The year is almost over but I am sick and tired so I’m going to bed early. According to the tradition, this is 2017, in writing…
I wrote two articles for the Hopscotch Friday magazine and the issue was published online. I wrote the feature article Black Metal Revenge Fantasy and interviewed satirical black metal band Hazeen about Islamophobia in Australia. I also wrote an autobiographical article titled A Godawful Small Affair that reflects on David Bowie’s Life on Mars.
I released my latest comic, GROUNDED, written by myself with art by Cody Anderson. GROUNDED is a 12-page short story that will feature in the upcoming anthology DEAD ENDS II. I spoke about GROUNDED, as well as Chadwick’s new book A LOAD OF OLD WAFFLE, on Radio Adelaide’s Arts Breakfast programme.
I co-wrote an article for The Guardian as marriage equality legislation came before the House in December. I’ve done some religion writing in the past and this piece was written with friend and advocate Brad Chilcott. The article reflected on the sad history of rightwing resistance to reform in Australia and the meaning of ‘family values’ in the religious tradition.
I stepped down from the role of Managing Editor for the australiancomicsjournal.com in August. Between the baby and my day job, my availability has changed significantly this year, and the workload of running the site was no longer tenable. It was a pleasure to work with Gary Chaloner, Ben Kooyman and Amy Maynard over the last three years. I will miss covering the best Australian comics and providing a platform to deserving books.
2017 turned out to be the most challenging year of my adult life. My son’s sleep difficulties were uniquely crushing over the last 12 months. I have continued working full-time as a copywriter on little sleep, month after month.
This year also saw a return to freelancing in my spare time, which meant that I have gone back into the lion’s den of pitching and drafting. I worked on three different drafts of one article over seven months and ultimately saw the piece, amicably, knocked back. I’ve pitched several more pieces and saw several more rejections. To be honest, I have never been more exhausted by my writing workload, but it’s felt good.
I lost my dog this year, two days before my son’s first birthday. My Cocker Spaniel, named Mac, suddenly whimpered, fell, and died within a minute. I knelt over him, with my baby son on my knee, and stroked him, telling him that he was loved until he died.
As a puppy, Mac started to sleep on my toes while I wrote and appeared there any instance that I worked from home. There has simply been no personal project of significance that I have worked on in the last 10 years without him at my feet. If I worked late, he’d stay at my side and if the insomnia struck and I rose in the middle of the night to write, he’d join me in the study. Over 10 years, two cities and five homes, he always had a bed beneath my desk. I cannot stop missing him. His bed remains at my feet as I write.
At the start of the year I found myself somewhat defeated by sleep-deprivation, looming deadlines and the nagging awareness of editors waiting on work. One bleak morning, I hastily scrawled five writing-rules onto a page torn from a notebook. The rules were simple and idiosyncratic enough to embarrass me if I was to list them here, but looking back over the achievements of this year, it occurs to me that following those parameters worked.
2017 has been a challenge, but it is over now. The baby is sleeping through the night. My wife planted a tree in the garden to mark where I laid the dog. I’m smoothing out my writing-rules on my desk. 2018 is about to begin.