Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Arbitrary Set of Stupid Days Together In Review


Writers, because we are all introspective and shit, like to write a "Best of" at the end of each year, detailing what we wrote, what we want to, and how 2012 is really the year we'll lose that "unnecessary exposition" around our collective waistlines.

But I have no Best Of, really. For the first time in for freaking ever, I had a real bust of a year for writing production.

Maybe it was the work situation. I started out the year working four part-time jobs, then I was hired on full-time at one of the jobs, and since it was a real career and all, I was a little keyed-up every time I got on the computer. I couldn't screw up (even when I screwed up). I have dental. DENTAL.

That's REAL!

Maybe it was the bad things, which among other stuff I won't detail in a blog, included my grandparents' deaths. In some ways it was very beautiful and fitting. My grandfather was an English professor. He treasured his mind, and his facility with language, and he never lost it, right until the end. My grandmother died four weeks to the day after him. She liked to say, as his cancer raged, "I want him to reach back and pull me after him."

They were in their mid-80s, part of the vanishing World War II generation and ready to go.

But it was tough because my grandfather was very Mormon and most of his pre-death urging for me was to stay as Mormon as possible. Of everyone in my family, he is the person I wish I could be the most honest with about my mixed feelings toward Mormonism, but I wasn't about to bring that up on his deathbed. And now he's gone.

I have a few mementos of him sitting here: his unfinished novel with his instructions to 'finish it and whoever's writing is least embarrassing, put his name on the cover.' I have his Henry James books, since one of our last conversations was about his love of Henry James, who I've never enjoyed much. One day I'll rewrite this book. And read Henry James. So far, that day isn't today.

Maybe it was just burnout from Viable Paradise and the burst of writing I did when I came home. I learned a ton at VP and I came home and did NaNoWriMo in fifteen days, and then... splat.

I've heard recently of a syndrome I will call "post-workshop malabsorption," in which the rewiring the workshop has done takes a while to settle, and the muse just decides to take some time off and let it sink in.

The muse is a lazy jerk.

It was definitely somehow related to the explosion on the music front. I was in one band that "took off," relatively, then my other disbanded band rebanded with a new singer. (Bands are here and here, for the two people who haven't heard me brag about them.) I played and recorded and mixed and played and played and played. Music is very enticing when I'm not writing: it's social, it's intuitive, and it requires very little generation and a lot of practice.

A few years ago, when I was feeling creatively blocked, I threw myself into cooking with similar zest. (Cooking... zest... ah!) Everything was about the instant satisfaction of seeing my wife go, "Oh, this is good! What the heck did you do?" Sometimes you don't want the year of headgames that a novel entails.

And maybe it was just that I have two small kids and my wife and I both work from home.

Regardless, I am still staring at a pile of undone goals, most recently listed as "Finish By End of the Year," after they were updated from "Finish By End of September."

But. Weirdly enough, this year I made two pro sales, and both stories were well into novelette territory. I had a story appear in the very awesome Human Tales anthology and the incredible Jen Brozek and her lovely house-elf Lillian scheduled me my first public reading outside of a con at Village Books, the magnificent used bookstore in Bellingham. I closed out the year with a yet-to-be-disclosed reprint sale.

So if I had just made New Year's resolutions for "more pro publications" and "get a real, respectable job in my field" and "become a minor rock star," I wouldn't feel so ashamed. With that in mind, my New Year's Resolution for 2012 is to sell a novel for a ridiculous advance.

For every one of us, living in this world
means waiting for our end. Let whoever can
win glory before death. When a warrior is gone,
that will be his best and only bulwark.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Your resolution should be: stop peeing in the public pools.
    And don't eat candy from the bellinghamsters