My 2016 – Writing

This calendar year has been one of major transition in terms of my writing exploits. Whereas in previous years I have had a basic agenda which has followed very consistent, unchanging structures, 2016 has seen me embrace new styles; explore new avenues; sample new media, and handle a parting of ways.

I had decided late in 2015 that I would finish my regular contribution to A Different League after three years of dedicated and indefatigable service, in order to have more time to myself, and focus on other writing pursuits. It was a choice which hadn’t been taken lightly, but one that I was sure would benefit me in the long run.

I owe that website an incredible amount. They gave me my first opportunity to write for an online audience about one of my greatest areas of expertise and bestowed all kinds of responsibilities upon me regardless of my previous lack of experience. Within months I was writing various different articles, and was even able to upload them using its Content Management System.

Then came the route into magazine writing and eventually the greater creative freedom afforded by the migration to a Fanatix-powered web host in May 2015. It was through this where I truly developed my skills and became the expressive writer I am now, and as such the standard of what I was producing increased immeasurably.

I had always gone the extra mile for the site since beginning in May 2013, but I decided to take things an extra step further for my final flourish, completing preview articles for all 380 Premier League matches during the 2015-16 season – which amounted to a minimum of 6,000 words per week.

Then I took on the responsibility of writing a whole batch of season review pieces, singly doing work which would ordinarily be done by a team of four. I then took sole ownership of A Different League’s Euro 2016 coverage, writing 29 articles of at least 500 words throughout its month-long duration.

In my humble opinion, the quality of those articles are incredible when compared to the material I was producing when I started out. When I left A Different League it was with many good wishes, positive feedback, and a sense that it was mission accomplished.

Despite this particular separation, I remain a contributor to the Soccer 360 magazine, a publication whose production values never cease to amaze. The articles I have been assigned this year have occasionally sent me away from my comfort zone and I often wonder whether I’m as good as my fellow writers, but seeing the finished product is always extremely reassuring, while it serves as a massive degree of vindication for the work I produce.

I look forward to hopefully contributing to Soccer 360 for many years to come, but it is now just one of many writing ventures I’m working on. My main one is a book about football, where I take on the role of modern historian and look back on a five-year period just past the turn of the century with the help of childhood memories. It has become a forensically detailed account of events, with no shortage of personal touches. Now over 50,000 words long and counting, I expect for it to be completed by March or April 2017.

Although exceptionally happy with what I have written thus far, I am still mindful of the fact that I need to find a clearer definition of its purpose, and whether or not the sheer detail I have incorporated into the book will appeal to a wider audience. Those who prefer to see short snippets of information will be sorely disappointed.

And of course there is this blog. The blog that I began back in February, then gave up on, and later decided to return to with open arms. I may never master the art of running a successful blog, with regards to the number of page views, likes or comments it receives, but it provides an ideal platform to document my many musings, pointless or otherwise.

Returning to this blog reminded me of the need for freedom. Back in September I tried to give myself a new online identity called Everyday Literature, where I was required to become a literary expert almost overnight. Lessons were quickly learned and the project was soon shelved, so in this way, 2016 has taught me to show a greater appreciation of what I’ve already got, and what I’ve already achieved,

My 2016 – Films

Never before have I watched so many movies in a year than in 2016. It came to be a personal resolution that I made up for lost time and took in many of the quality motion pictures that I had missed over the years, and on the whole it has been a fruitful journey.

Visits to the cinema have been infrequent. Seeing The Revenant was almost a new sensory experience, given the freedom to appreciate and acknowledge the incredible filmmaking feats that it pulls off, from the constantly stunning visuals to the directorial mastery of Alejandro G. Inarritu to the remarkable realism of the CGI.

That film earned Leonardo DiCaprio his long awaited first Academy Award for Best Actor, but the overall execution of the project is where it succeeds the most. I was also lucky enough to see the Best Picture winner itself, Spotlight. This one falls under an entirely different genre, but its equally compelling and thought-provoking and provides a sensitive account of real-life events.

My most recent rendezvous with the big screen was for Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, a movie which I had been looking forward to for so long with a mixture of childlike excitement and apprehension. Any fears that it wouldn’t live up to its billing were soon extinguished, as it considerably surpassed my expectations; my face when the credits began to roll was an absolute picture of mesmeric delight.

The special effects on display on that film were beyond anything that I had previously seen, a huge treasure trove of eye-catching imagery. The story was also not to be found wanting, and the anticipation for sequels has already begun.

As with any piece of new technology or any craze that seems to capture the attention of most of my peers or indeed the global population, I was slow on the uptake when it came to using online streaming websites such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. I put this right by accident, getting Amazon Prime unexpectedly after forgetting that I had signed up to the 30-day free trial which then leads to you making an automatic £79 payment to get the application on a permanent basis.

Through Amazon Prime I have managed to discover films which I hadn’t previously come across, such as the truly incredible adaptation of The Book Thief, a movie I would recommend to everyone. I have also had the opportunity to sample films which I didn’t watch at the time of their release.

Among those are the stunningly picturesque Gravity, the engrossing and very English drama  An Education, a brilliant dual acting performance from Matthew McConnaughy and Jared Leto in Dallas Buyer’s Club, and an interesting take on an oft-adapted character where Ian McKellan portrays Mr Holmes.

Over the course of this year I have also gained a much greater understanding of the many processes that go into filmmaking and how each scene is constructed and shot in order to create the finished product. It all amounts to an intriguing array of complexities which are not necessarily appreciated by us viewers.

So for that reason among others this year has been something of a learning experience and has helped me develop a new perspective on film. But all that said, I still remain very selective about the films I watch – they must be intelligent, multi-layered, suspenseful or capable of telling a good story with a clear underlying message.

Here’s to more in 2017!