I actually reviewed a lot of things here this year. Some of my best:
Best music: The Hold Steady, Stay Positive. Reviews
Best movie: Wall-E. Review
Best news: Obama wins. Posts
Here I sit, at our family place in Nelson Bay, thankfully feeling better (but hardly perfect), and planning our night’s activities, and thinking about the year that was. Only about five hours left in the year, and it’s certainly been a varied one.
Really don’t go for all that “year that was” stuff, so there’s really only two things I want to mentioned here. I wrote a bit over 450 blog posts this year — at least one for every single calendar day this year. That’s more than twice as many as I’d written in the entire 6 and a half years of the blog prior to that, and I’m really pleased with my efforts. Obviously they’re not all gold entries, but I’m more interested in the regular effort and the regular committment to keeping this going, something I haven’t been on top of enough in previous years. So top marks there, and here’s to another year of full-on blogging!
Until November, I thought it was going to be another dud year for my fiction writing. Then a couple of things happened. We finally sorted some finances out enough to get ourselves new laptops — I got an eeePC 1000 — and I entered the NanoWriMo competition. Incidentally, I didn’t actually pass that, writing 26,000 words in November, but then I wrote another 20,000 words in December. I’m at 46,000 words as of now, this month’s effort slightly curtailed by Christmas activities and the illness of the last few days. But still — 46000 words of fiction written in two months. I expect to finish this novel draft in January, and even if this one doesn’ t work, I’ll go straight on to a new one. This sort of word count seems amazing, and it’s more fiction than I’ve written in the previous 2-3 years. It should be mentioned that the laptop brought new productivity, via reclaiming my time spent of the train every day. I get upwards of two hours every week day on the train, which with my laptop means at least 1000 words every week day. Of course, it seems harder to write anywhere else, but I’ll take what I can get.
So those are my two great activity triumphs this year. Regular day job stuff has been way more mixed, to the point that I hardly even want to mention it. And for 2009, that’s either going to get much better or much worse very quickly. But that’s the way of the world I gues, especially as is being forcast for 2009. Would rather not concentrate on that!
So, if I don’t post here again until the new year, Happy New Year to all, be safe, have fun, treat those close to you well, and enjoy yourself. First up for the year will be blog highlights, New Year’s Resolutions and a look at TV highlights for the coming year.
Caught the first episode of the new TNT series Leverage this week. Have to admit that I’m predisposed to liking it already, as I’m a fan of series co-creator John Rogers, and have followed his blog for several years now. So I’ve been following the making of Leverage for sometime, and been waiting for its premiere.
And it’s pretty good, which I expected. It’s in the same category as other cable series such as The Closer and Burn Notice — they might not be The Sopranos or The Shield, but they’re damn good, damn well-made and damn entertaining dramas, often with some humour.
Leverage is essentially a heist series, about a group of thiefs and con-artists led by an honest ex-insurance investigator, Nathan Ford (Timothy Hutton). After being baited into a job that goes bad, they set about conning the executive who tried to get them. It’s both familiar in its approach, but original in its depiction of this high tech world.
After Ford is recruited, he meets his team, series regulars Hardison (Aldis Hodge), Eliot (Christian Kane), parker (Beth Riesgraf) and later Sophie (Gina Bellman). While elements of this will seem familiar (a couple of older series, plus the obvious Ocean’s 11 connection), the dialogue entertains and the characters are drawn with vivid immediacy. All the thieves are kind of crazy, but that’s the point.
There’s all kinds of fun touches, from the geek references (read Rogers’ blog long enough and you know where they’re coming from) to the high tech gadgets and trickery (another Rogers favourite, though no doubt co-writer Chris Downey plays his part). All the actors are good in their roles, and the first story is entertaining while have some good twists.
The scenario of taking down corporate wrong-doers seems familiar, yet I can’t really place any other major examples of it. TV is full of crime drama, but mostly it’s either the mundane reality of murder, drugs and theft, or the extremely stylised world of evil genius serial killers. Leverage is somewhere in-between — and in an age of half the planet being screwed over by corporate malfeasance, it seems particularly timely to have a show about a gang determined to take down this category of usually very hard to catch criminal.
As said earlier, it’s a familiar genre and the show has familiar touches, but it’s well done (never underestimate how hard it is to do pop entertainment very) and very entertaining to watch. Will definitely be following this series.
I’ve noticed at the moment that most of my posts during the week are link posts, which is fair enough, because barring a major event, other than the fun few hours at home with the kids at night, all the action is on the weekends anyway, and week days you’ll find the most interesting stuff is what I’ve been reading online. So I don’t just post links (through delicious) anyway, but I give them real explanations and context. It’s always been about posting for my own records as well, but I hope that people out there find them useful as well (which is apparently true, as I noticed about my Cafepress link post last week.)
But weekends are where all the fun is of course. It’s counting down to Christmas now, which you can hardly miss, especially with young kids. I don’t think we’re taking Will shopping again until after Christmas, because he’s driving us too nuts in the process! When he finally has Pixar Shorts in his hands, I don’t know what he’ll obsess about…
Did a little shopping again, and just to be different, we went up to Rouse Hill, which is only about a 15 minute drive away. But it wasn’t what I expected at all. It’s basically a whole new community that was opened early this year and built in only about 18 months. The surprises started in the parking, which was full of high tech sensors telling you where empty spots were and the parking vacancy rate. Never seen that before.
