get some images of the landscape for paintings. Exploring a wild, alien terrain also greatly appeals to the frustrated astronaut within.

In short, I want next year to be less ruled by fear and more a place where I can continue to grow personally, revitalise my career and also offer a small continuing contribution to the ongoing wellbeing of humans and the planet. I am past tired of feeling boxed in by circumstance and want to bloom. Let us hope that this is possible in 2018!

Merry Christmas!

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