Monday, December 31, 2012

Musings on the End of a *Busy* Year

Okay, okay. I know I said that I probably wouldn't be blogging again until sometime in January but, to be honest, the alternative is getting up on the roof to clean out the gutters of the house and, after having spent a couple of hellish hours up there the other day doing some other work, I'm really not at all enthusiastic at the prospect. (Also, I haven't finished my coffee yet...)

So instead, here we are. Time for that traditional 'Year in Review' type post (though, in my case it's more traditional to do it sometime around Feb 25...)

Looking back at 2012, I can't help but notice that I've only managed to put up a grand total of 14 blog posts here, including this one. This is a significant drop on the previous three years, but not without reason.

That reason being simply this: 2012 was completely bloody insane. I can't remember a time in my life when I've been more constantly busy, or exhausted.

But, that said, it's also been a year of highlights, which is far preferable to the alternative.

Said highlights would include:

  • Signing up 'The Hunter' with my new agent Cheryl in NYC (who has since made me do three rewrites across the intervening months. Feedback on the most recent one still pending, but I'm looking forward to it. As I am to writing the next three books in the series*)
  • Getting the 2012 ACLAR conference organised, and then running it (with lots of assistance from lots of lovely people). In a lot of ways, this was probably the professional highlight of my year, even though I didn't blog too much about it. Seeing two years of solid work come together over three seamless days was a really unexpected thrill. Which was followed by...
  • Spending time in Vietnam and Indonesia with various elements of my family. THis last year has been a big one for family type things. Min and Toby and I spent a couple of weeks in Vietnam with her mother, plus my sister and brother in Law, before travelling down to Indonesia for a week with my sister and brother-in-law and their kids, and my parents. And it strikes me how terribly lucky I am to have such a close extended family in both directions. We even managed to all travel together without killing one another...
  • Developing that theme - Vietnam was amazing. I just completely fell in love with the place. Also..
  • Pho. Best. Breakfast. Ever.
  • Back at work, second semester was similarly crazy, but the good kind. I got a good wrap up in my annual review, a teaching award plus an invitation to apply for a national award next year, had lovely classes, worked with great sessional staff, my honours students all did really, really well, and my PhD students hit a few home runs too at various conferences. Plus at the end of it all I got promoted to convener of writing for next year. In the middle of all that...
  • Attending and speaking at the inaugural 'Celebrate Reading' annual conference run by the Literature Centre in Fremantle. This was another complete highlight, not least because it was effectively three days of hanging out with some of my favourite writer people: Jim Roy, Isobelle Carmody, Gary Crew, Matt Ottley, Shaun Tan, Jackie French, Lucy Christopher and Julia Lawrinson. The final session of this conference, which involved all of us on stage telling our favourite 'War Stories', was one of the most side-splittingly funny hours I've ever spent at a writing event.
  • Helping my clever wife get her PhD finished and submitted. In my last post, I referred to this, but didn't go into detail. Suffice to say that it involved three pretty insane days during which Toby more-or-less stayed with his grandmother while Min and I set up camp in her office at ANU. Her thesis is amazing! And I'm not just saying that because I'm her husband. I'll admit that I went into the proof-reading process expecting to find it a bit of a slog (not being an expert in International Law, and all that...) but was blown away by both the central argument, and the weight of support for it. Really amazing. It was also, in it's own odd way, quite a 'fun' couple of nights. You haven't lived until you've scrounged dinner from a law school vending machine at 2330 on a Sunday night.***
  • Finally, just to round out the year, (and as mentioned last post) we got ourselves a new house. All going well (and it is, at the moment, touch wood...) we'll be moving early february**** Which means that I'm spending my summer holiday valiantly attempting to get about 12 months worth of house repairs and renovation done in roughly 3 weeks. Today the skip bin should arrive so that we can start pulling out carpets. Before then, though, I've got to clean those gutters I mentioned earlier. Plus go to the gym.
  • On top of that, there's the random stuff: learning to play Ukelele (which has, in turn, gotten me back into more regular playing of my other instruments) Judging the ACT Chief Minister's Literary award, which meant that I got to read an awful lot of really good writing, hops up to Sydney and down to Melbourne for various academic and masterclass gigs, having an abstract accepted for a big conference in Maastricht next year, plus lots of other stuff that doesn't occur to me right at the moment.
Finally, of course, one of the very big highlights of 2012 was watching my little boy continue to grow, and turn from being a toddler into a boy. And, importantly, moving from Duplo to proper Lego. I've been waiting for that moment for quite some time... 