When we got in there, I really just expected another shopping centre, and it ended up being nothing of the sort. It was largely one level, with open plazas, tonnes of natural light, and lots of space. It was more like a town village centre than a shopping centre. And while it did have all the usual things, it was a pretty nice shopping area to visit. It’s not too far from home, so while Westpoint just up the street and best for the routine stuff, this Rouse Hill centre isn’t bad at all.
As for everything else, the writing is going pretty well on a day to day basis, not so much on the weekend but I’m happy to take what I can, if it’s regular. Hopefully I will have it done at the 50,000 mark by Christmas. If by new year I can say “I’ve done a full novel draft”, that will be amazing. A whole novel first draft in two months? Before this I couldn’t even do that in two years, seemingly.
Two months? That’s what I call victory.
I see that the month of November is over, and that I have not reached 50000 words for NanoWriMo. And I don’t care.
I only reached 26000 words in fact, but that is still more words in one month than I’ve written (fiction at least) in about the last five years.
So this is a victory. It’s really got me started again. Sure, I’ve had some issues later in the month, and some isues with the story I chose (but there’s plenty more where that came from), but to write 26000 words in four weeks (and almost none of it on weekends) is really quite magnificent.
And the key is that I won’t stop there. I’ll be straight back into it tomorrow. I have to decide whether to continue with the current project, or go somewhere else. Or go back to the old 2nd novel of old again. I can’t jump projects too often, but I can’t get mired in one project too long either.
But this is the start I’ve been looking for. And already it’s good, even if it wasn’t 50000. In many ways, this is better than just that competition
My writing has begun again.
Just a real relaxation day today. Went into Coona to see the Sunday markets. Somehow I take a little money out intending it to last until we go home, but instead spend most of it this morning. It was on presents for everyone else of course, and various food. Spent some time in the park with the kids until Will got worried about the giant geese there, which I could see his point, but as usual he was a bit over the top about it. But he did enjoy the slide immensely while we were there.
And damn, it was cold today — crazy cold, like Winter again. Even snowed in many parts of the state. Ridiculous stuff for late November. Is this going to be another rubbish Summer, weather wise? Worse than last year even?
I haven’t written much this weekend… doubtful I’ll do 50,000 words by the end of the month. But I don’t care really — if it takes me 6 weeks to hit that number, that’s still brilliant, and it’s still such an extraordinarily larger total that I’ve managed in practicaly the last 6 years. This NanoWriMo thing is a triumph even if I can’t fit the total… if it gets my work practices going again and making me productive, I win anyway (not to mention the eeePC helping that too.)
Not even sure if the story I’m on is working right, but again that doesn’t matter. Instead of spending 8 months jus thinking about it (which I spent half this year doing), I spend 4-6 weeks writing, then see if it works right there, and get the writing practice regardless of whether it works or not. If it works, great, if not, I just move on to a different project. won’t write it off yet, as I know it needs a tonne of editing after this first draft anyway.
It’s such a good process to actually be making this work (as in just producing pages, regardless of final product), so that counts for almost everything right now.
I was going to write something about writing as a business again, then I realised there isn’t much point, and that I have to concentrate on the writing itself, because nothing else matters until you have that down.
Fair progress in NanoWriMo — I’m just behind where I should be, but it’s a margin I could easily make up, provided I do enough when I’m away next weekend, and keep at it day in day out till the month’s end (and go nuts in the last two days!)
Not a bad go — got more done this weekend than last, but still not much today. So that has to improve. And I really have to write anything to a degree… just get it on paper, get it done, make it happen. Iron it out later in rewrites.
And I found this comp today: 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award , which looks good, but more remarkably is actually open to Australians. For that fact alone, I really need to enter it. they don’t take entries until February, so I will actually have stuff to show by then. This is a good opportunity, no matter what happens. Just remember it’s on when The Hold Steady are here
Really great day at home today. Was feeling a bit ill from last night, so was able to get up fairly late (9am, ha!), quiet morning, getting back into it. Actually got a good amount of writing done today, which is a change for the weekend, but by the end of the day, probably not as much as I should.
Then late in the afternoon, had that great family time outside, with Alex and Will riding the tractor, and we play cricket, and run around, and they’re just generally being kids, and damn it’s wonderful, regardless of what I write here.
Then dinner — if anyone ever tells you to just buy fish and chips, don’t listen to them. I had a couple of nice pieces of fish I bought from Woolies (DeCosti, so good fishmarket stuff), then I made my own chips, added mushroom and onions, then some steamed vegetables as well… magnificent. And a lot of good healthy stuff there too. But it was pefect cause I made it myself
Watched Dave Chappelle’s Block Party — great music, great message. Watch The Shield episode 11 — damn that’s getting hardcore now, and close to the end.
After thinking that I’d screwed up over the weekend, with drastically less writing for the NanoWriMo project than I’d hoped, the first two days of the week have proven both just how much time I have available on the train, and surprisingly, what a good environment for writing it is if I actually get myself in the groove.
And the groove today has amounted to over 2500 words (in a little over two hours writing time overall), which is pretty damn good I would have to say.
More tomorrow. It’s good to get a reasonable night’s sleep after all this
Late now… did manage to watch a Daily Show marathon including the election night special. Magnificent stuff!
Have found however that writing on the weekend, at home, seems far less easy, even though I should be loaded with free time for it. But I guess I’m loaded with more distractions too.
Hmmm… will have to see what I can do there.