I always get introspective at the end of the year. That whole look back and think, "Did I win? Did I lose? Do I get a prize?"
Well, perhaps not. The year was, as all years are, a mix of good and bad, though I am largely content at the end of it, so I'm good. Certainly, I'm in a better place than I was in 2005, which really tanked in those final months. Still the start of the year saw the end of the doctorate, and A Year in the City and the large section of academic writing that went with it. By the time the markers reports rolled in, I was well and truly over the whole event, and so it has all been a bit of an anticlimax. However, part of me is now itching to go out and start on something big again, and 2007 is going to be the year in which I write Across the Seven Continents of the Underworld, which I'm thinking will take me the year. Better than the four I had for A Year in the City, however.
Fiction wise, it was a good year for me, with 26Lies and the short fiction and other things I had published. Good, not because people have liked the work--though they have, by and large, and that's nothing to overlook--but good because I'm content with what I have produced. Being content with what you do is, I think, the most important thing, because it's against everything else that you judge it. Hopefully at the end of 2007 I'll be in the same head space, but there's no guarantees, and what steps forward I've made can slip away if I'm unlucky, unproductive, and just plain stupid. But for the moment I will bask in my sense of contentment, and leave it at that. Certainly no one else is going to feel the joy for me.
I do wish work hadn't been so skint this year, but I'm hoping next year will improve on that. Some real money, some travel, girls in different countries. A chance to have amusing, but ultimately failed experiences in the world, or something like that.
The truth is, however, I don't know what to expect from the next year, and I don't have any real plans. I'm not one of those people who have five year plans, or one year, or five months, since I find them a bit restrictive. I go where life takes me, and I worry about the details at the time, and it suits me just fine. There'll be some fiction next year, and Black Sheep will, I am more than sure, be released. Finally. Don't ask me the release date, because honestly, I've no idea, but it's inching its way, slowly and slowly, to falling into the already bloated book market. With any luck it won't sink and disappear, and it'll find its audience, just I hope 26Lies will. It's hard work, this books finding audiences stuff, and I've no idea how to work it from my end, so I'm sure the year will be about learning how to hustle. But outside fiction and a bit of criticism and finding real money, the year is an unknown quantity, and I reckon that's just fine. I can at least pretend there will be giant robots that I can send Siamese midgets out to pilot.
At any rate, one of my favourite things was that I got to read for pleasure pretty much the entire year, and while there were a fed duds, I was mostly kept happy. Here are my two favourite books of the year: