I really wish that was a pun and this post was about all the reviews I did in 2014. Alas, as you all know, I’ve been a bit lacking on the review front this year. I’ve been sick as a dog and it’s limited my output in just about all areas of my life. There were no Serene Wombles this year, not just because I didn’t really review enough things, but because around the time of my blog’s birthday (3rd October) I was super extra sick and dealing with a bunch of Real Life shit from Hell. It’s really tempting to feel like I achieved nothing, but that’s not the case. Actually, a bunch of cool stuff happened this year, so I’m gonna focus on that.
At the end of 2013 I quit my job. 2014 saw me supporting myself as a freelance proofreader and copy editor for the first time. In January I set up a website and moved my blog hosting to rhube.co.uk and started looking for ways to make money without negatively affecting the experience of the site. I became an Amazon Associate. This was a massive waste of time and I made no money from it whatsoever. I also set up a tip jar (in the side-bar just over there—>) which a small number of you have been very kind to show your appreciation with 🙂 . In July, when I was well and truly screwed, you guys literally saved me with your tips and I am super grateful.
In February I launched my Proofread Along with Rhube series, which surprised me by being pretty popular. I started out with good intentions of posting something to the series every week. But. Well. You know how that went. Ill-health yadda yadda yadda. I also added a series on Inspiring Women for International Women’s Day, which seemed to go down well. And for International Poetry I did a reading from ‘Eve’s Apology’, by Aemelia Lanyer, first female poet to be published in the English language, and one of my inspiring women from Women’s Day. I received my first tip for this reading, and it’s still available to listen to either by visiting that page, or going direct to Sound Cloud.
19th April was SUPER EXCITING as Speculative Fiction 2012 was nominated for a Hugo! This is the book in which my blog post, ‘Remembering Margaret Cavendish‘, was published. I was excited because, well, ‘Hugo Nominated’, that’s something I’d seen on books since I was a teenager, and it had reached a kind of mythical status for me. Plus, I’ve become something of a one-woman Margaret Cavendish promoter since writing that. Margaret was an amazing woman who once wrote ‘All I desire is fame’, and we forgot her. Because her male contemporaries dismissed her as mad. I’m kind of massively about correctign that. You can read more about why I got super passionate about the whole thing here.
Of course, the nomination was for our awesome editors, Jared and Justin, but they very kindly told us contributers that they felt it was like each of us had a 50th of a Hugo nomination, and they even sent us amazing original artwork to commemorate it. IT WAS AWESOME.
In June, Speculative Fiction 2012 was nominated for the British Fantasy Society Award and I invited everyone to do the dance of excitement again. I also watched Maleficent, which was fantastic. If I’d done Serene Wombles this year, I would have been hard pressed to choose between Maleficent and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – both films blew my tiny mind and were so important for women in film.
Unfortunately, June was also the time I got the last of my work from my main client, as Angry Robot went into difficulty, closing Strange Chemistry and Exhibit A Books, and soon after ceasing to send out work for AR itself. I joined the ranks of people anxiously waiting to hear what was going on. The loss of Strange Chemistry was a real blow for so many people I know – so many amazing authors who entered a kind of limbo, waiting to see what would happen with their books and contracts. As a proofreader and copy editor I was always particularly pleased to receive Strange Chemistry books – the quality was so high! But alas, it’s a tough market for Young Adult at the moment – the market was saturated and although I really do believe that Strange Chemistry would have made it in the long run, Osprey were in difficulties more broadly and did not have the luxury of giving them time.
July was my first crisis point. I’d had a successful first half of the year, but with AR in limbo I was out about £1,000 and found myself unexpectedly with no money coming in. I made my first plea for you guys to show your love with money, and you were amazing. The money you sent covered my urgent bills and, with a little help from my mum, got me to the end of the month. At the time, I was expecting quite a bit of new business to come in in August, so I thought everything would be OK after that.
