Some thoughts on last year
2014 was, above all, the year in which I worked hard to become a hybrid writer; someone who spends his or her time writing fiction while developing various writing and reading technologies, and doing other interesting related projects.
I decided early on that this would be impossible without raising funding, which I discovered takes perseverance and flexibility. Three grant requests were denied over the year, but in the end it all came together, as I got a Creative Industries Fund NL grant in December. Which cleared the way to really getting started on the hybrid writer’s project. I’d hoped to be able to do this in 2014, but ultimately, the year was mostly about preparing for 2015. I’m looking forward to delivering some tangible hybrid writer’s stuff soon…
I didn’t only prepare though:
- I published three articles in the spirit of the project: Mijn schoonvader heeft mijn boek gejat, Geweldig, verschrikkelijk en heel erg leerzaam – 10 lessen uit de Verdwijners-leestest and Hybrid Writer’s Report #1.
- I recorded and edited eight podcast interviews with fellow novelists.
- I helped select digital literary projects for Literatuur op het Scherm and closed off the program with a spoken column when it was presented at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.
The two NRC newspapers were my most steady source of income over the year. I submitted a grand total of 137 articles to nrc.next and NRC Handelsblad, including a lot of short reviews, and including a bunch of other people’s articles which I edited. Some of my favorites in chronological order:
- Met Sony’s virtual reality-helm naar diepzee of Mars, with which I was one of the first journalists in the world, and certainly the first in The Netherlands, to publish a hands-on report of Sony’s Project Morpheus.
- Angelina krijgt steeds meer vrijheid van haar baas, about Stanislaw Lem, Michael Cook, creativity and artificial intelligence.
- Mario’s meesterlijke momentum, about Mario Kart 8, ways to drive fast, and Steve Swink’s notion of ‘game feel’.
- Een droom van een spel, about No Man’s Sky and looking forward to games.
- Zonder de Xbox One was de gamewereld beter af geweest, my somewhat harsh review of Xbox One. Which I still stand by, although I’m less angry now.
- De oorlog van overmorgen, my review of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, a serious game about playful warfare.
My writing for the papers seems to be headed more towards game reviews, which I’m fine with. Games criticism with a cultural angle for a mainstream audience is still rare in The Netherlands, and I’m certainly not done developing myself in this area.
I also did some freelance writing for Bright, KIJK and Official PlayStation Magazine. OPM will be a little less in 2015, while KIJK will likely grow.
I took on two major consultancy projects, one for RIVM (the National Institute for Public Health) and one for NOS op 3, the latter of which I haven’t actually been able to finish yet.
I worked on Two Tribes’ upcoming robot hacking shooter RIVE; my work on this will increase next year, and perhaps I’ll also be able to put out one or two personal games (please don’t expect much of this).
Finally, I traveled to Helsinki and San Francisco (and the Bay Area) with David Nieborg, and to London with Collin van Ginkel.
I didn’t miss a single week of weeknotes, which is still my favorite way of looking back and planning ahead (en plein public, on a weekly basis). In these most-read installments a clear pattern emerges, bad news sells:
- Week 827, in which I report on my diabetes diagnosis.
- Week 809, in which I report on a grant denial.
- Week 796, in which I report on another grant denial.
- Week 831, a diabetes update.
- Week 803, in which there isn’t any bad news for a change. I do mention a (still unpublished) sex story, though.
These were the most popular ‘current’ pages/articles on this site:
- Gestommel, gegil, een snerpende tandartsboor…, my article about escape rooms, which was the most-read article by a wide margin. People are still finding it through Google on a daily basis.
- Toiletten, mostly because of the iPad app, which was downloaded more often in 2014 than in 2013 when it came out.
- Geweldig, verschrikkelijk en heel erg leerzaam – 10 lessen uit de Verdwijners-leestest, in which I presented my read test findings.
- De verdwijners, largely because the e-book dropped to € 9,99 this year.
- Hybrid Writer’s Report #1
These were the most popular articles that weren’t actually published in 2014:
- My Pikmin 3 interview with Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto (2013)
- My interview with Jade Raymond (2008!)
- My interview with Spelunky’s Derek Yu (2013)
- This is why I’ve pulled the plug on my games blog Bashers.nl (2012)
- Games worden literairder – Van Device 6 tot The Stanley Parable (2013)
I saw 85 movies this year (or 86, depending on what happens tonight), of which I liked six enough to award them five stars: The Wolf of Wall Street, Her, Noah, The Wind Rises, Boyhood and Guardians of the Galaxy. If someone forced me to make a top five, I’d probably drop Boyhood, and put Noah at the top, to go against the grain (and express my love for that film).
I read 20 books, of which I most liked Mount Terminus by David Grand in the fiction department (which I wrote about in Anders kijken en denken) and How Star Wars Conquered The Universe by Chris Taylor in the non-fiction department (which I wrote about in Er is weer hoop voor Star Wars).
I hardly listened to any new music, although I’m checking out a bunch of music journalist’s favourites as I type this. Of what I did hear, I liked Alt-J’s second album best. (I hope to read more books and listen to more new music next year.)
I didn’t keep track of how many games I played, but I gave Mario Kart 8, Threes and Super Time Force five balls in nrc.next. Looking back, that’s a pretty accurate representation of what I liked most, although I didn’t return to Super Time Force after writing my review, unlike the other two (which I rarely do, though). My favorite game of 2013 that I discovered in 2014 is Michael Brough’s 868-HACK.
Of the two or three stage plays I saw this year, I liked The Fountainhead by Toneelgroep Amsterdam the most, by far.
For 2015 I’m looking forward to, among other things, the Inherent Vice movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the new Houellebecq book, the new Craig Thompson book, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and the new Zelda (although I’d be surprised if that actually came out in 2015).
Highlights in my personal life: my daughters growing a year older, smarter and more beautiful, going camping on the isle of Terschelling for two weeks (our first real vacation as a family) and, weirdly, discovering that I’m chronically ill. This was the year in which I found out I have type 2 diabetes, and although that’s pretty shitty in general, it was nice to be able to experience our excellent healthcare system first hand, and to be taken care of by family and friends. Ultimately it feels like getting acquainted with a part of myself that I didn’t know very well so far; like I’m now better prepared for the rest of my life.