Hi. It’s been some time.

Before you get bored listening to everything I have to say, I’ve published another downloadable composing portfolio, All the Things We’ll Do.

It contains all my successful compositions from 2017 and one more from this year. Three Thrive themes are included – Plain Sailing (the Thrive Plains Theme), The Swamp Stomp (the Thrive Swamp Theme) and one hidden track from long ago many will be happy to see acknowledged.

You’ll notice this “album” isn’t free. Consider this an experiment in seeing whether I can actually sell any music by charging a small amount. All the tracks can be bought individually for 50p each, except the Thrive themes which are free, in keeping with the freeware approach the project takes. Pearl Socks, which features vocal stylings by my friend Nathaniel, was included here with his consent, since he is technically a collaborating artist and I had to make sure he didn’t want a share himself. Not that there’s likely to be much of a share. I can’t really see this subsidising my university fees.

Speaking of university, I’m currently writing this blog post in a fit of revision procrastination. I’m studying maths if anybody was interested.

The idea to publish a second portfolio has been spinning in my mind for some time, but the push to do it came with my recent publication of a track called Prolepsis, itself a product of much time and thought, also completed in lieu of statistics revision. Not only do I consider it one of my most technically advanced tracks to date, but it gives the impression of an album opener, a musical introduction defining an aesthetic for the listener to ease themselves into.

So I’m going to set myself a challenge: by the end of this year, I want to have created a proper album. Not some clumsy mish-mash of projects varying in genre and quality, but a connected experience at the highest technical level I can achieve. Is this possible? I want to find out. Prolepsis is a literary technique meaning foreshadowing, so it would be fitting if this episode resulted in something big.

While you’re perusing my latest portfolio, remember that its predecessor Nocturne Andromeda is still there. It’s also free, but now you can pay what you want for it. Why was this not the case before? Erm, quite simply, I wasn’t old enough for a Paypal account. So yeah, buy that too if you’re in the mood for supporting my composing efforts.

Meanwhile, things in the literary world are moving. I regret to inform you that Operation Green Canary is, for the moment, dead. Plans to write a second draft kind of fell through. I still like the story, characters and the odd bit of its prose so I won’t write it off completely, though for the foreseeable future Anton Salvage (and the other Anton Salvage) will remain a figment of only my imagination.

But that did free up time and motivation to write something else instead. Currently this still-unnamed novel runs to 34,000 words, most of them pretty good. I’ve entered the exciting final act so once exams are over I’m hoping I’ll have the drive to wrap it up pretty quickly.

What’s this novel about, you ask? I give you my elevator pitch:

Imagine we’re having a conversation. It could be this one.

We’re talking about something trivial. The weather perhaps, or plans for the weekend, or my ridiculous yet incorruptible desire to become a writer.

Your phone vibrates. You excuse yourself to see what it is. It’s a breaking news notification. Colour drains from your skin as you reevaluate the life of yourself and everyone else on this planet in a single instant. A sudden change to reality. A broken silence.

I ask you what’s up. You tell me to check the news myself. This is what I am confronted with:

What the hell happens next?

This is a novel about first contact with aliens. Yes, a lot of the inspiration comes fromĀ Contact andĀ Arrival, but the motivation for writing this story came from a much more frightening prospect than interplanetary annihilation: Brexit.

The day after the Brexit vote was surreal. I remember walking around college and every snippet of conversation I heard was Brexit this or Brexit that. We were unified, maybe not in our opinion of events, but at least in knowing we were witnessing history. Everything was uncertain. I made the same hyperbolic defeatist joke about the successive secession of Scotland, Wales and Cornwall three times with three different groups of people and got several laughs each time, because it was that sort of day. Reality turned on its head – the UK was leaving the EU, pigs were flying, I was funny.

I knew immediately I wanted to capture that sense of muted panic in my own way. Out of that intention grew the idea of writing about the day we discover we aren’t alone, because what could be more monumental yet uncertain than that? I consider it a thought experiment. Writing the world’s extrapolated reactions to the event has been fun indeed.

Funnily enough, last week I got the chance to test my predictions when a false missile alarm in Hawaii led to mass hysteria. And you know what, they were pretty damn accurate. Most of what I saw I had already touched on in the novel – initial silent horror, then outbursts of panic, then as the shock wears off opinions splinter, both sides politicising the event from their own twisted perspectives, everyone using dark humour, and most intriguing of all, multiple conspiracy theories hinging on the same inconsistency in the official story yet taking their deductions in wild and opposing directions. It was astonishing to read the reactions, and I’ll be adapting a few witnesses’ stories to fit the novel.

Expect to see more news about this still nameless pile of words and the named but non-existent album Prolepsis later this year.

Thanks for reading this rundown of all the things I’ll do. See you next time.