On 2018

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The annual tradition! Fourth time I’ve done one of these year-in-review pieces now, and I don’t think I’d ever have really imagined writing this 2018 piece back in 2015. (Not because I didn’t know the order of the years, but, well, you know.) So it’s neat to think I’ve made a least a little nominal progress.

Right, so, 2018. What did I get up to?

Let’s lead, as I did last go around, with my favourite interviews of the year – I actually did these in January, or thereabouts, so they’re as good a choice as any to start a reflection on 2018.

Even if it weren’t for their particular significance, I’d be very pleased with these interviews – certainly, I think among my work they’re in the top tier, with a genuine level of substantive engagement in the questions, a nice level of introspection about the programme, so on and so forth. These interviews in particular, though, are made all the more notable by the fact that they were the first – and actually still only – interviews I’ve ever done in person! That was slightly terrifying, actually, but a lot of fun in the end, and I’m extremely glad that first in-person interview experience was with a group of people who were so attentive and so committed to talking about their work.

In terms of broader writing, there are maybe fewer pieces I’d highlight than I previously would’ve – not because I didn’t write lots of things I’m terribly proud of (I’m proud of them all in their way, even the rubbish ones), but just because I’m trying to be a little bit more exacting in these things. Higher standards, year on year. Hopefully, I’ll still be able to meet them.

My best three of the year, in any case, I think were all pieces for Yahoo (though I think that’s historically always been the case):

They’re not articles about my favourite shows of the year (though A Very English Scandal did make the list) – no, I just think these are the best pieces of work I’ve actually done, in some cases in terms of the actual literal prose, and in others in terms of actually having a good point to argue. (At some stage during the year, I read some writing advice to the effect of “it’s not enough to have an opinion, you have to have a point” – I don’t know how often I was falling foul of that beforehand, but since reading it it’s something I’m a little more aware of.)

Particularly, I suppose, that’s the case with the A Very English Scandal and Genius: Picasso pieces, where I think I’ve got articulated an interpretation of each that no one else did (or at least an interpretation I didn’t see anyone else offer). A few other articles could make the cut – off the top of my head, some others I was very pleased with include this on The Good Fight, this on House and The Good Doctor.

I’m glad, in any case, to have written some articles for Yahoo that I’m genuinely really pleased with, and I think should stand the test of time; my regular contributions there have come to an end, after three great years, and I’m glad to have gone out on something of a high. Well, I say that; in a move I find hilarious in hindsight, I wrote a deeply self-indulgent and mostly awful article about endings, a thinly veiled reference to my own departure. About three weeks later, I returned with the above article about Killing Eve, so it clearly wasn’t that definitive an ending! Still, though, given this is probably going to be the last time in a while I get a chance to talk about Yahoo, I do just want to mention quite how much I benefitted from that position; all this writing stuff has grown into something I never really believed it would, or indeed conceived that it could, and that’s entirely down to Yahoo.

In terms of my own blog, I’ve tried to put a bit more focus on getting some articles on there that I liked. It’s still a work in progress; it’s important to me to try and have ‘exclusive’ content on here, for lack of a better term, so that’s something I’m gonna try and make work again across 2019. (I feel like I’ve said this every year now.) Still, though, there were a couple of good pieces I put onto this blog across 2018 – the most obvious, I think, is when I attempted to engage with Sacha Baron Cohen’s Who is America? and ultimately found it lacking.

Of course, it’d be remiss of me not to link back to Five Years On, the other big reflective piece I did this year. Because 2018 wasn’t just any year, but the fifth year I’ve been doing this nonsense in a row. Still strange to think about that. Not sure I have a lot more to add since the actual anniversary itself; the same thanks still apply – all of them, even to you – and I think they always will. I’m glad I got to five years, anyway. I really hope I make it to ten, in some shape or form.

So, 2018. Let’s try and draw this to a close and properly square it all away. It was… an odd year, broken up into two halves (well, two thirds and another third, I guess) in more ways than one. Again, I’m coming up against my own reluctance to talk much about my actual real life here; most of what defined the year went on around and outside the blog, as you’d expect, but I think spilled into it in a lot of key ways. Ways that’d be obvious from the outside, but not so much the inside. For what it’s worth, though, I think for all the associated nonsense that’s come of certain big choices, I’d probably still make them again.

(Certain big choices, but not all of them. I wouldn’t do that again, good grief.)

Right. That’s about that then. I used to like to set myself some targets for the next year, but I think I’ll opt against that this year.

Better to work it out as I go along.

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