Notes From The Holding Pattern


Fuck 2020.

Actually, if I’m being honest, it was a nothing year, a hollow year. No-one close to me got terribly ill, no-one’s in dire circumstances. Finances are healthy. The kids are doing fine. Everything is on track – but it’s all been a dull grind of worry and mere survival. A slow and boring disaster, at least here. You talk to friends you haven’t spoken to in months – haven’t seen in person in a year – and no-one has any news, because no-one can have any news. The only news is numbers – infection numbers, hospitalisation numbers, r-values, lockdown levels, distance-from-home limits. Electoral college percentages, Georgia opinion polls. And now, mercifully, vaccine percentage effectiveness, vaccination schedule estimates. Better numbers, but still…

It’s all fine.

Work-wise, I always knew it was going to be a bit of a down year, as I switched to doing more child-care – but I assumed there’d be the option of the occasional trip to a relative’s house or a soft play to break the routine, and the pandemic ate all that. I’ve had less time to work than I planned, and squandered way too much of that on doomscrolling. Still, I’m happy to have not dropped the ball on anything, even though I should have gotten a lot more done. The Broken God is done (out May ’21), I wrote a bunch of stuff for Black Library, stayed more-or-less on top of Pelgrane, got a chunk of Moria v2 done, and a few other unannounced projects. Next year – more unannounced projects loom.

The Shadow Saint came out in January. I’m very proud of the book, although sales haven’t been as good as hoped. Book sales in general were up, so it may be down to timing of the release – I know I abandoned everything I was reading in mid-March and fled back to comfort reads, because I didn’t have the brain for new stuff.


Next year, though – next year’s going to be better. Now, we know next year isn’t going to start until April or so at the earliest, right? I mean, The Broken God‘s basically coming out at the start of next year, because May’s when the weather’s better and the numbers will be (I hope) better and everything won’t be just fine any more.

I miss game conventions. I miss friends. We still have both those things, but they live in my computer with the word docs and the twitter doomscroll, and it feels like we’re all sucking at life through a very thin straw right now. Better than the alternative.

I remain very fond of this poem by the great John M. Ford.

The worm drives helically through the wood

And does not know the dust left in the bore

Once made the table integral and good;

And suddenly the crystal hits the floor.

Electrons find their paths in subtle ways,

A massless eddy in a trail of smoke;

The names of lovers, light of other days

Perhaps you will not miss them. That’s the joke.

The universe winds down. That’s how it’s made.

But memory is everything to lose;

Although some of the colors have to fade,

Do not believe you’ll get the chance to choose.

Regret, by definition, comes too late;

Say what you mean. Bear witness. Iterate.

Iterate into the New Year, friends.

2 thoughts on “Notes From The Holding Pattern

  1. 2020 was a chaotic year to say the least. “The Shadow Saint” was an excellent book. Yet, I want to repeat what I’ve said about this year: dark fantasy and grimdark will be the next popular reads within the speculative fiction genre. Everyone is afraid to read science fiction and dystopia books due to the themes and the plots that were emulated throughout the year. That being said, it wouldn’t surprise me if some of your plot points from your books “appear” in our “reality.”


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