2015 – A Year in Review

2015. Well, a year of many changes. I had the short story published at the start of the year. Moved back to Adelaide. Started a TAFE course and a new job.

Not a great deal on the actual writing front but what I have written for TAFE has been well received (except for the Write Articles for Publication subject which was quite painful, but also gave me a greater respect for those who work in the journalism industry). But TAFE, oh TAFE, what a ripper you did just before our last assignment was due. In short, due to budgets and other factors, TAFE decided to end the course I have been studying. TAFE gave us the option to exit with the Diploma at the end of Semester 1 in 2017. Now this left me in a place that for the topics I really wanted to do as electives, that was pretty much impossible to gain the Advanced Diploma with a full time work load, which from day 1 TAFE stated was impossible to complete. After much frustration and looking at other options, I let the deadline to register for next year pass me by and decided to not continue with the course. I didn’t see the point in doing the subjects and only receiving a Certificate of Attainment, or exiting with a Diploma that turns out isn’t even recognised nationally (I was under the impression when I enrolled, the course was recognised nationally). With this, I’ve become quite disillusioned with TAFE and won’t recommend anyone studying through them for any Creative Writing course they do offer.

On the positive side, the short story I wrote for the TAFE course is being expanded upon at the moment, reinstating a whole section that I had to cut out from the original version due to the word count length. Since starting work on it just before Christmas, another 1000 words have been added and quite a lot more to come.

On the reading side, I managed to read 23 books for the year. I burnt through the rest of the entire The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. Some books have been fantastic to one or two being in the okay range. Highlights for me included the last few Dresden novels particularly from Changes onwards, Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence was a real find (one I was interested in reading but was hesitant to pay full price until I found a second hand copy), Leviathian Wakes by James S.A. Corey (quite possibly my favourite of the year, a true SF novel that did so much world building and told a fantastic story, which the TV series The Expanse is based upon), and The Martian by Andy Weir, which packed so much fun and real science into a brilliant novel.

So bring on 2016, which I hope to have more written and more books read.



What resources do you have in your own collection?

As part of the Advanced Diploma of Arts (Professional Writing) that I am now undertaking, there are a number of resources that are required and a number that are recommended. In discussion with other writers, I have had some options as well. The first one that any writer needs is the Style Manual for Authors, Editors and Printers. I have already referenced this several times in the first assignment for the ‘Edit and Present Manuscripts’ subject. It covers not only punctuation, spelling and grammar, but other topics such as design and publishing. Well worth the $50 for a paperback edition, or less if you can find it second hand.

Dictionaries! There are so many out there on the market these days, just don’t go for the cheapest option on the shelf. A fellow writer (Amanda J Spedding) recommended a good Oxford Dictionary. She uses the word exsanguinate as the basis of selecting a good one. I had a good hunt around but the cheapest for brand new was around the $70 mark, so I headed to my favourite second hand book store and picked up a hardcover edition of the Oxford English Reference Dictionary for $20 along with a copy of the Collins A to Z of Grammar and Punctuation.

Last but not least, another invaluable resource is the Collins Dictionary for Writers & Editors. This one covers what needs to be capitalised and common mistakes where it should either be one word or two words. I had a flick through and learnt that the word Gestalt is meant to be capitalised, but can be lowercase but this is less common. If you are looking at becoming an editor, highly essential!

The number of resources for any writer these days is growing. Google is your friend when it comes to searching for anything, along with Wikipedia for a basic overview on a given topic. Even dictionaries are available for free or a small paid subscription online. I also recently picked up a copy of a Steampunk book, out on the cheap at the local book store to use as research for the Ravagers story (was previously titled The Never Ending Pilgrimage), which I am rewriting for a submission. The story is going through an extensive rewrite to change from a future setting to a Steampunk one and has been an excellent resource. The short was around 1,700 words and is now nearing the 3,000 mark with more to come, expanding to a novelette/novella length.

So what resources in your collection have you found to be invaluable?