Good Riddance 2016

It was the year when cheetahs passed critical levels and started heading towards extinction, but were ignored by most because a single gorilla was put down. The year when celebrity deaths seemed to double down on themselves, taking someone who was inspiring or beloved (for me, Vera Reuben and Alan Rickman are ones that stood out, but never posted about, but there have been so many more this year that it’s felt like a celebrity apocalypse) from almost all of us. Towards the end of the year we lost George Michael, starting a load of Last Christmas lyric jokes, although many thought we’d lost him already. You see, a hoax ran over the holidays that he’d died and they were just done denying it when he actually did die. And you just know someone is boasting about their part in that as you read this, because that’s the sort of person who fakes deaths for fun.

Beyond celebrity deaths, this was the year of Zika, increased terrorist activity, tainted water, and Olympic athletes faking being mugged because…? Hmmm, did we ever get a reason for that one? Whether we did or didn’t, we barely noticed that because most of us were dead. This was the year everyone on Facebook (which I used to think was everyone but me until someone found me on there despite me deleting my profile years ago) was told they were dead by the system. Those that didn’t notice that wished they were dead later on in the year when fake news managed to screw most of the world harder than it even knew was possible, making Britain vote to leave the European Union with nary a plan of what to do now, and bringing the secret lovechild of a genetically-enhanced satsuma and a gorilla into the Oval Office.

Seriously, when someone boasts about being famous enough to sexually assault women “and they just let you”, you don’t vote that person into office. Lifehack: Never side with the rapists. Compare the Donald (a man with the ego and intellect of Kanye West, but slightly less stable) to Barack Obama, a man who had the most discussed scientific article of the year when he published to the Journal of the American Medical Association. Granted, his status as President of the United States will have bumped the amount of scrutiny the article was under, and (titled United States and Health Care Reform: Progress to Date and Next Steps) it was on Obamacare, but the fact is he was the first sitting President to submit and publish a heavily fact-checked article in a scientific journal. And then we have the incoming President who won’t read daily intelligence reports because he’s “smart” but barely manages to tweet his every thought without spelling mistakes all over the joint.

trumptweets

Surely it’s “unpresidented” for the rapist in chief to claim that high spending at Christmas and a resultant market surge is his doing, even if he is openly supporting the leader of an enemy state who helped him into office.

On a personal level it’s been a pretty crap year for almost everyone I know too. Jobs have been lost. People have gone without money for ridiculous amounts of time. Friends have been caught in living situations that are simply untenable. Hell, we had a taxi driver a few weeks ago whose wife had died, leaving him with an eight month old son, and who was being denied any form of help from the government when her illness drained their finances to the point that he was getting thrown out of his home. And it seems this awful time has spread around the world, just as I was getting paranoid the common denominator was me. Everyone is having a real shitty time all round, so it’s no surprise that the youths of the world tried to find something, anything, to make them feel they’d accomplished something in the fiery pits of this hellos year. Things like the incredibly difficult standing still, the running away we saw in an earlier video, and the slightly more impressive water bottle flips.

And to cap it off, and vindicate those of us who’re saying “This year just won’t end!”, this year just won’t end. Well, it will, but it has the audacity to last a whole second longer than normal. Thanks to the rotation of the planet not being perfect, occasionally an extra second has to be added to universal time in order to make sure we don’t slip ahead and have day as night tax-dodging sexual assaulters with their finger on the button. So, at the end of this year, the time won’t go from 23:59:59 to 00:00:00. This year we get to see the rare 23:59:60 rear its ugly head. An extra second. Do you know how many insults to nuclear-enpowered world leaders Trump can tweet in that time? Or how many phones can explode?

So I hope you’ll join me not in looking forward with hope to the new year and all the opportunities it brings, but in looking back with spite at the old year and hoping it burns in the special hell reserved for child molesters, country music stars, and anyone who thinks bragging about “grabbing them by the pussy” is “just guy talk”.

Rewriting Rewriting Rewriting

This year I had a good, hard (behave yourselves) look at my writing after letting it stew for enough time that it was almost like reading someone else’s book. And then I started to completely rewrite my first book from the ground up in a completely different style. There were personal things along the way that slowed and, at one point, completely halted the project, but I persevered. And now that rewrite is complete. 

Well, I say complete. There will be no new plot points added. There will be no more structural changes. Hell, even the chapter names are pretty much set in stone now. But there will still be edits. Kim is Beta reading the book for me and pointing out problems (dialogue choices that don’t make sense outside of my internal narrative, the odd paragraph that I’ve rewritten several times and left multiple versions in, one quite terrifying contradiction that implies the insects of my world are the size of large dogs) and I’m fixing those problems. Sometimes that’s as simple as changing a word. Sometimes it means rewriting several paragraphs. And sometimes it means taking a favourite line and trashing it entirely. It’s hard, but necessary if I want this to be the book I know I can write. 

After that I’m going to be running my narration (not the dialogue though) through some web tools such as Grammarly and Hemingway that help by pointing out useless words, incorrect tenses, and other mistakes in writing. Of course, to keep this with the flavour I’m trying to give it, I won’t be listening to all their advice. Sometimes the flaws are what gives something character, after all. But it will help me to figure out some of my own weaknesses as a writer, and let me fix this up so it’s a little more professional.

So, with loads of editing before me, I’m kinda done and have moved onto my next project in this phase (I view each main trilogy book and the stories surrounding them as a phase). I always said that I wanted to surround my main trilogy with shorter stories that inform some of the characters who have bit parts in the main books. And I wrote five short stories to go along with the book that I’ve just rewritten. Two of those were beautifully intertwined with events that take place in both, so I’ve picked them out and I’m now rewriting them as a single companion novel. It’ll be a lot shorter than the main book, which in its current edit comes in at five hundred and six pages (with as much cut and deleted as it currently on the page), and I’m aiming for it to have several functions. The first is as an introduction to my world, as I may give this away for free to promote the main book when I start selling. The second function is to serve as a bridge between the main books, as both this companion novel and the main book of phase two will be set in a city that I only mention in passing during the first main book. And, finally, two interesting characters get to have their stories told without it getting in the way of the main story.

Eagle-eyed readers, and those with basic math skills, may have noticed that there are three short stories left from the five I wrote and may be wondering what will happen to them. Well, I’ve slated one for a rewrite as my world has evolved so much since I wrote it that it may as well be in another world. Once that’s complete I’m not sure what I’ll do with it. I may serialise it online or perhaps give it as a value added extra to readers. It all depends on how the market works when I get around to publishing. A second tale is pretty good to go right now, but I’ve some ideas that can help make it better. That one will be released as the start of phase two, with the details again depending on how the market is working by then.

The third one just doesn’t work at all. At the time I wasn’t the writer I needed to be in order to pull something like that off. Now, I’m writer enough to scrap the entire story and take some of the ideas and presentation into the companion novel I’m writing. Though that story has been shelved for now, I will return to it at some time, but probably not until phase three where it would fit better.

For now, I’m concentrating on finishing phase one off. So I’ll keep rewriting this companion novel, then finish the edits on the main book, and then rewrite the short story before moving onto phase two. What’s phase two? Well, like this, it starts with completely rewriting several hundred pages of book so that it’s a better read. The difference this time is that I know now that it will be a better read once that’s done.