Alas, it was not to be. An unfortunate confluence of unrelated events meant that the business I was expecting for August evaporated. My health was also deteriorating and although I had a new diagnosis and was taking pills that would eventually help, it turns out it was a good three and a half months before I would feel the benefits (that’s just a couple of weeks ago, btw).
I went to Nine Worlds with anxiety in my belly and a need to drop and sleep pretty frequently, but also with a determination to have fun and two – two – Daenerys cosplays. I had a fantastic time, met a whole bunch of new and awesome people, and some people I’d known before online but never had the joy to meet.
And then, for the rest of August, I think I mostly slept. Slept, worried about money. Was too ill to do anything about it.
The beginning of September saw me in financial difficulty and having to ask for yet another extension of my PhD, due to the illness rampant. I applied for yet another extension and ask my parents for help with the money. Fortunately, the British Fantasy Society through me some proofreading work in exchange for paying for my ticket to Fantasy Con. I met more new people and was pleasantly surprised when SpecFic 2012 won the British Fantasy Award for Best Non-Fiction.
After that, I spent most of September trying to find new avenues of income. More work I was expecting to come in never materialised. I learnt that freelancing websites are full of people charging nothing for substandard work, making it next to impossible to win a bid. I got a small amount of work that way, including my first poetry proofreading, which was actually a lot of fun. Eventually I concluded it wasn’t worth the time, though.
In October, I had a month’s free gym membership, which a friend had won but didn’t need. I was too ill to make the use of it that I really wanted to, but it was a really nice gym, and I will totally be buying a membership if I ever become magically rich.
On 15th October I uploaded Existentialism and the Terminator. I’d written the paper earlier in the year for Nine Worlds, but didn’t make their final cut for the Academic track. It was a piece close to my heart and which I’d been promising to do a video on for years, so I thought what the hey? I also converted it to a podcast, which I uploaded in November.
Sticking with the apocalypse theme, I began a regular series of Music for the Apocalypse posts, breathing new life into a series that I had begun on the Girls’ Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse. These usually go live every Tuesday, but, uh, today you’re getting this instead.
On 1st December I made a post about Chairs in Space, which surprised me when someone linked to it from Gawker, earning it over 800 hits in a single day. A hit-record only topped when Io9 featured Existentialism and the Terminator. Views of the video went from 46 to over 5,000 over night, and the blog saw a bit over 800 hits that day as well. All of which is a win for me 🙂 Honestly, I put so much work and heart into that piece, I’m really thrilled that people actually liked it and it’s gotten some attention. Thanks to everyone who watched it or linked to it. I hope to do further work on other science-fiction/philosophy videos soon, but, you know, it’s a work/health/PhD thing.
The year is closing out with some more good news. My story, ‘The Runaway King’, was published in Missing Monarchs, which is totally a thing you can buy. And just a few days ago this blog topped 100,000 hits!
Thanks to everyone who’s stopped by here over the past year. I wish I could have made more and more interesting content for you, but I’m super thrilled you liked what was here as much as you did. Your support has been amazing and has made all the difference in a very tough time.
The coming year promises to be… weird. My physical health is improving, my mental health… has seen better days. My financial health is a hilarious hell ride. Final deadline for submitting my PhD is the end of May. After that it could be all change. I’m really hoping that that means more, and more amazing, things for this blog. There’s a lot I want to do, including an analysis of the Battlestar Galactica episode, ‘Bastille Day‘, in terms of Hegel’s master/slave dialectic, and The Matrix as an exploration of brain-in-a-vat scepticism.
You can help by donating. I have a £40 bill for my website coming up in January, and, to be honest, I need more web-space. Hosting the Existentialism and the Terminator podcast ate up a lot, and I want to host more podcasts in the future. Anything you can contribute would be welcome, but I totally get it if you can’t 🙂 Just coming here and sharing what you like means the world to me.
Be well. Live long, prosper. Long days and pleasant nights. 2013 was awful; 2014 wasn’t great, but actually a lot of cool shit happened. Let’s make 2015 AMAZING.