|Hayden Trenholm Writer
I know I’m three weeks late but in my defence let me remind you that it is Chinese New Year – time for Rabbits to become Dragons. Not a bad metaphor for the year just past.
Last year, I experienced both highs and lows but generally I feel I’m at a better place today than I was a year ago – not a bad result given the laws of thermodynamics and the inevitable effects of entropy.
Let’s start with some statistics: I started 35 books and finished 34 of them. The best was Room by
Emma Donahue, followed by Robert J. Sawyer’s Wonder (made sweeter by being dedicated to my wife and me). I read six books and countless articles on Paris between the wars – research for my new novel – ranging from good to excellent. I learned a great deal but I’m not finished yet. I also
watched 45 movies though I turned six of them off before the end. An even dozen were seen in movie theatres – the most in quite a few years. The best of the bunch: Hugo and The King’s Speech, though Midnight in Paris was a close third – Woody’s best in a decade. My best video
experience was Paris, je t’aime, a quirky little film anthology. I also watched a lot of TV on DVD – notably The Big Bang Theory, Stargate Universe and British shows, Sherlock and Being Human.
I saw several great concerts – mostly at the Ottawa Jazz Festival, including Paco De Lucia, Elvis Costello and Robert Plant. Joshua Redmond was also excellent. On the down side, I didn’t go to live theatre even once – perhaps for the first time in almost thirty years. I went to three SF
My writing career took several odd turns as well. I didn’t publish a novel or even a single short story – my first dry year since 2003. Still, my novel, Stealing Home, was nominated for both the Sunburst and the Aurora Award and my short story, The Burden of Fire, published in Neo-Opsis Magazine in 2010 won the Aurora for best short fiction. These were my 8th nominations and second win. Despite the lack of publications, I was plenty busy as a writer. I conceived and researched a new series of mysteries set in Paris between the wars and wrote the first/second drafts of the first book. It is out to first readers and I will write a fresh draft this spring. My research included a six-day solo trip to Paris in October and I have another eight day visit planned in June. This time Liz gets to come. It looks like my Ottawa French lessons are finally paying off. At the end of the year, I took on a fresh challenge when Bundoran Press hired me to edit their new anthology, Blood and Water, due out in August, 2012. And I managed to write four short stories as well, all currently in the mail or in revision.
My writing group, the East Block Irregulars, had some changes and some big successes this year.
Founding member, Derek Künsken, sold his third story to Asimov’s become SFWA eligible, while Matt Moore and Marie Bilodeau were both Aurora nominees. Another long time member, Peter Atwood, left Ottawa for a year in China but remains a full-fledged if inactive member. We welcomed
Geoff Gander and Agnes Cadieux to our ranks. We strongly encourage each other to keep writing and submitting and actively critique each other’s work. And we have loads of fun, too.
On a personal note, Liz and I moved from The Place That Shall Not Be Named to a lovely downtown condo. We are poorer but much happier. We became grandparents for the second time and Liz started a new job (and developed asthma). And we both were successful at our diet – though our plan to lose years rather than pounds seems to have fallen by the way-side.
Of course the year was not all about me. We had the astounding rise and untimely death of Jack Layton, the long-sought majority of Steven Harper (rabbits to dragons indeed), financial crisis part 2, the Arab spring, Canadian climate cowardice, pipeline battles and Republican turmoil – notably the rise and fall and rise of Newt Gingrich. And of course the usual round of marriages, deaths, shootings, election triumphs and losses, books
and movies rise and fall (a few perhaps destined to be classics but not nearly
so many as the media hipsters think).
Gosh, can 2012 possibly match that?
Forgive me followers for I have not opined; it’s been over a year since my last blog session. Thank you, thanks very much – I’m in town until next Tuesday. Try the jumbo shrimp.
The hardest thing about (re-)starting a blog is coming up with a timely topic. There have been no shortage of political developments since November 2010 and I’ve even had a few new writing adventures. E-books appear to have turned the corner and become the last big thing. Heck, I even have a second grandson to brag about, not to mention countless exciting trips here, there and
I guess I’ll have to make this a regular thing – along with Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook. As Leslie Winkle might say – ‘call me.’
Maybe the best place to start is to say why I stopped and why I’m back. Unlike smoking or collecting Christmas music, quitting a blog is remarkably easy. It requires a conscious decision to blog, you have to go someplace special to do it, and there is some effort involved – blood, sweat and tears even if only occasionally in the literal sense. Yes, blogging is like going to the gym – you know you should and you feel good after but it doesn’t take much to keep you away.
So it wasn’t you dear followers – if any of you are still there – it was me. When I started to blog, I could find nothing to say. And when I was full of outrage, insight and wit, I was often away from a keyboard (or too full of wine to properly use one).
So what has changed?
New year – new attitude. Don’t get me wrong, this is not the result of a resolution. As a friend of mine used to say: Goals are for hockey players.
However, 2011 had its share of trials and tribulations. It also had a number of real breakthroughs, professionally on several fronts and personally as well. I’ve decided that 2012 is a good time to translate all my dreams into reality. With the Mayan apocalypse pending (which I refuse to dignify with a hyperlink), I’m running out of time.
My own personal apocalypse may be a little farther off but, believe it or not, I expect to retire in six or seven years. Though I won’t be plunging into the abyss any time soon, I should soon be able to see it on the horizon. Neat – no more dentists; no more back pain. Given my somewhat dissolute life –graduate school, 12 years in the arts during my (supposedly) most financially productive years and a general failure to settle down – retirement will be more pewter-coloured than golden. Que sera, sera.
So, my goals this year are simple. Increase my income now so I can ensure my security (yes, I still do believe in that word despite how twisted it has become since the ‘spooks’ got a hold of it) for the future. And find a way to transition successfully from part-time writer and full-time policy wonk to full-time author and part-time grumpy old man.
My revenue plans are my own affair but as to the rest:
I’ve got a new mystery novel I’m in the process of having critiqued so I can begin marketing this spring. And I’ve started work on the sequel. Set in Paris. Which justifies going there. Again.
I’ve an old SF novel I am furiously re-writing to have ready at the same time.
I’m editing a collection of short stories for Bundoran Press– both for the fun of it and to put another arrow in my quiver.
I’m beginning the process of finding an agent – not easy but I’m getting good advice.
And I’m going to 5 conventions this year to help me market myself and my projects.
And I’m Facebooking, Linking, Tweeting, and yes, blogging! Watch for me here or over at http://eastblockirregulars.wordpress.com/with other members of my writing group. I may not manage once a week – but I’m aiming for more than once a month.
Hayden Trenholm is a playwright and novelist who lives in Ottawa, ON