I suppose I should do this. What a year. What a miserable year.
Not entirely. But it’s amazing how a couple of truly unpleasant events can color an entire period, mixed bag though it is. There were good things, there were pleasant things, there was ample to lift the spirits.
It’s just that they had to be lifted so far.
As year-in-review posts go, I should probably keep this one short.
At some point back in the spring I finished my last novel. (Or was that the year before? I’d have to check, I don’t remember. No, that was April of 2017, so among other things my sense of time is fraying.) So a year and a half (or more) ago I turned in a novel to my agent and I am still waiting. I should be good at this.
I say “my last novel” because I have a drawer-full unsold. (I know what it was. I set aside the third volume of the alternate history trilogy I’d been working on to do Voyage of the Only Child and went back to it that fall and finished a draft this year. Okay, not as frayed as I thought.) I decided to go back to short fiction. The trouble is, I haven’t been writing short stories on a regular basis for so long that somewhere along the way I sort of forgot how.
Not completely. I’ve got a half dozen in rough draft now. I just have to find the time and patience to do them up and get them out, but that’s on track, and I actually submitted two stories last month.
All of that to say, basically, that this year has caused me to reassess my so-called career.
I don’t really have one. There are many factors at work—lack of time, too many things vying for my attention, being 64 and tired—many I’m probably not even aware of. My output, which used to be respectable, has slowed to a crawl.
I’m working on it. That fact alone is a positive. I am working on it. I’ve got new stories in process, ideas, and I find I cannot just say I’m done. I have officially given up on quitting. It never works and I start to sound like a broken record.
It helps to be working with several of the brightest people it has ever been my privilege to know.
It seems surreal that I’ve been working for Left Bank Books now six, almost seven years (is that right?) and I’m looking at the fourth year just ending running the Great Novels of the 22nd Century reading group there. The SF component of the store has grown and as of this past year we have a regular author track for events, the SF: STL series. Working with Archon has been a plus and it seems on track to become a Real Thing.
It seems often that all the peripheral things to The Career work out fine while the central thing—publishing books and stories—lags. I had something of a revelation this past year in a conversation with a coworker who claimed she wanted to be as successful as I. When I demurred, stating that I am not particularly successful, she cut me off and talked about how many books I’ve published.
Well, it did cause me to reassess, and it helped. Metrics vary, standards are different.
In the end, though, it comes down to how you see yourself. For now, I’ll keep that to myself.
2018 has been a mixed bag, to say the least. I’m not sure where it will end up, but right now it’s hard to get past the fact that too many friends have left the scene. It just wouldn’t stop, leaving the stage with one more loss that seemed almost insulting. But to who?
What I am looking forward to is a year of getting our feet back under us and accomplishing what we managed not to accomplish yet.
I read 76 books cover to cover (up from 51 the previous year) many of them read aloud to Donna in a newfound pastime we both enjoy. I’ll go over them on the Proximal Eye later.
As I said, I started submitting stories to magazines again. There aren’t that many of the old magazines left, but there are bunch of new ones.
I get up every day with curiosity, even though I feel wearier than ever before. I have no doubt the state of the world around me is a big contributing factor. It’s hard to be hopeful in the face of so much crap.
Philosophy has its benefits in this case, but I find the fact that we don’t have much choice but to do better pretty serviceable right now.
I plan to play a little chess, read several of the really Big Books on my to-be-read pile, and travel.
And write. Again, not a lot of choice there.
But I can endeavor to be less boring.
On that note, welcome to 2019, and I hope all who read this will find health, reason, joy, and hope in the coming months. Be safe, be alive, be well.