2018 Remembered

It’s close enough to the end of the year and I’m still on holiday break from work and writing, so it’s as good a time as any to reflect on the past year and look at my efforts, as well as all the other stuff that happened in general. It’s been a year of mixed blessings for sure.

Writing Activities:

Obviously the biggest news this year was making my first story sale. The Fairy Folk appears in the December issue of Andromeda Spaceways magazine, and I hope folks will go buy it. Unfortunately there’s no hard copy to hold in my hands, but I’ll print out the front cover and frame it for my wall. As I’m fond of saying, I’ve finally reached the ground floor of my ambitions and am searching for the elevator up.

After struggling with a novel that wasn’t working, I turned back to short stories this year sometime in April. I finished almost a dozen new shorts, plus a novella (and the first draft of another novella), and am pleased with that output. I hope to match it again this year.

Later in the summer I turned to a new novel idea and have completed the first rough draft of it. It’ll go through clean up and revision from January through April in preparation for a critique session with some of my friends from Viable Paradise. I’m looking forward to their thoughts and comments.

Between the novel and the short stories (and the aborted earlier novel), I laid down over 250,000 words this year. I estimate that I’m at or over 1,000,000 words since the first NaNoWriMo attempt (followed by a short break of a year or two) and the five years since I threw myself into writing sci-fi and fantasy in a big way. I hope to see another story published this year, further proof that I’m making progress. There’s so much luck and timing involved with that, though, that I can’t really make it a personal goal for 2019 (it’s always a goal in general).

I did not make it to any conferences this year. That was due primarily to our plan to visit with Jennifer’s family this summer which interfered with the schedule for Readercon, an event that many Viable Paradise alumni attend and which had been my primary target. But later in the year we dealt with multiple house issues, from rotting windows to a blown water heater, that drove up my credit card balance. We also are planning for Worldcon in Dublin next summer and trying to be frugal, so we skipped the rest of the year’s events to conserve funds.

I took one class through Cat Rambo’s school for wayward writers, and it was a blast. I hope to do more of these in the future, or at least pay for some of the offline classes. Our local chapter of the Maryland Writer’s Association seems to be forming and I’ll attend the meeting in January to see how things are going. Hell, I may even offer up myself as an officer if they need (but hopefully they won’t, because that seems like something close to work to me, and well… I’m lazy).

Personal:

The year started off sadly with the passing of my mother. That led to a long period of little writing productivity and almost no blogging. But it was mitigated by my estranged daughter reaching out to me earlier in January to spark the relationship we’d never had (my fault, not hers). It’s been great getting to know her over the course of this year and see what a wonderful, remarkable, intelligent, creative woman she’s become. She just turned 31, so happy birthday, Amanda! Maul around the World in 2019! If you use Instagram, follow her account, it’s full of awesome goodness.

I love seeing her posts. I don’t have an Instragram account myself, but it’s not needed to see someone’s postings. I avoid it under the same general principle that I avoid anything Facebook related: Facebook is fucking evil and doesn’t get my business. However, if you do have an Instagram account, give her a follow, I’m sure she’ll appreciate it.

The rest of the year went pretty smoothly until late summer. I landed a new position at work as a Software Licensing Analyst, moving away from computer repair and support for the first time in twenty years. We had a great summer vacation on the Outer Banks, with lots of sun and water, and visiting some cool sights while we were there. But when fall approached, our house decided to remind us it was really, completely, like fucking OLD. First a window rotted out, and we decided to replace a bunch of those that were of the same age and material. Then the water heater blew. Then a pipe sprang a leak. The washer died. The day before Thanksgiving, the refrigerator joined it in appliance purgatory. Another leak showed up. In the end, everything was repaired, much money was spent, and I even decided to replace the dishwasher we hadn’t been using for the few years we’ve lived here because it was leaking as well, but hopefully now we’ve sorted out our water issues, appliance issues, window issues, and can have a less expensive 2019. Love you, old house, we’re trying our best to keep you working right.

Everything Else:

The world is a mess, we can all agree on that. Around 30% of us think the solution is to elect more bloviating, social safety net destroying, racist politicians. And given the way our system is structured, they have control right now, so it’s been a bumpy ride. Hold on to your hats, folks, I don’t think 2019 will be any easier. And 2020 is likely to be a ginormous pile of festering guano, with another presidential election going into full swing. Damn, I hate those things. Why can’t our election cycles be a grand total of a few months, instead of two long years? Ugh.

Marvel has been kicking ass lately. While I’m disappointed they couldn’t come to new terms with Netflix to keep those series going (Daredevil was the bomb, and I loved Luke Cage and Jessica Jones; even the second season of Iron Fist was much improved), we have Captain Marvel and Avengers: End Game to look forward to in a few months. Then we’ll see what phase four brings us in terms of new Marvel movies. Another Spider-man movie after End Game, and then? Well, there’s a lot of movies listed through 2022, but few of them have any names attached or titles or characters mentioned. Surely another Black Panther film? Maybe Guardians of the Galaxy 3? Something entirely new, like a Black Widow solo film? Who knows. But it’s been a good time to be a comic book hero fan, that’s for sure. It’ll surely come to an end soon enough, but I’m loving it for now.

I believe I made one of my 2018 goals by reading at least 50 novels. I’m including audiobooks in that total. Lots of fantasy and science fiction, some historical dramas. I need more non-fiction this year I think. I’ll do a review of my most recent read soon, the historical drama Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara. I’d read some of his son’s books before, and of course had seen the movie Gettysburg which is based on this novel, but hadn’t read it before. Really engrossing book, too, and I had some interesting takeaways to share.

2019 Resolutions:

Wishy washy ones: Exercise more. Eat a smidge less.

Serious ones: complete 10 short stories and 1 novel (not including edits to current novel in progress).  Attend Dublin Worldcon. Get things lined up to attend graduate school in the fall (online Masters degree in Library Sciences is the goal).

So here’s to 2018. We put you in a rear view mirror as we do with every year gone by. You had your ups, your down, your crashing lows, but in the end you could have been far, far worse (the nuclear missiles are still in their bunkers, so at least you got that going for you).

Welcome 2019! Do better. Be best! Ahem…

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