Ends and beginnings, 2016 edition

Author with awardIn the spirit of recounting the good things that happened to me in this global annus horribilis, here’s my year in review. In (mostly) chronological order…

My writing year kicked off in earnest (I’m sure I wrote stuff before then, but I can’t be sure) in March, when I attended Contact. Held in Brisbane over the Easter long weekend, this was the 55th Australian National Science Fiction Convention and I enjoyed it heartily.

It featured the first Aurealis Awards that I was involved with (as judge for SF short story category) and much live-tweeting by me. I also won a Ditmar Award for Best New Talent, which was surprising and inspiring to my work since. (Except for the part where I dropped my pin on the floor of the stage, but I am at peace with my clumsiness.) To the Australian speculative fiction community, thank you for welcoming me and honouring me.

In May, my third short story was published in Defying Doomsday (Twelfth Planet Press). My story, “Two Somebodies Go Hunting” is one I’m very proud of, and yet I remain humbled to have been included in what I believe is a very important anthology. Although I missed the main launch at Continuum, the satellite launch in Canberra in August was well attended and appreciated.

Just a few years ago, I couldn’t imagine myself ever being able to justify going to an overseas convention. But when the combination of discounted airfares and family obligations made WisCon in May possible, I didn’t need to be told twice. At five times the size of your average Australian spec fic con, I was intimidated at times but generally too busy having my mind expanded, proportionally, to be overly concerned. From standing ovations at the opening ceremony to a guest of honour speech that brought tears to my eyes, this was a real highlight of my year, and an experience I hope to repeat.

A woman with white skin, glasses and brown hair hold a paperbook book, the Year's Best Speculative Fiction 2015In August, I participated in the Australian SF Snapshot Project as an interviewer and inteviewee. I had a great time doing my bit recording history, and was particularly chuffed to be interviewed by Tansy Rayner Roberts, who is one of the more delightful humans I know.

In September, my very first short published story (a queer retelling of Sleeping Beauty, in case you’re wondering) was published in the Year’s Best Young Adult Speculative Fiction 2015 (TPP). As one might imagine, I was thrilled to be included (I got paid without having to do more work? And my story is right before Sean Williams’s???).

Soon after, I attended Conflux, where I was able to catch up with many friends and start a new story at a workshop with Kaaron Warren.

In November, I undertook the very excellent Writing the Other 4-week course with Nisi Shawl and K. Tempest Bradford. I can’t recommend this course enough; as well as delivering everything in promised in terms of new perspectives on writing about marginalised people, it gave me tools that will improve my writing overall, particularly with respect to character development and worldbuilding.

I don’t talk much about my editing work, partly because of embargoes but mostly because it’s boring to most people, but I was too pleased to have launched Good Medical Practice in December not to mention it. Editing this medical ethics text was a huge project that took well over a year, so it was great to hold the book in my hand at long last. It’s a brief respite, as such books become obsolete before they even reach the printer, but I look forward to ongoing work with excellent clients.

Another year-long project was reading for this year’s Aurealis Awards. This time, I was promoted to convenor of science fiction shorts. With a few months to go before shortlists are released, I can’t say anything about the entries, except that we received 188 entries this year (up from around 130 last year).

I’m not the most prolific writer by a long shot; I end the year with one new publication, one reprint, two short stories finished and out on submission, and three incomplete shorts. I’m this close to finishing my longer work (will it be a novel or a novella? Find out in 2017… hopefully.) It might not look like much, but this is probably the most I’ve ever written, and for that I must thank my people: my Writing Day crew, thanks for being in it for the long slogs (and for motivating me to clean my flat); to my top-notch crit group for advice that has, I think, already clinched me a publication; to Write Club, for support, tea, and the constant reminder to always be kind to myself; and last but not least, my wonderful mentor Cat Sparks, who finds time to be incisive and brilliant to me even when she’s frantically busy. (She has a novel out next year and you should read it.)

So that’s 2016 for me; but with hours to go before 2017 hits, this is just a brief pause on work towards my next project. It’ll be announced very soon, so if you’ve got this far… watch this space.

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