It’s hard to believe that 2014 is about to end. The year has gone by incredibly quickly, at least to me, and now it’s time to get ready for whatever 2015 holds. The end of a year has a way of making people reflective, so in that spirit, here’s a little of what I’ve learned from the year that was.
In My Reading…
I’ve learned more than I ever knew before about Asian crime fiction. Of course, that’s a huge general category within the genre. I have a lot more to explore, and there’s a great deal that I still don’t know. But it’s been fascinating to me to take a look at the way Japanese, Chinese and Indian writers think about crime fiction. I want to continue that in the coming year.
Although I didn’t plan it, I’ve also learned a lot more about Australian crime fiction. There’s so much diversity in the country and in its fiction that one lifetime isn’t enough to read it all. So that too is a work in progress for me. But I read the work of more Aussie authors than I had in the past, and I’m pleased at that. This year I hope I’ll get a chance to read even more.
I’m a bit disappointed that I didn’t read as much South American crime fiction as I wanted. I’ve no excuse, really, other than the usual ‘too little time; too many books.’ I hope to remedy that in the new year. I also hope to do a little more about trying different kinds of books – out of my ‘comfort zone.’ I think it’s too easy to get into a pattern of reading, and that means it’s really easy to let lots of wonderful crime fiction just slip by.
In My Writing
This year I learned a lot about being a fiction editor. I admit, I’m cheating a bit here, because my editing project In a Word: Murder really came to fruition at the end of 2013. But this year has taught me a great deal (including how very much I still need to learn!) about what it’s like to collaborate with a group of outstanding authors, put a collection of stories together and get it published. I hope I’ll be better prepared for the next time I undertake a project like that. In the meantime, I remain extremely grateful to the talented contributors who let me include their stories.
As to my own fiction writing? I continue to learn the lessons of patience and perseverance. Writing isn’t something you do once and then it’s done. It’s something that has to be worked at, improved and polished. And that takes perseverance. So does coping with the reality of trying to promote my work without being obnoxious; waiting to hear from publishers and agents; rejection and so on. Anyone who tells you that it’s easy to be a writer has never done it. One thing that’s helped me is having other projects besides my Joel Williams series. The best way to meet with writing success is, well, to put your head down and keep writing. I’ve got a few things going on right now, and a few ideas for others. I don’t know what will come of any of it, but in the meantime, I’m doing what I can to hone my skills.
On My Blog
I always try to do the best I can on this blog. Sometimes, things don’t work so well (you have no idea how many edits I’ve had to make before you even see my posts, let alone once they’re ‘live’). Still, though I say it myself, I think some new things I’ve done on the blog this year have worked well. One is my Crime Fiction News Break feature. When I first tried it, it was going to be a one-off. But to my happy surprise, you folks were kind enough to support it. So I kept on with it and by doing that, I’ve learned an awful lot about putting together a news video. That’s one feature I intend to keep doing this year. Of course, there’ll be refinements as I learn more, but I think I’m getting the very basics of it. You don’t want to see my outtakes…
Another feature you’ve been kind enough to support is the smaller short stories I’ve been including from time to time. It means a lot to me that you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read, but it goes beyond that. As I write those stories, I hone my skills. It’s good discipline.
So what’s going to happen on the blog this year? Well, who knows what may happen as the year goes by? But for now, you can expect my Spotlight feature, my usual posts about themes, patterns and so on in the genre, Crime Fiction News Break, and the occasional story. Oh, and quizzes…
In My Life
This has been a difficult year in some ways for me. But I’ve had some wonderful moments too. I was truly privileged to meet in person several bloggers who’ve become online friends. How many people are fortunate enough to be shown round Madrid, treated to a day on Dartmoor and given a lovely telephone chin session? You’ve all been awfully kind. And that’s to say nothing of you folks who’ve been brave enough to come to my patch and meet me in this area 😉 . It is an honour to know all of you, and I hope that this year, I’ll meet even more of you in person. You sustain me more than you know.
I’ve done other ‘road trips’ too this year, and I’ve learned a lot from them. I think travel can be very inspiring. Besides, it serves as a good reminder that there’s a very big world out there. I’m not sure now exactly where I’ll be going this coming year, but I’m hoping to do a bit of travel. And don’t worry; if I do, I’ll bring you all along, virtually at least.
So there you have it: a quick glimpse at what’s been happening with my reading, my writing and my blogging this year. I’ll say an official ‘Happy New Year’ to all of you tomorrow, so look for that. But in the meantime, it’s time to pack away 2014.
*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Billy Joel’s This is the Time.