Only a couple of replies so far to my request for notification that you do actually read this blog, so thanks to Joe and Rory. I'll give it a couple of weeks and see if anyone else bothers responding.
I'm feeling remarkably chilled since I found out money was on its way to me. I blew the first chunk of the advance buying the house I now live in, and I've been gripping onto part-time work in the belief that if you're serious about writing, you should at least try and live on part-time work so you can spend more time writing. I'm still here, so I suppose it's worked, but it does feel a bit of a struggle at times. I now feel much more financially secure. I'll also be getting another chunk of the advance when the first book finally comes out in September.
I missed the transit of Venus, so I didn't get to see the second planet out from the sun passing in front of same, though I did see a clip of it on morning television. The Glasgow Science Centre is on my route to work, via a footbridge over the Clyde. They'd set up a powerful telescope just outside the front entrance so anyone who wanted to could step up and get a good view of it (the telescope, of course, shielded so whoever looked wouldn't have their retinas fried). Unfortunately, this being Scotland, it was grey, overcast, and a bit wet. Unlike the rest of the country. So nobody saw anything, unfortunately, including me.
I read in the papers that the BBC now have the go-ahead to build a state-of-the-art Scottish hq a few blocks from me. This pleases me mightily, since I'm hoping it'll keep property prices healthy, and might make the area move up in the world a little bit. I know SMG, a local media group, are considering a similar move. The whole project constitutes a stupendous financial and architectural rejuvenation of the old dock area of Glasgow, in effect custom-building a new financial district and centre of commerce. There's a lot happening here, although I suspect it'll be close to the end of the decade before it's all finally finished.
I tripped over this highly entertaining piece on slush piles, and why authors get rejected >>link<<. I've got a considerable pile of them from short fiction magazines. I don't know how many publishers knocked my first book back: my agent knows the answer to that one. A good few, I'd say. But then, nobody actually bought the first book I'd ever written; they bought the one I wrote after that.
I suppose at this point it's worth saying something about that first book, Touched by an Angel. There's bits of it in Angel Stations - bits of the background really - but apart from that, they bear no resemblance to each other whatsoever. WOuld I like to see that first book eventually published? I'm not absolutely sure that I would, to be honest. It was a first book, the kind of thing you write - in retrospect - as practice, to learn how to write a book. I haven't re-read it in a very long time, and maybe I'll change my mind when I get around to reading it again.
I remember workshopping the first 20k of it with GSFWC, writing the rest of it, and in the next draft completely excising the section I'd workshopped and replacing it completely. ALmost a quarter of the manuscript, but it had to be done. I still have that 20k and I read a bit of it recently. Pretty rough. What I replaced it with was far better. The moral of which, I suppose, is that I learned early to be hard-headed about my own writing.
Another thing I've found is that the more you write, the more your ideas about what you want to write change. I'm happy enough to write solid sf for Tor, but as you do, I feel an occasional hankering for other things. Not even necessarily things vastly different from what I'm already writing; just ... different.