Out with the old…

So there goes 2011. Another year behind us, with all the experiences it brought. Honestly, I’m not sure where it all went.

But a lot has happened in the life of me, the vast majority of which has gone recorded in this blog. Looking back, I’m not sure where to start…

  • I finished university. Yep, after three long years of study, I finished my exams and in July graduated with an LLB from the University of Sussex. I’m as surprised as anyone, to be honest. But I even managed to cross the hall and receive my degree without tripping over. I have video evidence!
  • Having, at the beginning of the year only dreamed of it, I ended up standing for election this summer. Following the conservative incumbent’s resignation a mere five days after the local elections in May, I stood as Labour candidate for the ward of Remenham, Wargrave and Ruscombe. And despite the staunch blue shade of the local politics, I managed to poll well and come a not-too-distant third.
  • I’ve been writing, as always. I’ve only had the one story acceptance this year, sadly, but I put that mostly down to the need to focus on university for the first half of the year. One 2011’s highlights was definitely taking part in the excellent Halloween Shorts project, alongside my fellow writers Jennifer Williams, Kev Clarke and Andrew Reid.
  • For the last few months I’ve been volunteering, part-time, for the political blog Political Scrapbook. I’ve learnt a lot from it, and had the pleasure of working with a whole host of great people. Hopefully, the new year will herald the arrival of a “proper job” of some form.
  • I’ve also been volunteering with the local Scout group. Honestly, this was always likely to happen. I was a Scout as a child, my mother is a Cub leader, and the path towards the leader’s uniform has already been tread by my brother. But it’s a great experience, and hopefully I can make the difference in the lives of the lads I’m working with that my leaders made to me.
  • I have, after much procrastination, joined the British Fantasy Society. This was only a week ago, so not much has yet come of it, but I’m excited and inspired. And, of course, looking forward to my first FantasyCon, in September next year!
  • And finally, yesterday marked the end of a third year spent with my wonderful Ashleigh! We celebrated by spending the day in London, at the Saatchi Gallery and Forbidden Planet (of course!), followed by a beautiful meal at Manna vegetarian restaurant. I know it’s a cliché, but I couldn’t be happier.

So that’s the highlights of my personal year. I could have done a political rundown, or a writing run down, but there are other people doing that. For today, I want this to be a record of my year, of what I’ve managed, what I’ve tried, and where I stand on the cusp on 2012. I’ll start looking forwards tomorrow.

On (Finally) Joining the BFS

So now I'm a member of the British Fantasy Society

So, at last I’ve done it. Last night, Ashleigh and I joined the British Fantasy Society.

It had been something we’d both been meaning to do, and discussing, for a while but hadn’t seemed to get around to. Ironically, I think it was probably the controversy surrounding this year’s British Fantasy Awards which finally spurred us to take the plunge.

It’s possible that joining this close to Christmas was a bit silly, as I doubt there’ll be much activity in way of our new membership until the New Year, but even joining up feels inspirational. The BFS’ “Join us” page, bears this message from Stephen Jones, which I shall relate to you here:

“Whenever a fledgling horror or fantasy writer comes up to me, at a convention or somewhere else, and asks me how they can get their work published, I invariably advise them that their first step should be to join the British Fantasy Society.”

After what has felt like a fairly lacklustre year in my writing career, I’m keen to improve in 2012, and this feels like a good step towards it. I’m looking forward to attending some of the get-togethers, including FantasyCon 2012 (which will give me a good excuse to go back to Brighton). And at £35 for a year’s membership, it feels like a bargain to me.

So here’s to the next year, for myself and Ash as members of the British Fantasy Society! Let the fun start here!