Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Time For The End To Begin - the 2008 review and 2009 preview

# “Let's keep it together… Can we keep it together? We're singing a new song now and everything starts today” # - Guster

It's time for that annual event I like to call my "stepping back to go forward" with a review of the past year and a preview of the upcoming one... (you can check out the previous two "year round-ups" from me by clicking here for 2006/2007 and clicking here for 2007/2008. This past year that was 2008, though, was a great year for me as an amateur writer, and in 2009 with the completion of my finished manuscript for my first kids novel in tantalising sight, "the end" is perhaps where the hard work is just beginning... The question remains, by this time next year, will I have been able to turn my (quite serious, don't you know!) hobby as a scribbler into the start of a new career as a professional author?

Well, I have to wait and see, just as much as anyone reading this, but in the meantime, I definitely think it's worth taking stock of where you stand at this time of the new year, so without further delay, here's my rundown of my creative activities throughout the last year as documented here on my writing blog...





So... in January last year I was pretty much where I am now, reviewing the previous 12 months and looking forward to what I wanted to achieve across the course of 2008... I also launched a newbie webpage of mine (which will eventually be tagged onto my Official Website!) called "CGAllan's Forgotten Fiction" - a page where I'm storing all the stories I forgot to remember', so to speak... Wondering what the heck I'm going on about? Click the link above for it to go and read all about it...

As February 2008 rolled around I still had some blog housekeeping to take care of from the previous year in posting the results of my 2nd Fiction Decisions Poll for my novel which shed new light on the locations of the book, hopefully giving a unique insight to readers about the world that my tale inhabits... Then it was also time to launch the 3rd and final Fiction Decisions Poll in connection with "Moon Crater" and I'm happy to report the results of this will be zipping your way, right here on the blog in a month's time...


Moving into March I began a theme that sort of continued all year long - recounting years gone by and reminiscing in particular about childhood memories of war games and the limitless imagination of youth. Two of my influences as a writer were explored in this post, namely Arthur C Clarke, who passed away in the early part of the year, and also George Orwell.

In April I decided to come clean and show myself as the "fool" when I admitted to setting up the infamous 'Time Warp Initiative' which had been plaguing my website. It was all meant as a game (honest!) and actually proved to be good practice for the Zip Code to come later in the year (see July's round-up below!)... Also this month, though, I outlined the new writing that was coming from me now that 2008 was in full swing, including my short story "The Silhouettes & Winds of the Valley" which had been accepted as one of 24 stories to be published (yep, in a proper, physical book!) called "Invisible Ink 2", an anthology of 'emerging talent in the literary landscape of the UK' as the organisers boasted. Added to the excitement of actually getting into the anthology was the fact that for the rest of the year readers of the book could vote on their favourite story, and whoever wins "Best Story" by the end of this very month (Jan '09) will be given the offer of a full-length book, produced with the same publishers. I've obviously not heard the final result yet, but will be sure to cover it in a post in only a few weeks time here, in February...

Back to May 2008, and I decided to do a feature post on my love of film and TV and how they both influence my creative writing a lot (to read more about how 'film' influences my novel in the making, you can go to my Official Website of "findthemissingreel.com" and click on the central introduction film spool on the homepage there... The other thing I blogged about this month though was how the second draft of the novel was coming along, focusing on the attention to detail I was now having to give my text, while at the same time giving some sneaky hints through words and pictures on that post about what the story would be about. To celebrate getting so far with the book too, I also decided to debut a new blog journal title picture too, which I designed and felt captured more the sense of adventure that my "Moon Crater" book encapsulates.

In June it was time to talk about my annual holiday which was no less adventurous as the stories I attempt to write, as my wife and I travelled to Holland by bike (from our very front door!) and camped in the North-West, visiting such places as the European Space Agency and MC Escher's hometown. On my return from the Netherlands, I also decided to blog about another passion of mine which is the Indiana Jones films, since the fourth in the series was due out at cinemas that very month. (I got so giddy as a school child over the whole Indy franchise in '08 that I spent some time setting up my very own fan page called "All Things Indy" which is still an active webpage and will be added to throughout 09...

July was the month that I decided to launch the official game to accompany my main writing website and novel which I had been dropping hints about ever since 2008 began and decided to call "the Zip Code Challenge" (to find the launch page on my Official Homepage select the object on the desk top there which looks useful for communicating long-distance with...) The Zip Code Challenge is an ongoing puzzle to solve, leading up to when I (hopefully!) get my novel published, so there's still going to be plenty of time to get cracking and decypher the Code over the coming year...

When August came around, I was a little melancholy over the fact that I'd lost some words and couldn't find them anyway. To this day, I still can't find my missing notebook, but I think I've remembered most of what I had scribbled in there... Added to this post though I gave an update on some of the stories I mentioned back in April and brought exciting news that a new writing publication wanted to feature a few of my stories when they publish their book of new writing in 2009 (stay tuned for more news on this as I get it this year!)

By September I was blogging about my day job in the TV post-production field as a Broadcast Subtitler, charting my work captioning TV programmes and talking about my favourite kind of shows to work on. Incidentally, only recently at the turn of the year, I read an interesting post on another online journal out there on the blogosphere about subtitles on film and text messages, which are all interlinked when you think about it... I also thankfully completed a Proofreading & Editing Skills course that I'd been doing as part of my day job in September, so also talked about this on my blog, cos it was pretty much tied into my creative writing too!

