Last week was good. I went to Norfolk for a week, staying in a lovely stone cottage. I managed to catch up with an old friend, ate lovely food, drank some wine, had some of the local beer, and went for walks with my wife and puppy. I also visited Holt and Norwich, two of my favourite places. Visited some vinyl shops and made some purchases, and generally enjoyed myself on the Norfolk coast.
But, as George Harrsion once famously (and bravely) told some Californian Hells Angels when they came to visit and asked him if he "dug" them, "Yin and yang, heads and tails, yes and no."
Clouds, silver linings, and all that.
Some sobering news, some plans gone astray and some other disappointments. It all balances, doesn't it? At least, I hope it does.
None of this is world shattering, and there are many in far worse positions.
I woke up this morning to a rejection. Due to circumstances, I haven't submitted any stories for a while, but I managed to get this one out during an extremely busy time. I watched as Submission Grinder and Duotrope counted down through their recorded submissions, until there were very few left standing. I started to have hopes I was in the last few, which it turned out I was. Unfortunately I didn't quite make it past the very final cut.
How final? The Table of Contents was announced within a couple of hours of my rejection being sent to me, and I saw the TOC before I'd managed to check my emails.
This is a story I love, and a publisher I regard highly, so it was disppointing to say the least. But I managed to receive a personal and quite lovely rejection.
But onwards and upwards, send it out again, and hope for the best.
People are fascinated by all manner of things, and I find that fascinating.
I'm not just talking about people who like or love something, I'm talking about the collectors or fans who love every aspect of their passion, and thrive on a tiny tidbit of new information that others would roll their eyes at.
There can be a certain amount of elitism and snobbery in fandom. I've witnessed and experienced it myself. A few years ago I was told I wasn't a real football fan as I didn't go to every match. But there are different degrees of fandom and ways to be a fan.
These types of comments remind me of the Detectorists, a TV show about two guys whose hobby is to walk around farm fields with metal detectors looking for treasure, in whatever form that may come. There is one scene, in the video below, where one of the detectors beeps, and they both pause as one of them digs for the item before recovering a ring pull from a can of soda.
Andy: What you got?
Lance: Ring pull... '83... Tizer.
Andy: What do you do with 'em?
Lance: Bag 'em up... Stick 'em on eBay... People buy this shit.
Andy: Sad gits.
Never mind the fact that he was instantly able to tell us the year and the brand the ring pull was from. It's also telling that these guys think the ring pull collectors are the "sad gits". The ring pull collectors probably think the same about these guys.
I sometimes see in the Speculative Fiction world a number of readers or writers who refer to some sports as "sportsball" when pointing out how much they don't like football. I find this term quite condescending as these are people who, for many years, have had to sigh and explain to others that science fiction isn't all about rockets and robots. Perhaps sports fans should start calling SF "robot books" or something.
A bunch of people I know think I'm a Beatles obsessive. I'm not. I collect bits that I can afford and see by chance, but I generally don't hunt for items. On the other hand, I know some fans who want every available pressing of a particular album - even from the same country but pressed at different plants. I know people who can look at a photo of the fabs and tell you the date and the location instantly. (Yeah, I can do that with some photos, but these guys make me look like a know-nothing newbie)
I just love their music, and want to learn more about them. Maybe it's partly because I'm a frustrated guitar player who always wanted to be a real musician.
It's great to be passionate about something, isn't it? To have something that sparks your interest, that makes you want to learn more, to collect and gather and to enjoy. Does it matter if it's wine, fine art or train time-tables?
2020 was quite the year, wasn't it? And when it rolled over into 2021, I just felt fatigued and didn't think there was much to look forward to. There was a definite blurring of days, weeks and months and an expectation that the Sisyphean struggle would continue.
We're a third of the year through, and while life in limbo continues, it doesn't feel as bleak as it did. Perhaps it's the weather. The days are longer, brighter, warmer. Perhaps it's the vaccinations - I've had my first and am waiting to hear on my second. Perhaps it's a few other bits that have fallen into place for me.
Whatever the reason, I'm quite enjoying my life at the moment.
Work has been really busy, but I've enjoyed every moment. I'm listening to some great music at the moment. Really enjoying the films I'm watching and the books I'm devouring. I am very close to completing several projects which have been haunting me for a couple of years. And we got a new puppy.
We lost our two girls over the past two years - good girls who moved with us from Australia and lived to be almost 17. A ripe old age, but we missed them terribly and the house was empty without them
So now we have a new presence in the house, and the house feel like a home again.
Is there anything more joyous than a puppy, bouncing around for no reason, exploring all he can, and excited by everything?
He is a good boy, completely adorable, and is filled with personality. You'll all get to know him, and love him as we do.