Thursday, March 31, 2022

Andy Remic

I haven't been able to write this post for some time. I've wanted to, but just haven't been able to get the words down.

My friend, Andy Remic, passed away just over a month ago. It wasn't unexpected, although it was sooner than we'd thought.

It was a couple of coincidences that brought me into Andy's orbit. We shared several interests, and both loved writing. Andy, of course, was a well know SF and Fantasy writer with a string of credits to his name. I'm just a guy who sells the occasional short story. But Andy treated me like a peer. He not only taught me a great deal but asked my advice and opinion. Due to circumstances, Andy didn't write for a few years. But when he did return to writing, with a short story for Grimdark Magazine, I was thrilled when he asked me to crit it for him. I was really pleased he incorporated most of my suggestions.

We talked of collaborating on some fiction, but time got away from us. Andy started writing a script - I have the early draft here somewhere - and was planning to film a series of short films featuring us both. But in the past few years, Andy's focus was on film-making. He made a series of documentaries on the early days of computer games, mostly centred around the Spectrum, one of his great loves. Writing wasn't abandoned, though, as he had started writing another novel, incomplete at his passing.

We weren't able to see each other too often in the past couple of years, mostly due to the pandemic and especially with his vulnerability due to his medical conditions. We planned to catch up, but it was close to two years before I saw him one final time.

I was privileged and thrilled to be invited to his wedding a few months ago. I think like many people, I was surprised at his changed appearance and physicality due to his illness. We managed to grab 20 minutes to chat at the reception. And that was fantastic. We didn't speak about his illness at all, except when he mentioned his discomfort. We spoke about life, film, Philip K Dick, teaching and writing. And beyond his appearance, there was an even bigger change evident.

Andy was a straight-talker. He had no time for people who were dishonest or messed him around, and he could be quick to see red. There were a couple of times at conventions, for instance, where I'd have a quiet chat to try and calm him. And since I'd known Andy, there were certain events and people towards which he was angry.

But at his wedding he was the calmest, and most serene I'd ever seen him. He seemed accepting of much of what had happened to him. I sensed he had forgiven much and felt comfortable. He told me that he was progressing with his new novel, and that he was in the right headspace to be writing. He told me he was past the anger he had held. And he told me it was all due to his new wife, Linda.

I don't know Linda anywhere near as well as I knew Andy (and that wasn't anywhere near as well as I would have liked.) but I like her a lot. She was good for Andy, and I got the impression he was good for her. 

Andy told me how much Linda meant to him, that she was his rock and had eased the anger from inside him. He told me how special she was, and that he didn't know where he would be without her.

Don't get me wrong, he also spent time talking about his boys, how much they mean to him, and how proud he was of them. But when he was talking about Linda, it sounded almost as if she had saved him.

And my heart aches to see Linda going through all this.

Andy was my friend and my writing mentor. Just yesterday, my Facebook memory was:

Despite his nagging, just spent a fantastic afternoon in the company of Andy Remic. Talked books, writing, publishing and music amongst other topics.
Once again I leave feeling inspired and having learned so much.
Thanks, Andy.

Yeah, he always nagged me to write a novel - sometimes loudly and in front of other people. He always said good things about my words.

Tomorrow is his funeral, and although invited, I can't go for reasons beyond my control. And I'm absolutely gutted. I want to be there to remember, to celebrate his life, to mourn his untimely passing, to wish him Godspeed, and to be with others who feel the same way.

I'll be doing all that, but from the comfort of my home.

Farewell, Andy. Sleep well.

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Back to Writing.

I've been working on a story.

True, it's a rewrite rather than a fresh story, but it's a major rewrite with restructures and plot changes. And a fairly interesting change to the ending. It's also writing - something I haven't done for enjoyment for a long while.

Most of my writing over the past few years has been academic in nature, as I undertook further studies. But that's now out of the way and I'm in the right place and space to be creative once more. I have this story I like. It's had some close calls, and last year I subbed it last minute to an anthology I wanted to be part of. They held it for a very long time, and it was only cut at the 11th hour. So eleventh hour that I woke up and saw the TOC in an announcement before I checked my emails to see the rejection.

It was a lovely rejection, and very positive, but disappointing, of course, as I had hoped to sell to this particular publisher.

Oh well.

But a month or so later I revisited this story, just to read it, and realised I had not sent the latest version. Also, it contained a few embarrassing errors.

But this story is now rewritten, and although I thought it was a fine piece before, I feel it is all the better now.

And so it's back into the internet to find a suitable market. I have a couple in mind. But before it goes anywhere, I'll wait a week and give it another read.

