gillpolack (gillpolack) wrote,

Year in Review

I'm skipping all the deaths and all the illness and all the angst. I'm ignoring the manuscript that has been with a publisher for nine months and the fact that my flat is falling apart at the seams. I'm not even thinking of financial crises. They all happened, but they are the reason why I need to remember just how good this year has been to me. It's very easy to walk into the laundry and see all the tiles that are falling. It's hard to remember that - just because only one piece of fiction hit print this year - it has actually been a really good year professionally. Not everything gets measured in terms of how together a life is or on how many publications I can add to my 'whew, that's finally seen light of day' shelf.

Fiction was quiet in terms of getting into print. I had a reprint of something, and my 'Horrible Historians' story managed to cause some unsettled laughter in the US. If I wrote more short stories, things would be different, perhaps, because novels are slower beasts. Also, if the one story I *did* write hadn't turned out to be a bit of a hot potato, I might have written more short pieces. I will worry about hot potatoes next year.

Non-fiction was a bit less frantic than last year but still pretty busy. Lots of reviews went up on the ASiF site, for instance, and Bruce Gillespie published a piece of mine about Cordwainer Smith. I had a couple of academic thingies (note the important technical scholarly language) find their way into the world, one of which was refereed. My total short non-fiction publication count is almost impossible to determine: I lost count at 150 late last year. It's probably around the 200 mark now. This is good, though if I kept better track I could have a really long CV, which would annoy people and thus would be worthwhile. I would rather maintain the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild's bibliography site than list my own non-fiction. (I know I'm strange, you don't have to tell me.)

I started a food history blog. I needed more places where I could talk about food and history and I needed a place to start documenting tested recipes for the Regency Gothic Banquet for Conflux in 2007.

I did some fun stuff, too, this year. I was a guest at Sydney's Freecon, for instance, which was my first ever guestdom as a writer at any kind of convention. I really enjoy the Freecons and would have been there anyhow. The difference was that I got to be snarky from the front of the room instead of the back and that I got to do a reading from two different books - the one I am currently working on and the one that is forthcoming. And I got given wine and had a totally enjoyable day. Maybe if I have more totally enjoyable days I will end up with more wine?

One experience to be treasured was being an Aurealis judge. There were about three days which were a tad fraught and the rest was just wonderful. I'm a reading addict and Aurealis judging is a reading addict's daydream. I became a running gag at the Post Office Delivery Centre when I went to pick up my book parcels, which was also cool. "More books for you, Gillian. What a surprise."

I was a guest in the ASiF Forum for two weeks. There's nothing better than being asked interesting questions about subjects you love by people of great intelligence. There are some fascinating writers appearing in the Forum soon, too. I need to find some intelligence so I can ask them interesting questions :). I'm re-reading Jane Routley's books for this purpose, but mostly because I enjoy them and it's about time they were re-read. Books get grumpy when they are neglected for too long, you know.

I continued to be the evil behind-the-scenes controller of the Australian Speculative Fiction Carnival, which has made it into a second year. And I continue to work with other writers on historical backgroundish stuff. Just one example: Felicity Pullman saw two more volumes of her Janna series published - they just keep getting better. I wish I could claim it was my historical advising that makes them get better and better, but it's her writing.

I helped with the set-up of New Ceres and it all started with a story of mine and a political-social setup I dreamed up. Now it is all growed up and gone onto great things without me. I would be all tearful about this, but the team running it (led by Alisa Krasnostein, who read the story and had the big vision of the magazine and shared-world) is really good and the project doesn't need me at all. Which is great, because something in my brain keeps nagging me to write a New Ceres novel and I don't have the time to work on a magazine at that level and write my own fiction.

I was one of the assistant editors on Donna Hanson's entirely amazing overview of Australian speculative fiction and helped a bit with Nicole Murphy's Outcast anthology. And with other things. Please feel free to accuse me of having forgotten I helped with something. If there are more things lurking in my past then that will explain why I feel so tired!

One of my stories was in the recommended list for Datlow/Link/Grant's Year's Best. What is especially cool is that this story is a follow-up to the novel for which I am still waiting a rejection. There's chance that more of the adventures of Judith the Jewish feminist Sydneysider magic-wielding mother will see light of day. I want this to happen because she is sarcastic. The world needs more sarcasm. It also needs more feminist Jewish magicians with teenage children.

I was invited to do several really cool workshops. The one at the Jewish Museum didn't transpire, but the one at the National Convention in Brisbane was tremendous fun and it meant I got to finally get to a Brisbane Convention (Kate and Heather and Robert all rock!) with the help of an ArtsACT travel grant. The other workshops were all in Canberra. The 'write your own wizard' one for teens was the best of all, because it was advertised once and got overflow from the overflow and ended up being run and run again and again.

I gave a bunch of talks in a bunch of places and have completely lost track. There was one in the Blue Mountains, I remember that much. And one in Sydney when I talked about writing using maps to the inaugural meeting of Australian Jewish Women in the Arts. And I was on a cool panel at Magic Casements and several panels at Continuum and Conflux and Conjure. I had two radio interviews. My favourite was the local ABC one, where I managed to make both the interviewer and the recording person laugh.

I was on that Citizen's Jury and did a bunch of learning, which helped with the withdrawal symptoms from all the committees in my past. It also meant I got a bit more understanding of global warming and am now rather cynical about much media. I was so trusting until that moment. (And I lie very effectively.)

Three weeks of my year were used up by two Fellowships. I had a Macquarie Bank Longlines Fellowship in summer and a Blue Mountains Fellowship in winter and both of them took me to Varuna where I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. 'Chocolate Redemption' came from that, and I intend to finish editing it this week and start it hunting a home in January. I hate the moment of sending manuscripts out into the world, but this one has chocolate and kittens and a bit of magic so it really does need to be read. How can one not want to read about chocolate? Especially when it was the substance that most got me through this frantic year.

Chocolate and friends - life is very small without them.
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