Dark nights and black swans

The reputation management team at a major public relations team is speaking to 2016:

Public relations minion: “You want honesty? That’s un… Look, you need to turn things around. Immediately. It’s December 28 so you have under four days to generate positive social media so people remember you… somewhat more fondly. Because, let’s be frank, things are dire. You need to donate $omething. $ave a species. Re$cue a kid from a burning building. Anything that can boo$t your brand. Otherwi$e you’re not going to like how the historians document your time in charge.”

2016: “Seriously? Look at all the other years – any year you like. We’re all the same. Some grim stuff, some shocks, the odd giggle and plenty of cats doing cute shit in front of cameras. I’m no different.”

Minion: “Err, people have short memories. This is why it’s particularly important you make the most of the few days you have left. I mean, your reputation index is … deplorable. When people talk about you it’s all terrorism, racism, Rickman, refugees, Trump, Brexit, Bowie, the Barrier Reef, Prince, Omran Dagneesh, Trump, Cohen, Syria, Trump… If you’re going to claw back ratings, it has to be now. For goodness sake, you even took Muhammad Ali, Princess Leia and Carol Brady.”

2016: “Oh breathe. You angst-ridden Gen Xers with your conflicted consciences, you shit me to tears. You’re just having a panic attack because you finally realised you’re mortal and you’re not in charge. The old, the angry and the afraid have the numbers and they are changing things, whether you like it or not. Everyone has to die some time, even celebrities. The Barrier Reef has been under the weather for years and, hell, you find me any 12-month period without war. You mark my words, I’m no worse than my predecessors. I might even be better. Search ‘underdogs 2016’ and see what you find. Then go ask a Footscray fan what kind of year I am…”  

Hello readers. Thanks for allowing me that little indulgence. I started this post wanting to talk about where I’m at with my writing, found it uncomfortable, and then switched to an easier task — compiling my list of memorable things I’ve been viewing, reading and listening to in 2016. That job done, I sat back and looked at the titles and was surprised by the themes. Wow. So much death and darkness. That made me rethink the year that’s almost gone and that led to, well, thank you for persisting.

The seven year itch

As far as my writing is going, it isn’t, really. I’m working full-time on an interesting and challenging project. There has’t been much creative energy left for anything else.

I don’t want this to be a whinge but my failure to balance this part of my life is eating away at me. Five Parts Dead was released in late 2010, about 6.5 years ago. In YA fiction land that’s a lifetime; my original teen readers are mostly adults now.

I do have a draft manuscript but it needs time and toil before I can show it to you. I don’t know when this will be possible.

On the upside, I’ve watched one good friend swim through years of troubled waters to launch an excellent novel. And I’ve been honoured to read a couple of drafts of what is going to be a superb novel, launching early in 2017. So good things are still happening in writing land. I might be AWOL but I’ll find my way back.

A bumpy ride

Any long-term readers of this blog will know I cycle to keep myself fit and sane. This year I had a couple of big crashes in quick succession, thankfully doing no significant damage other than a couple of cracked ribs. I was back riding soon afterwards (somewhat gingerly) and, on one of my night rides, almost got knocked off by an angry black swan.

A big black swan on a black night. A narrow miss. I’m going to take that as an omen. Sometimes dark times are around the corner but that doesn’t mean we should live in fear. We can swerve, adjust our course, refocus and keep moving forward.

Here’s what I’ve been reading/watching/listening to in 2016:

Listening: Songs from the Road; You Want it Darker (Leonard Cohen), Ascenseur pour l’echafaud (Miles Davis), Florasongs; The King is Dead (The Decemberists), Reclaim Australia (AB Original), Oh Canada (Missy Higgins)

Reading: The Bone Sparrow (Zana Fraillon), Words in Deep Blue (Cath Crowley), Nona & Me (Clare Atkins), The Sad Book (Michael Rosen), The Walking Dead (Robert Kirkman), The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons (Matthew Meyer)

Rereading: Tales of the Otori (Lian Hearn), Y: The Last Man (Brian K Vaughan), Civil War (Mark Millar et. al.)

Watching: Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Deadpool, The Walking Dead, Vikings, My Scientology Movie, Game of Thrones

I’ve got to say I loved watching the Western Bulldogs (my ‘second team’) win the AFL Grand Final but my favourite sporting moment came from an athlete who finished last in his event at the Olympic Games. He had something to say and he did it in a joyous way. I hope joy regularly pierces the clouds in your lives in 2017.

Winning, even when you place last

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