Quarterly Review: Jan-Mar 2017

Something I tried a year ago on YouTube was a “quarterly review” video, to look back over the previous three months and examine different areas of my life. That didn’t really pan out. But given the fact that I have the images I used for the video, still, and I’m trying to open back up to the online community, let’s try it again in writing.

I have a lot of books. If I took a “shelfie”, I’d need to take several photos, because my room doesn’t allow me to fit my books in one place. (The curse of an attic room – slanted ceilings!) That said, there aren’t a lot of books jumping out at me that I’ve read over the past three months – none more so than Words for Pictures by Brian Michael Bendis. To explain it simply, it’s about the art of writing comics and graphic novels. I won’t claim Bendis is the best person to teach this stuff, but I’ve enjoyed several books he’s worked on, and I already had the book, so I gave it a shot. At the very least, it provided a good starting point for understanding the process a bit better. I have a couple of other books on the subject that need to be read properly – Making Comics by Scott McCloud and Writing for Comics and Graphic Novels by Peter David – so it comes down to availability and need for each person when they’re choosing which one to read first. Words for Pictures was, in a word, accessible.

Picking one movie out of everything I’ve seen this year so far is difficult. I go to the cinema every week. It’s a tough choice. La La Land is up there as one of the most enjoyable, but I think I preferred Get Out – and Moonlight was technically a better movie. Get Out definitely has the benefit of recency over a lot of the others I’ve seen – John Wick 2 was brilliant – but I think it was also one of the most interesting movies I’ve seen in a long time. Dark and funny, with an incredibly strong cast. I’ve been calling it Rich, Old White People are Scary: The Movie since I saw it. So hey, let’s say it was my favourite and pretend that I’m not just forgetting other movies.

This is where things get really tough for me, because I don’t always find new music. On a recurring basis, this one might be impossible to keep up. But this time around, taking a quick look at the most recent additions to my iTunes library, one song stands out: All Good People, as covered by RANGE a cappella. It says a lot to me about the current state of things in the world, and feels very much like a rallying call for being a better person in a better community of awesomeness – the very thing that drew me into the Nerdfighter community years ago. (It also helps that I am 300% obsessed with RANGE at the moment.)

My events this year (at least, from January to March) are sorely limited in scope to three iterations of The Geek Mart. They weren’t always big and exciting. But February. Oh boy February. We had a convention in to sell tickets (Shurikon – they were lovely). That brought a lot of people. We hadn’t had an event that busy in a while. Circumstances always got in the way, but now Dublin City Comics & Collectibles were involved, and Predators Ireland were on the prowl with flyers in the streets. It was probably my best month for sales – at least as far as I can recall – and it made it properly believe that I could do this sort of thing. Maybe not for a living (my sales were good, but I wouldn’t make a living on what I earned even if I did that well every weekend of the year…) but as a start? It was wonderful. And, even aside from the obvious benefits of money (which got put away to pay off my share of my K-Con hotel stay!) it was a fun event for the buzz of excitement that came with all the people. The Geek Mart has been a home-away-from-home for me for a long time, and it felt like it was just waiting for something like the February event to happen.

Okay, so I wrote a fair bit at the start of this year, so I’m actually going to give two answers to this one. My absolute favourite was A Death in the Family. I’ve written about that a lot on this blog lately. I’ve never been happier with a book that I published. But I also had a few short stories that I loved when I wrote them. My two favourites in that category, that I can’t pick between, are The Hat Collector, about a guy who has a hat for every occasion (including a Thinking Cap and a Chef’s Hat), and The Monochrome Marriage (which ties in to The Local Necromancer and A Death in the Family), about a man who kills himself and then his wife. (Yep, you read that right.) I fell in love with the ideas of those short stories, and I feel like A Death in the Family deals most honestly with who I am now. I also love my pitch for it to potential readers: it’s about a guy who gets a job as a Grim Reaper to pay off his parents’ supernatural mortgage.

So, a little late to the game for this one – I’ve already had my first two events for the quarter. But let’s look at the rest. Two more Geek Marts, including OUR BIRTHDAY. An 80,000 word writing target for this month. A comic script to finish for one artist. A comic script to write for another. A book to edit. Articles to pitch. A podcast to start. Videos to record and edit. A documentary to edit. A blog to revive. They look like little things when they’re put down on paper like that, but it all screams to me as a lot of work. So there’s the other thing: take care of myself. I know how I get when I give myself too much to do, and it’s only become apparent in the last few months how much is too much for me to handle in an out-of-work environment.

So I’ll take it somewhat easy. I’ll focus on one thing at a time. This month, the book edits and some writing. I’ll take on some of the work for the documentary. I’ll plan articles, and send off pitches every week. I have to, to start doing something to look after the other parts of me that can so easily be ignored (like the desire to do well professionally.) We’ll have our birthday party in May for the Geek Mart. And by then, hopefully, I’ll have made a change in my life that means something more than words getting lost online.

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About Paul Carroll

Paul Carroll is a writer, born, raised and still living in Dublin. By day he's a student and bookseller, by night he writes fiction and uses social media.
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