And so it was, and so it is, and so what? Here’s my year in a nut case: pack it, and get out.
1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before? Sell a novel. (Yeah, there’s going to be a theme to this year’s list…). Acquire an agent. Teach on online writing course. 2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I had 5 goals. I met one. If not for the one big success it would have been a year made of fail. I’ve set some goals for 2012, and am guaranteed to make at least a couple—can you say ‘contractual obligations’, my darlings?
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Not this year. One to come in 2012, it appears. 4. Did anyone close to you die? No. 5. What countries did you visit? I visited Country Road, but it just took me home, to the place where I belong. Which appears to be West Virginia. Weird. 6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011? Money money money money money money. Money. 7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? 26thOctober. “Dear Lee. On behalf of Angry Robot…” The day my career changed immeasurably. 8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Selling my novel. Followed in quick succession, as it was in reality, by securing the services of my agent. Both are big stepping stones in my projected career arc, and achieving them has left me looking forward at an entirely different vista than the one I contemplated at the start of the year. My career has been refreshed in every way possible. 9. What was your biggest failure? Pretty much everything else. Apart from that one big moment, I never really got going this year. It was a year of stagnation on just about every front. 10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Stayed fairly clear of anything major this year, but my base level of discomfort from the accumulated niggles and lack of alignment, was high. 11. What was the best thing you bought? Hmm. I’d say “all the Lego we accumulated”, on the basis that it’s given the kids and I a common hobby and proven to be a household item that has attracted almost everyone to squat down on the floor around the spread-out sheet and share the simple joy of playing and chatting together, except that Lyn might scream and beat me to death with a 16×16 baseplate. I’d also have nominated the good quality vacuum cleaner we purchased with some of my tutoring money which, after a series of crappy off-the-shelf models, is proving to be the super-duper carpet thrasher we’ve needed for years. But I’m going to go with the bikes we got the kids for Christmas: watching the kids ride has motivated us to break our own dust-covered treddlies out of the garage, and decide as a family to ride together at least once a week, weather permitting, and to incorporate riding into all our holiday and day off plans. So, on the basis that they’ll give us a wonderful new outlet for enjoying our family time, they win.
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration? Aiden, once, again, who took on responsibilities beyond his age, and was rewarded with betrayal. Lyn, who worked ceaselessly to provide the family a hub to revolve around, and who continues to put the world before herself.
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? Aiden’s (now) ex-girlfriend, who exposed all her immature failings in one fell swoop, and destroyed their relationship, then continued to act in a manger guaranteed to lose all the good will and care she had built up with our family over the last two years. A former friend of Lyn’s, who has proven herself to be the two-faced hypocrite I have spent years pretending not to recognise for one. 14. Where did most of your money go? As far as I can tell, a small black hole somewhere to the east of the ecliptic plane. Also, Lego. 15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? The upswing in my writing career, that has taken from me from a moribund and directionless short story writer into a new and exciting sphere of possibility. 16. What song will always remind you of 2011? Antisocial Tendencies, by this year’s big discovery, Dog Trumpet. A gentle, yet pained, nod to the personal journeys that make a man, and the understanding that sometimes, being unmutual is part of what you need to be the person you need to be.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:i. happier or sadder? ii. thinner or fatter? iii. richer or poorer? Pretty much level pegging on all counts. Life, for all its current complications, still smells pretty good, and everything else can be dealt with as it arises. Holding pattern, with expectations of movement in the coming year.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Progressing my lifestyle. Holding patterns are all very well, but the view starts to get a bit boring after a while. 19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Losing focus, and being demoralised. A new set of career goals will serve to change that in the coming year.
20. How did you spend Christmas? Building my enormous Lego Christmas present, being teetotal, and picking Aiden up from work. Just like most other Sundays. 21. Who did you meet for the first time? In the flesh, and very briefly, the members of the Perth Adult Lego Society. In the electro, Lee, Marc and Amanda, the Angry Robot luminaries. And the Anxious Appliances, fine fellows and novelists one and all, who gathered around a booth at the back of the imaginary tavern that is the Angry Robot Waiting Club and raised mugs of imaginary ale to our continued health. 22. Did you fall in love in 2011? Nobody new. Kept the view focussed inward, and rewarded myself with enjoying my family. 23. What was your favourite TV program? Horrible Histories wins hands down. An historical sketch show for kids based on the Terry Deary books of the same name, it’s so clever, witty and engaging that it’s become a firm favourite of all of us, and has been on high rotation viewing all year. No contest.
