Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Photo from:  Ivan Zuber of Flickr
2013 was an interesting year for me. Because I'm only 24, I'm still at that stage where my life is kind of like a bag of Shake N' Bake--a whole bunch of nebulous things are thrown into a bag and tossed around, and whatever sticks to me is what we'll call my "adult life." Obviously, I am the chicken breast in this failure of a metaphor, and not just because of my "Sexy Big Bird" costume I own.

The past few years have found big changes for both my wife and myself. Hell, actually getting married was a big deal. Then I graduated from college. Then I got my first job, which involved us moving across the state. Then we moved again to a more choice location. Then I discovered my true form, shed my weak human shell, and ascended into insectile godhood. See? Big changes.

Each year, my wife and I talk about how this is the year that we're going to get a handle on things, but each year raises new and unexpected challenges. We adjust our schedule, keep laying plans for our future, looking toward that moment where we can settle down and say, "Okay, we've made it. We're adults now. The rest of it is just maintenance." I'm starting to suspect that isn't exactly how the world works.

This year my wife finally got herself situated. She graduated college, she got the kind of job she's always wanted--and with a work environment that is phenomenal. Everything hasn't quite settled down yet, all of the gears haven't finished clicking into place, but its looking more and more promising every day. Oh, we replaced one of our cars with a better one--although not the one my wife wanted to replace...maybe next year, dear.

This year also involved major changes at my job, changes that affect the nature of my job in a few ways. It's put a bit more stress on me and kept me pretty busy. Thankfully, by this point, I've learned the ropes of the job enough to be able to compensate somewhat for these changes and work to make things just a little easier. But it has affected what I can and can't do at home, how much time I can devote to writing and reading and such.

2013 also re-demonstrated that I am shit at keeping resolutions. Even though they've been mostly the same resolutions for 7 years or so, I continue to be balls at meeting them. That's okay, though. I tried. I think, as long as you try, it all shakes out. So I didn't exercise nearly enough, nor did I really eat the way I should have. We also didn't unplug like we intended. There's always next year.

That's the thing I like about New Year's resolutions, even if you fuck them up, there's always the opportunity to try again, to do better--at least, as long as you understand time as a linear progression and not something like a random firing of stimuli in the cerebral cortex of a flaming space-bird's brain as it crashes into a dying star or something. But why would you think of time like that? You weirdo.

Writing-wise, I did much better this year. While the quality is probably still dubious, I've been more consistent. I've blogged more this year than any year before, which is good. I've also written and/or revised several short stories, which is better. I still can't keep a consistent schedule, but I'm improving in that regard. I also submitted much more this year. I wish I could post the blog equivalent of dancing in the end zone, but that particular stroke of luck hasn't struck yet. I'll just keep plugging along, scrawling my fever dreams in my book bound in human flesh using the blood of my enemies as ink--y'know, the usual writer stuff.

Reading wise, I came damn close to meeting my goal of reading 25 books in the year. I really am celebrating, as this is the most books I've read since 2010. I had a LOT of down time then, and I was going through some stuff, so reading was how I'd coped. This year, it was sheer making time for it. I am, as of this writing, one book short of my goal. I'm hoping I can knock one out today (New Year's Eve), but I don't know if I'll get the chance.

It's not the quantity of reading, though. I'm also pleased with what I read. Not only have I started getting into comics, but I've found some real gems in my quest to expand my reading list. This year, I tried to focus on reading sci-fi/fantasy/horror stuff by women. I did read a little outside of my genre of choice, but not as much as I would have liked.

So where does that leave me for 2014?

In terms of writing, pretty much where I am now. I'd like to be more consistent with how often I write, but it's damn hard to get into that headspace with my current job. I am trying, though, and my wife is helping. Lately, she's been yelling at me if I don't get my ass in my office and work on something for at least 30 minutes before bed.

This year, I think I'll alternate between working on a novel that has me enchanted at the moment, and working on revising/submitting short stories.

This year, I want to read more non-fiction books and expand my mind. I have lots of books queued up that look interesting--books about local history, books about Islam, books about transfolks' experiences, books about African Americans' experiences, etc. I'd like to learn a lot this year.

I also want to read more books by PoC writers. My bookshelf looks pretty universally white, and I'd like to fix that.

There are also some pretty big and kind of terrifying life changes that the wife and I are looking into making. We've been talking about them pretty much every night, doing research, crunching numbers. We're really excited by the prospects, but also terrified--well, I am. Because I feel like we have a good thing going here, we're finally starting to get settled, and I don't want to tip that balance and have it all come crashing down around me.

So, here's to 2013--it wasn't a bad year. Here's to 2014--may it kick all kinds of ass and bring with it much glorious good times.