Monthnotes: November 2023

November felt like a slog, mostly due to very poor sleep. It took me a while to get used to the clocks going back, and I also felt like I had too much on. But the big news is that I finally released my new short story collection, Memetic Infections Hazards, which is now available on etsy. More about that below.

I had some good outings this month. I made a dawn hike over to Howarth to join a Wednesday Writers workshop. I also attended a workshop with Naomi Booth, who I knew from Sussex. Sophie came to visit with her new baby Rudyard, and Dan S came over to work on the Mycelium Parish News zine. I also saw Joelle Taylor perform in Todmorden, with a stunning performance from her book C+nto. The Thought Bubble comics convention in Harrogate was fun; although I didn’t spend too long there, I met some lovely people and bought some interesting things to read. At the end of the month was a night out in Manchester for the launch of David Bowie, Enid Blyton and the Sun Machine, where I got to meet some old friends.

November was a big month with my writing, as I finally managed to print up some copies of Memetic Infection Hazards. This has been ready for months, but I was very slow to do the final stages – my main problem with writing is getting things into the world. The cover and text of this were complete in July. This is now available on etsy.

I’ve been slightly faster with the Mycelium Parish News, which I’ve been working on with Dan Sumption. Pulling the text together has been tough. My lesson for next time is to compile it over the year, rather than having to pull together scrappy notes before the deadline. That should be available to buy early next week. Meanwhile I have continued writing pieces for the substack, and I am particularly proud of Distant Voices, which is probably the best thing I’ve written this year.

I cut down my daily steps to focus on eating better, which worked for a couple of weeks then fell apart. My total steps were 257,187, a decent proportion of the previous month’s 289,759. My average was 8573, and the highest was 21,666 when I hiked to Howarth. I’m going to keep the low step count for December and repeat my efforts to improve my diet. I’ve been doing better with my physio and maybe I’ll be good to start the couch to 5k once the weather gets better.

Liverpool from the ferry while on the Krossing

I watched 14 films, all reviewed on my letterbox diary. Foe was enjoyable, a suggestion from Jude, where I went to the cinema knowing nothing about what was coming. John Wick IV was beautifully-made nonsense. Talk to Me was a wonderful horror movie, which played with the tropes enough to remain interesting. I watched Dream Scenario in Harrogate’s Everyman cinema, which was ridiculously plush. My favourite movie of the month was Spike Lee’s 25 Hour. I must watch all the Spike Lee films I’ve missed!

I also watched a little TV. Marianne was great and Netflix’s failure to renew this for a second season is a tragedy. Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is going pretty well. The family drama is entertaining enough to fill in the time between monsters, and the kaiju are getting more interesting as the show continues. There was also a new episode of Dr Who, and it’s a relief to have the show being done properly again. I’m looking forward to Ncuti Gatwa taking over as the Doctor.

I am still struggling to focus on books, and have had a bit of an amnesty on unfinished books. However, when I set out to read John Darnielle’s novel Wolf in White Van, I finished it in a couple of days. I also finished Jay Owens’ book Dust. While this was non-fiction, it evoked the same emotions as cosmic horror.

While November was tough, I’ve mostly been enjoying work, and just passed my one-year anniversary. I’m both excited and terrified about how generative AI is about to change my job beyond all recognition, something I wrote about in my blog.

The People’s Pyramid (my future home)
  • Progress on fixing up the house is very slow, but I made a little. I now have vinyl flooring in the bathroom. This involved some DIY on my part, as I had to lift a door, but I am very happy with the results.
  • While I’ve done a lot of train travel in the last month, much of it has been blighted by cancellations. As public infrastructure collapses, the government seems more interested in picking culture war fights about the Parthenon Marbles as a distraction.
  • I grew a moustache for November. I removed it on the first day of December.
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