There are a few times in our lives that none of us can understand. This entire year has been one of those times. In this short span of 12 months I have traveled to Asia and taught little kids the Punic War, wrestled with the philosophy of Plato and Hobbes, written a few thousand words on the nature of history, had so many drunken stupors and fun forgotten nights, and, really, a lot of it just still isn’t understood by me. A week ago I was stood in the middle of Selwyn College, Cambridge, in a black bow tie with the cold all around. The leaves were glazed over with frost and the night was turning into stupid, and yet there I stood. A few hundred miles away from home. Half-drunk, with projections of snow flakes and a whole circus of students milling around me. There are times when you have to pause, to re-collect, and this was one of them. Only three letters came to mind. My entire year can be summed up in one giant W-T-F.
I have to confess I’ve been lax with updating Blogossus because I’ve not had much to yarn about. This is the first year since launching my writing nonsense without me actually publishing a book or putting something substantial online. It hasn’t been that I’ve been lazy, I have at times, but I’ve been so ‘busy’, and the word ‘busy’ fails to account for the amount of stuff I’ve had to deal with over the last year.
I have written a few things and experimented a lot with my writing. I’ve finished three plays this year, big substantial pieces, and attempted chapters of novels which, in the end, were either not to my standard or false shots in the dark. Stuff that just wasn’t fruitful. I attempted to write a sequel to Trimalchio, but that went nowhere. I tried TRAIN for the twelfth time but still cannot crack the story. I even wrote half of TEARS IN RAIN 2 but just couldn’t bring myself to finish it. The big bulk of my writing time has been spent on my plays, and I’m hopeful about putting a few of mine into performance in the Cambridge area in 2015. Alongside all of this I did review Doctor Who series 8 for a university paper, and also ran the paper of my college too. I’ve been a busy bee in the writing world. It’s a shame a lot of my pitches and secret projects didn’t work out but that’s fine.
See, this is where things get weird, when I start talking about everything else, and especially my academic life. Basically, studying the past is just so odd. You’re speculating about dead people and you’re supposed to say something profound and ultimately judge these events, but really all you’re doing is stringing together an agenda using pieces of a puzzle which are largely fictional. So much we know about the past comes from either over-romanticized figures or from the complete dark. Sources can be forged, people can lie, and we can never get inside the minds of the kings and presidents of past. There exists no history, only the ‘truthful’ fiction that we create. In that sense it is a noble endeavor to really understand the past, to really understand and get under the fingernails of what makes humanity tick and tock and destroy. This year I’ve dealt with Napoleon, the industrial revolution, the musings of Plato and Machiavelli, 12th century English monasteries, the Black Death, the political thought of theocracy and a host of many other topics. It has been an incredible experience, albeit a bipolar one. The whole ‘Cambridge’ thing bottles entire centuries into 8-week bursts of weekly essays and I can’t help but feel that, while I’m thrown into the deep end, I’m still very much in the shallow waters of history. Once in a while a topic will just strike lightning with my heart and mind, and it might change my thinking on the whole of history. Population growth in the 14th century, Hobbes, and some others did that. It’s been a real highlight of my life to intellectual engage on this scale, and I hope I’ll continue to do pretty well as I go on. I’ll hopefully be in America this Summer doing actual hands-on archival research and some other sexy stuff too. I really do love history and I have grown happier with my decision to do my degree not out of employability but out of daft love for the past.
Which is where we come to everything else, really. The whole ‘personal’ thing. See, I’m finding it hard to call 2014 a ‘best year’ or even a good one. To get completely real with you: I lost my grandfather, I had a stir of depression, I turned 20 in a foreign country in the midst of existentialist dread, I’ve had nights where I’ve just had nervous breakdowns and the black dog of sadness has kept sigil for a lot of this year. When I left for Nepal in the Summer, which was just an incredible experience really in retrospect, I had a really soggy heart. A real hurt inside of me, and I knew that I was being bit again by ‘it’. That existentialist dread, that ringing bell of depression. If you’ve read this blog you know I’ve dealt with these sorts of things before. Nepal changed me, and I am stronger now. I am happier now. I realize I owe it to my friends and family to be a happy person. To find love, to write, to travel, to seek and never surrender. At the end of this year I have realized 2014 on paper was really shitty personally, but in practice it was the most important year of my life. I haven’t ‘grown’ as a person, perhaps I’ve solidified, but I’ve experienced the variety of life. Stress, depression, anxiety, crushing isolation, loneliness and, yes, profound happiness and joy, success and triumph. All I can say is that on this day, at the end of this wonderfully Kafkaesque dream-night-mare of a year, I am a better person. I am happy. I am not alone.
