2014: Overture

So that was 2014, almost. Very nearly all of it, though I can’t help but feeling that there’s still something lingering behind the curtain, waiting for us to declare our said-and-dones, so it can finally leap out and catch us unawares.
That in itself would hardly be a surprise, in such a strange and cacophonous year. With story edits, choir rehearsals, and half-marathon training, I figuratively and literally hit the ground running in January. Yet it would be Easter before any of these things began to resolve themselves into the strains that would come to define the year.
Eastercon: Satellite 4 was a con of firsts [Blog]. I made my first ever convention panel appearances, alongside folks such as Jacey Bedford, Tony Ballentyne and Gillian Redfearn. I had my first ever book launch for La Femme, the NewCon Press anthology, where I was delighted to find my story ‘The Honeytrap’ in the esteemed company of tales by Frances Hardinge, Maura McHugh, Storm Constantine, Jonathan Oliver and many more.
Then a late night chat with Hal Duncan about The Scruffians’ “aktchual original lyrics” for ‘An Unfortunate Rake’ led to me singing in public for the first time in fifteen years [Blog], as part of his own Eastercon reading. This set the pattern for 2014, a year where opportunities would suddenly emerge from chance conversations and unexpected coincidences, there to be leapt upon or chased, and damn my anxieties.
So when Worldcon hit London this year for Loncon 3 [Blog], I took a chance on last minute opening, and found myself on panels with the likes of Melinda Snodgrass, Jeremy Zerfoss, Bill Sutton and Nicholle Lamerichs. Once again, I gave a reading for the splendid folks at the Pirate Program fringe (for whom I’d given my debut reading at World Fantasycon the previous November). By the end of the year, I’d even given my first poetry reading, a medium I’ve rarely worked in – at least, before now.
In terms of the published fiction, more random chances: with La Femme I managed to cross appearing in an Ian Whates anthology off the Bucket List. I was chuffed to return to Fox Spirit, with ‘Blueprint for Red Wings’ appearing in the Girl At The End of the World anthology. Aside from that, this was a year of experimentation with both genre and form – not just poetry, but micro-fiction, pure fantasy, historical fiction, overtly experimental fiction, and so on. The greater part of the writing I did in 2014 won’t be appearing for a while yet (although, keep your eye on the January issue of Far Horizons), but there’s a giddy thrill in pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, out into areas where you’ve fuck all clue what you’re doing, and waking up to find you’re still there in the morning.
On the photography front, same melody – though a different key: Another chance exchange led to my first ever promo shoot. My shots of baroque folk band By Toutatis [Blog] would end up in the Evening Chronicle and being used as far away as the Middle East [More Blog]. I shot a bunch of local and not-so local bands [Many Blogs], and started working for Drowned In Sound too, shooting bands from RM Hubbert to Mastodon.

Elsewhere in rock journalism, while I continued to review for Thrash Hits, my Swedish Agent (Benny Bols, Death Folk pioneer) also wrote his first columns for Mass Movement Magazine.
There was more. At Fantasycon, I volunteered as a Redcloak [Blog], an experience that gave me a fresh insight into the reality of running a convention. In a personal triumph for someone who spent their teenage years suffering for their weight, I ran my first half-marathon [Blog] – and, thanks to the generosity of you lovely people, raised £340 for Mind. I started learning the ukulele (God help us all), and I started this blog, of course.
Most exhilarating has been rediscovering my love of musical performance. In April, I’d find myself performing in Durham Cathedral, as part of Durham County Youth Choir‘s 50th anniversary celebrations [Blog]. But this year was mostly about a capella song. After Eastercon, I sang folk tunes at parties and pubs, in hallways and late nights on bridges. While not everytime was a success, it felt good to be returning to something I hadn’t done in so long, and find my love for it was still as deep as ever.
As it stands, 2014 has opened up some unexpected opportunities. Some new and experimental, others as old and familiar as childhood ditties. There have been some successes, some failures – as they stand right now – and Lord knows all my anxieties are still firmly in place, but… Now I know they’re there. Some of these opportunities may find me in a very different place to where I am now, by the time I’ve wised where they’re leading me, pied piper-like. That could be six months from now; it could be six years. For now, 2015 will find me in the wings, waiting for the overture to finish, and just the right moment to step out onto the stage.

Photo by GJB Performance Photography
Photo by GJB Performance Photography

2 thoughts on “2014: Overture

  1. “there’s a giddy thrill in pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, out into areas where you’ve fuck all clue what you’re doing, and waking up to find you’re still there in the morning.”

    Yep, why I’m not hamstringing myself this year, will take the chances even if they scare me.

    Well done you on a year of living.

    1. Thank you, and I’m glad to see you’re continuing to gather notches yourself.

      This is a wonderful plan of yours, and I really can’t wait to sample the fruits of your hard work and experimentation. Those chances are yours for the taking, Cat.

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