So, that's been my year. Pretty crazy, absolutely exhausting for the most part, but reward-filled. And 2013 seems to be heading down a similar path. But hopefully with more than 14 blog posts...

Thanks everyone for your patience during this very sporadic year of posts, and do keep popping by. Have a great and safe New Year's!

* Says the man who swore at the completion of the Darklands books that he'd never, ever, EVER sign up to a multi-book narrative ever again**
**Aplogies to Taylor Swift.
***Though the less said about the 33,000 words of footnotes which I individually checked against the bibliography and thesis references, the better...
**** At exactly the same time as I'm starting teaching for the semester, and stepping fully into my new course convener role. Go me.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Just When You Thought I'd Given Up Completely...

Remember January? That halcyon, golden summer last year, when I committed to blogging here every single week during 2012? No? Good. I don't remember it, either.

So it's been a busy* semester. And next year is looking similarly frantic, but there are a lot of good things happening.

Probably the biggest one is that our little family is on the move! Okay, we're not going too far, just across Canberra, but a week or so back we found a lovely house in one of the suburbs that we've always looked at and sighed wistfully. Just for good measure, it was exactly within our (recently much improved) buying capacity. So we bought it. Looked at it for the first time at 2 O'clock on a monday afternoon, put in an offer at around 2.45, and had it accepted just after 3.15. By 5.30 we'd signed up to sell our existing place with the same agent (she's nice. We like her...) and by 6.00 we were sitting on our couch, rather dazed, saying things like 'Well. That was unexpected.' to one another.

Now we're having fun trying to sort out our finance during what is, effectively, the christmas shutdown for most of the financial industry. But it's all looking very positive, anyway...

Other news: My clever wife also submitted her PhD last week. (Yes, you're correct. We did go and buy a new house just 7 days from her submission date. If you're going to put yourself under pressure, you might as well go the whole hog, we figure...) This meant that the two of us spent most of last weekend editing and proofreading furiously. I personally checked every one of just over 33,000 words of footnotes, including thousands of individual references and case citations. Took roughly 16 hours. We finished up at 3.00am monday morning, nipped home for a refreshing 4 hours sleep, then got back to the finishing touches and printing so that Min could hand it over at 2.30. Then we went and had a drink.

So now it's just a horrible wait for the results.

And, come the start of next year, I'll be writing again, too. My plan is to knock out books 2 and 3 of 'The Hunter', hopefully by mid-year. (book 1, in case you're interested, is still with my Agent in New York. Fingers crossed I'll have some news on that front sometime early in the new year...)

After that it'll be time for some academic writing, preparing for a conference I'm off to in Holland next year in August. I'm also editing (and contributing) to an academic book on questions of truth and honesty in Children's and YA literature.

Plus, of course, next year I'm going to get back into blogging more seriously. Really. Proper blogging, too - not just these newsy posts that nobody except my mother has any real interest in.

In the meantime, though, I've got a bit of last minute shopping to do, so I'm going to sign off here. Chances of me signing back on anytime before mid January are pretty small, to be honest (I've got about 18 months worth of house renovations to do in roughly 3 weeks!) so I'm going to thank all my readers for their interminable patience with me this year, and wish everyone a Happy Festive Season - however and whatever you celebrate - and hope you all stay safe.

Cheers. T

*Busy [v / adjbiz─ô: full time teaching load, revising next draft of next book, supervision of 5 Phd and 3 honours students, presenting keynote addresses at 2 conferences, helping wife prepare and submit her PhD thesis, organising and running a birthday party for 15 sugar-loaded 4-year-olds, buying a house, selling a house, grading and moderating roughly 350,000 words worth of student work, marking 2 PhD thesis, running masterclasses in sydney, occasionally exercising, being father to an increasingly-energetic little boy, re-discovering Lego.


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