We also discovered the wonderful imagination of Bryan Fuller, a man who writes TV worlds like the ones I want to create in my works. Dead Like Me and Pushing Daisies were both devoured: lyrical, engaging, and delightfully quirky series’ that still managed to be deadly serious and intensly human when it mattered. Wonderful stuff.
24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? No hate, but deep distaste and no small measure of contempt for those who betrayed my son’s and wife’s trust and love. 25. What was the best book you read? More than a few biographies in the mix this year, and the best of the lot was The Mind and Times of Reg Mombassa by Murray Waldren. I’ve been using Goodreads to keep track for the last 12 months, and you can read my review of it here.
Honourable Mentions to:
Charles Manson: Coming Down Fast— Simon Wells
The Man in my Basement—Walter Mosely
Lego: A Love Story— Jonathan Bender
Omni Visions 2—Ellen Datlow (ed)
The City & The City by China Meivelle
There were a few real stinkers in the pile too, and worst of the lot were the following:
Lost in a Good Book—Jasper Fforde
The Enterprise of Death— Jesse Bullington
Heliotrope— Justina Robson
26. What was your greatest musical discovery? Dog Trumpet, the duo formed by Reg Mombassa and Peter O’Doherty after leaving Mental as Anything, combine the quirkiness of the Mentals’ best moments with a simplicity of approach and gentility that really struck a chord with me this year. I also revisited my love of Ian Dury after reading a particularly good biography, and have been luxuriating in the nasty brilliance of his lyrics all over again.
27. What was your favourite film of this year? After last year’s embarrassment of riches it was a pretty thin year this time out. Not a bad year, as such, but simply a rather ordinary one, with very little that excited or stirred the senses. There were, however, a couple of good ‘acting’ movies that stood out for me. The King’s Speech and The Yellow Room are both what I would call ‘good old-fashioned English’ movies, in that simple direction, superb acting, and high-quality scripts do more than a million Hollywood explosions to draw you in and keep you engaged until the very final moment.
Sadly, the Will Ferrell Memorial Tower of Crap Award this year has to go to the by-product of one of our favourite televisual moments: the telemovie Dead Like Me: Life After Deathpicks up on the series 5 years after its conclusion, and somehow manages to ignore and/or betray everything the original series had built up, portraying deep and human characters in buffoonish and dislikeable ways in a plot that goes out of its way to insult the intelligence of the viewer. Not just a disappointment, it left me feeling like the creators were actively expressing their hatred of their own audience. Dishonourable mentions for Grass, a movie so bad it became the first film in several years that I’ve failed to finish, and Rango, a big-budget animated so-what-who-cares-a-thon that had so little to recommend it that even our 6 year old was bored.
28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 41, and built Lego while eating in front of the TV. I am a grown up.
29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Membership in the Green Lantern Corps. And punching Ryan Reynolds in the face. The two may not necessarily be unconnected.
30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011? ‘Concept’ is a very strong word…
31. What kept you sane? You can’t fool me. There ain’t no Sanity Clause.
32. What political issue stirred you the most? FIFA, racism, and the widespread corruption and general shittification of the sport I love.
33. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011. We must cultivate our own garden.
34. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Delusions of grandeur, delusions of grandeur
I'm a dedicated follower of my own success
I can handle the glamour, I can cope with the stress
Deal with the doughnuts and please all the rest
I'm polite to the punters and sweet to the press
I just won a trophy from a radio station
I'm leaving my bat and my balls to the nation
I've got megalomania, I've got megalomania
To be a twinkle in the show-biz dream
To which effect I could connive and scheme
I dive into the dairy and I lap up all the cream
I'm up to the armpits in self-esteem
--Delusions of Grandeur, Ian Dury & The Blockheads