Well another year is almost over and I’m left wondering where some of it has gone. As I get older I’m convinced someone is stealing the odd day from me here and there and over a year those days add up to a substantial percentage of my year. But one thing it hasn’t deprived me of is my blogging. Every Wednesday I have published my blog, even when on holiday (pre-prepared blogs of course). Many people have read them and some have taken the time to comment which is always pleasing. So before I head into another blogging year I thought I’d look back and see what has occupied my mind and my blog over the last twelve months. True to my front page commitment most of it is either on writing or broadly science fiction. What does amaze me looking back is quite where those two topics have taken me:
The first thing I did in 2014 was set myself writer resolutions (eight of them) and like most people this is the first time I’ve looked at them again. I have achieved some of them, others partially and a few have fallen by the wayside (more on this in 2015).
One of my first writing posts centred on the advice ‘If it doesn’t move the story along take it out’. I then published two posts later in the year looking into all that advice we are bombarded with trying to tease out those ‘nuggets’ I think are worth following and those we should treat with caution (which for me includes ‘If it doesn’t move the story along…’). I think gaining confidence and experience as a writer enables you to know which ‘rules’ you can break and when you are breaking ‘the rules’ you know why you’re doing it.
Then there are my two top activities to help improve your writing, writing a blog and writing short stories. Both give an opportunity to try out new styles and ideas as well as giving rapid feedback. Couple that with joining a writing group and you should be well on your way.
Finally, if you need additional inspiration, take a walk.
Science and science fiction
As a science fiction writer my main preoccupations this year have been the future of our planet, our society and our relationships with machines. As to the first of those I do wonder what we are leaving for future generations. This was sparked by the fact that if we continue consuming the Amazon rainforest at the current rate it will all be gone in two hundred years, along with, I guess, most of the species that depend on it. Then there was other depressing news such as Kenya now have only twelve ‘Tuskers’ left in the whole country thanks to ivory poaching. All this led to a number of blogs questioning what we’re doing to our world and will we come to our senses in time? I also argued that in some ways the only way we will get some perspective on what we are doing is to leave earth, perhaps then we might appreciate what have. I just hope it’s not too late.
The other thing that fascinated me, and I struggle to understand, is that despite all the modern communications the prediction is that the proportion of people living in cities is going to continue to grow and that in 50 years it could reach 75%. Which means those cities will have to change radically if they’re going to cope.
Having written a number of times about artificial intelligence and our relationship with machines it was interesting to read Stephen Hawking’s somewhat doomsday scenario view, even though I don’t agree with it. I think we are on the verge of major changes in our society because of the rise of more and more intelligent machines but it is up to us how that plays out. Also I believe that in the centuries to come the boundaries between human intelligence and machine intelligence will blur.
The year ended in one of the best possible ways for me with a resurgence of interest in space exploration, which I believe is essential for the long term health of mankind. First, Rosetta, that seemingly impossible feat of landing a man-made object on a comet hundreds of millions miles away, then the launch of Orion heralding a new era of manned space exploration.
Well that’s almost it, another year of blogging completed. As well as those mentioned above I did intersperse with a few less serious posts such as my homage to Dr Who, inventions I want to see, technology that annoys me, what I’ve learnt from science fiction and fantasy. If you’ve read some of my blogs I hope you’ve enjoyed them. If you’ve got a bit of time to spare over the holiday period follow some of the links and drop me a note with your opinions/ideas. Finally I wish everyone a Happy Christmas, please try to over indulge.