That has been my year, and I felt obliged to share it with you. If you’ve had a crushing 2014 then you should know that every year is different, but so is every day. At some point in my Nepal travels, after both my friends and kids had commented how “miserable” I looked, I was stood on some hillside. Blistering heat and without a shave in sixty days. I was stood there, thousands of miles away from home. With a heart full of worry and a mind full of demons. I stood looking at this beautiful country, full of grass and goats and smiling orphans, who did all their homework and loved being taught about the Romans and loved school and loved life despite circumstance. I looked around and realized, in the midst of it all, that there is happiness in every small slither of this world. Sometimes it’s harder to find, and sometimes we stop ourselves from finding it but we shouldn’t. Because it’s just right there. Waiting, always.
Phew. Okay enough of being profound. I am really REALLY looking forward to 2015. I’m going to murder it. Let’s have a looksie though at my new years resolutions for 2014:
Write ‘THE HEISENBERG LEGACY – VOLUME ONE’ (working title)
I need to stop over-promising. Yeah I wrote some few thousand words on Breaking Bad but it didn’t really go anywhere.
Write ‘Furnished Souls’
Write a play. Or two. Or three.
I did finish three plays, hoping to put them on performance in 2015.
Maybe get into shape a bit
I did actually get into squash and tennis.
Do a secret thing!
It didn’t come to fruition.
Write that other secret thing…
Neither did this…
And that other… OTHER… secret thing…
Get paid for writing something
This looks disappointing on paper. I’m 20 years old without a paid credit to my name. Somehow, though, I’m still optimistic about the future. I will continue to pitch and pander. There must be something.
Keep on track with studies and social life
Uh. Ups and downs. But, overall, yeah, not bad.
And so, let me talk about my New Years Resolutions for 2015:
– Put a play on performance
I hope that at least one of the plays I’ve written is put on stage, probably in Cambridge.
– Get a 2.1 in exams
This is a big goal for me. There is no way in hell I’m attaining a First but I’d be more than happy with this mark.
– Write a substantial ‘thing’ to put on Blogossus
Probably Tears In Rain 2 but I have other things in mind.
– Get a paid writing gig
There is one in sight.
– Update Blogossus more… regularly.
After February I have a lot less to commit to so this shouldn’t be too hard.
– Travel a bit
America? Ireland? Scotland? Wales? Few places on my list.
– Stay happy
Oh and uh um. TV wise? I enjoyed True Detective, House of Cards, Masters of Sex, Doctor Who (for the first time in YEARS), Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Review, Hannibal, Community, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Key & Peele, Game of Thrones and probably some other shows I can’t remember. Did Sherlock come back this year? Can’t remember.
Movie-wise. Interstellar, 12 Years A Slave, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America 2, The Lego Movie, Chef, The Imitation Game and probably a load of others I can’t recall. Her is the best thing I’ve seen this year and maybe since Children of Men.
Game-wise. Um. Uh. Right. Yeah. I played through Telltale’s Wolf Among Us and Walking Dead S2. Both were fantastic, Wolf being a stellar noir experience. I played quite a lot of Counter Strike: GO and Team Fortress 2. In full, though, this will be a year I will have to ‘catch up’ on.
Books? I finally got through A Song of Ice and Fire, which was just barnstormingly brilliant. I finally finished HP Lovecraft which was hngh. I read HA! by Scott Weems explaining the science of laughter and it was actually quite hilarious. Marvel Comics: The Untold Story by Sean Howe was great. I re-visited Stoppard and David Hare too. Reza Aslan’s Zealot was pretty good. Otherwise I’ve been reading a whole lot of boring history books, none of which I’d recommend really. Mark Updegrove’s Indomitable Will, on Lyndon Johnson’s presidency, was sheer brilliance though.
Music? Royksopp’s The Inevitable End, Bow to Each Other’s The Urge Drums, Weird Al’s Mandatory Fun, Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s Wanderlust, She & Him’s Classics, Kaja Gunnufsen’s Faen Kaja… actually he’s my top 100 songs of the year
Here’s to 2015. I’m really looking forward to what I can do with this year. In writing, in my personal life and everything else. I hope it is excellent for you too.