I mean, I wouldn't want to send out a story that contained too many mistakes now, would I?

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Some Things New Under the Sun.

According to a quick search on google, and clicking on the first site that appeared, this year is the Chinese year of the Water Tiger. And apparently this means it will bring a confident and authoritative energy to us all, as tigers are aggressive, tenacious, ambitious, competitive, and strong.

I suppose there is something quite zen about my approach to this "research", and perhaps I lucked out and it's entirely accurate. But I must admit to feeling rather optimistic about this coming year.

Now, this may simply be down to a few factors, such as moving home recently, having my desk at a large window where I can look out over a garden, watching Spring arrive and flowers appear in this garden, a couple of opportunities arising in my job, and several personal events which have all been positive. It could, however, be argued that some of these are the result of the Tiger Year, or it could be these coincidental and seasonal events have shaped my world view.

Does it really matter?

Ultimately, I have a renewed confidence in things. My head is in a good space, and I have several things to look forward to. Sure, the pandemic is still all around, and there are other matters close to my heart and mind which concern me, but overall, things are pretty good.

Once again I have tentative plans for writing, music and publishing. Plans also extend into a few other areas as well. I have some travel plans, some visitor plans (receiving, that is), and social plans. Not all of these will eventuate, but I have high hopes for some of them.

In the Fortean world, I've seen an increase in reports and documentaries on UFOs. And I've seen some state that this year is the year of disclosure, that there will be leaked and official videos and documentation, that this could be the year that governments admit cover-ups and long term knowledge of UAPs and EBEs. That we have the technology, and we have made first contact.

It would be nice, I think, to know that there are others out there. I believe there are. Have they visited us? Do the governments know this? I don't know, but if they do, then it's time to be more open.

[hums the five note sequence from Close Encounters]

Will they disclose? Will I write and sell a story this year? Will my other plans come to fruition?

The truth is out there.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Australia Day in the UK.

It's Australia Day. And for many Australians, myself included, that doesn't really mean much.

Growing up, it was a public holiday which meant a day off school. But it wasn't a day we "celebrated" as such. No one wished you a Happy Australia Day, we didn't put flags up, we didn't do anything special or eat a particular meal. It didn't really seem to have much depth at all, apart from some civic fireworks or maybe a local 'Australia Day' branded concert or something.

But like Halloween, which also had no real meaning when I grew up, it's starting to gain traction as an event, to become something more than what it was.

I'm not going to get into any discussion on whether the date should be moved, apart from it absolutely should. I'm not posting this as some kind of national pride thing. I'm writing this because I'm currently sitting in a small English village in the middle of winter and some English friends have wished me a Happy Australia Day.

Sure, I have played it up a little. In our weekly meeting at work on Monday, I was asked what was happening this week. Rather than commence with my deadlines and plans, I told them Tuesday was Burns Night and Wednesday was Australia Day, which provided them with a fantastic opportunity to celebrate me as a colleague. Without a pause, our meeting moderator replied, "We do, Steve, every single day."

But I suppose all the posts on social media have made me think a little about Australia. And my family and friends. And that it's still not easily visitable.

The world is a different place since I last visited Australia more than two years ago. It was just before the pandemic, and if I had gone with my original plan to visit in March of 2020, I wouldn't have been back in around 4 years.

I love Australia, and I miss my family and friends, but in some ways I feel more at home in the UK than I do in Australia. I feel a connection with the land here. And I've felt it every single time I've arrived. I especially feel it when I'm up in Scotland. 

But I would dearly love to visit Australia sooner rather than later.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Shhhhh. The Secret Project.

I'm working on a secret project at the moment. Nobody has told me it's a secret, and there's nothing particularly special about it. But for personal reasons, I choose not to share it at this time.

It's something I've thought about for a long time now and have decided to take the plunge. It's something writing relating I want to do for my own enjoyment, and I guess for my own benefit, and it's something which I will enjoy.

I often see writers post on social media that they're working on a secret project. I must admit to sometimes wondering why the project is secret. Is it because they've been asked not to talk about it, or because it might not eventuate, or are they simply trying to build an air of mystery around the life of a writer?

Yes, I get curious when they post about these projects, but I don't ever really remember any later official announcement that made me thing "Aha! That's what they were working on!" But don't worry, I will share this project when the time is right. I'll even make it easy for you to identify and recognise by starting with, "Do you remember that secret project I mentioned?"

I might have to swear a couple of people to secrecy, though, as there are elements that will require advice and guidance.  Does any know where I left the cone of silence?