I got all active in October as along with my wife and some friends, I entered the Great North Run, which is a permanent fixture in the calendar of the North-East of England where we live, and proved to be a fantastic event to compete in, both for ourselves personally and also because we raised quite a lot for charity between us all. After blogging about the Run, I decided to do a feature post about the theme of "obsession" in narratives and how this notion permeates throughout my "Moon Crater" novel - in fact, looking back, I've realised now that I've dropped probably THE biggest clues about the book so far with that particular post (hint, watch the moving pictures closely!)

By November it was time to give a customary round-up of the news about my novel's spin-off series that I've been writing called "Moon Crater Adventures". Along with the artist Rich Windass I've been working on these for around two years now and it was time to release some of the eye-boggling art from Rich with that post to allow readers to see the kind of world(s) we're trying to create with the series... (There'll be more to come on the "Moon Crater Adventures" in 2009, but for now if you're wondering just where you can start YOUR Adventures, my reply would be this - they're an "out of this world" set of stories, so, which desk top object across on my Official Homepage looks suitably "spaced" out to you? When you find it, simply click that object to take yourself through to the "Moon Crater Adventures" Portal Page and then begin reading by clicking the "LAUNCH" link...)



I rounded off 2008 in December with a "10 years ago" flashback post, almost like interviewing my younger self because with the close of that year, I realised I had been in this creative writing biz, trying to build my portfolio and get the crazy ideas for stories I held in my brain out on paper, for exactly a decade. So to celebrate and commemorate this, I reprinted a short piece by myself which I had written way back in 1998 as a younger man... (Heck, my writing style's changed quite a bit! AND I'm glad to say, I've become less serious in my older age...)

But now back to the future, or the past, (at least the past year, anyway...), and after looking back over it, was there anything I didn't achieve that I'd hoped to back a year ago when 2008 first began? Well, I knew "08" was always meant to be a consolodation year for me and my writing of my main novel, so I wasn't expecting huge things to come out of it, and there definitely were some regrets about things I haven't quite got started or finished off yet... For instance, back at the beginning of last year, I had high hopes of starting to podcast and didn't actually get round to doing any of that. But I have read a lot about 'em so important research and groundwork has been laid for future endeavours across the sound waves on the Net... There's also a few new stories that I begun in 2008 but which still aren't finished yet, mainly cos of the concentration and focus needed on the novel... The most important thing still on my "To Do" list though is much-needed work across at my Official Website which still is not fully under my own control as I'd hoped for by the end of last year - but with a new PC now and plans afoot for an "09" total takeover of the design of the homepage by moi, the much-talked-about Contacts page (it better be good after this long, right?!), along with about half a dozen other new pages through the desk top objects on my main site should finally appear this coming year...

But I don't want to give the impression I've got more moans and groans from 2008 with my writing than smiles and grins - I DID really achieve a lot when I look back at it, the most significant of which from the months recounted above probably are: the second draft of "Moon Crater" is almost finished ("gonna make it, gonna make it...!"); the Zip Code which will ultimately reveal the final REAL title of my "Moon Crater" novel was launched (with at least 4 more challenges coming your way in 2009); the spin-off stories Moon Crater Adventures was advanced and properly plotted and planned out by both myself and Rich Windass (more out-of-this-world news on this as it happens this year!); the final ever "Moon Crater Fiction Decisions Poll" was completed and a record number of "pollers" helped out, (thanks to the nifty new sidebar Poll gadget from Blogger and Google); and I had a story appear in a real live PUBLISHED anthology (with its own ISBN, and everything!) which you could actually buy on Amazon! (more on the final official results of "best story" from the anthology next month but for now I'm also thrilled to have read that the book is also available through Waterstones and Blackwell's here in the UK! (You can find out more on this by clicking here now!)

And as for 2009 and the coming 12 months? Well, I've got minor aims like, having only my own photos/created pics appear on the blog (which I began in 2008, especially in the sidebar here) and also wanting to join a regular local writing group to keep my writing fresh (I suppose I could always just form one myself along with like-minded creatives...), but essentially, this coming year, as I've said in my post last month, it's all "Moon Crater, Moon Crater, Moon Crater!" all of the way, and if the past 12 months have been a time to set up the final playing board for my novel, the next 12 should see the pieces moving, and with a real sense of purpose... (Look out for my "The Road To Publishville" series of posts on this very blog journal throughout 2009 which will go through my own personal journey of seeking out an agent/publisher and also document how I go about writing my final synopsis and cover letter to accompany the book's manuscript - hopefully it'll prove useful to other wannabe authors out there too!) So there's loads to build on from 2008 and I'm definitely looking forward to 2009 and the potential of what dreams may come by this new year's end...

Finally, I'm definitely a creature of habit and routine and another tradition on this blog in January of each year so far has become the launch of something "distinctly new" from me in the coming 12 months... Well, this new month of the new year is no different to those that have come before, and I'm proud to announce that "CGAllan's Story Starts" has now begun! (in same vein as the end begins from my first para, so too here the 'starts' start...)




Since this is my "final push" year for the novel, I'll end this first post of 2009 with a tongue-in-cheek but still inspiritational look at the life of a book from first letter on paper to book shop shelf...


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