I've been a touch quiet around here, but that relative silence on the blog has translated into being just shy of the one hundred thousand mark on the third Dakota book in barely two months. This makes me happy. There's a long, long way to go, especially when it comes to revising the manuscript. I might be writing fast, but I can guarantee I'll be sweating words every day right up to the deadline in July.
I've noticed people have been doing stuff like best-of-year lists, so rather than be original and do something different I'm going to jump on the bandwagon.
Books that stood out for me this year include Cory Doctorow's brilliant Little Brother, Lewis Shiner's semi-historical novel about race in America, Black & White, and Dan Simmons' utterly superb sf/horror/historical, The Terror.
Best movie I saw was Iron Man, closely followed by In Bruges, a tale of two hitmen stuck in Belgium on a long weekend. The worst film I saw this year - and in fact, several years - was the latest Indiana Jones movie. They may be making more of them, but I won't be seeing them.
I enjoyed Batman Returns, but I spent a good third of it squinting at the screen and asking my other half, "what're they saying?" Although there were many tremendous and gripping scenes and Ledger's Joker was game-changing, some parts of the film were muddled and the sound a muddy mixture of too-loud special effects and mumbling actors.
Best gadget by far for me this year was the Sony Reader. If you don't believe me, I just can't explain it. Let's just say it makes the reading experience so desperately addictive you start jonesing when the damn thing isn't around to play with.
Music ... god knows. It gets faintly annoying when other blogs start posting about obscure indie bands out of some Brazilian favela, but the fact is I just don't buy or listen to anything anymore. The reason is very simple: I don't have the time. If I'm listening to music, I'm not doing anything else. I don't like music as background noise, because that's just so wrong. It's music. You listen to it, and you give it due attention.
And I would, if I had the time, and I don't. The only intrusion music makes on me at all these days is the stuff at somafm.com, whose 'drone zone' - mainly ambient, slightly beepy stuff heavy on the atmospheric effects - I sometimes have on in the background when I'm writing since it's more of an aural mood setting than actual music. If it starts sounding too much like actual music, it distracts me and I can't write.
Which is weird, because I bought myself a new acoustic a few months back, a small, cheap travel guitar. I used to play a hell of a lot of guitar, electric and acoustic, and there's a long, long story in that. But it's nice to keep my hand in with my Simon & Kilpatrick guitar stuck back in Scotland.
The major personal event for me this year was moving to Taiwan with my girlfriend and getting married. Some friends asked why I hadn't mentioned this fact already on the blog - we got hitched at the start of the month - and the reason is I don't see this blog so much as being about my personal life nearly so much as it's about my writing career. Blogs, after all, aren't the same as diaries. But that - along with living in Taiwan, at least for a while - was the most significant thing in my life this year.
In terms of writing, it's been my most successful year so far - onwards and upwards, as they say - with Stealing Light selling better than anything else I've had published, as well as being my first hardback publication. So all in all, a good year.