The closing of the year

Yep, time for the usual end-of-the-year wrap-up post. This will probably be long, so fair warning…

All in all, not a bad year, if not as great as I was hoping for. Our financial picture improved after the bankruptcy was finalized in January, which was definitely not a fun process but one that removed a huge amount of stress for both of us. Our faithful 2005 Subaru Impreza brought my husband home from work one last time in May, after 381,000 miles, and was replaced with a 2015 Subaru Impreza. I had to get used to new work schedules both for him and myself that felt like they cut my free time dramatically (even though that was mostly an illusion), and for the first time carved out both a writing space and a writing time. I’ve gotten out of my usual habits through the holidays thanks to a pinched nerve that’s been hassling me since just after Thanksgiving, but I’m looking forward to getting back into a routine in 2016.

The biggest event of 2015 for me was, of course, RainFurrest, something I’d been planning for since the previous October. It’s kind of amusing to look back now through my 2015 planner and see all the lists I had going at various times, what to get, what to pack, what needed to be done before we left. It was an adventure, in all senses of the word, implying excitement, pleasure, anxiety, discomfort, and growth. Sometimes I do wish I could go back and get a do-over — prepare a little bit better for the panels, maybe, since I felt somewhat out of my element in many of them, or schedule a day before or after to see a bit of the city.

I admit that for too much of the con I felt kind of off-kilter — there were places I had to be when I would have rather been alone, and times I was alone when I would have rather been with people, and everything went by too fast and there were usually too many people around at once and I didn’t have as much time to chat one-on-one (or in small groups) as I would have liked. But I did have some good conversations and met a lot of great people and put a lot of faces to online usernames, so it wasn’t all rushing around, thankfully. The concert by Amadhia and friends at the guest of honor dinner was a highlight, and through the whole con, all the staff we encountered did a great job keeping everything together and making the experience as pleasant as possible for the GoHs and the attendees.

I feel a little sad at the thought that I apparently was a guest of honor at the last RF to be held in Seattle, now that the con has moved to Spokane, and I’m still angry both at the (relatively) few troublemakers who ruined the con’s relationship with the hotel/city and at the ways the fandom’s demographics/culture seem to have changed over the years, to the point where congoers seem more interested in partying than anything else and completely uninterested in how their behavior impacts others. (And even though I know the questions were from well-meaning people, I admit I got tired of hearing, after I got back, “So you were at RF? Was it as bad as everybody said?” Um, no, not from where I was. For me it was — as I expect it was for most of the attendees — a normal con, not a riot or an orgy or anything else people might have been imagining based on what went by on social media. Then again, keep in mind that I go to bed early by con standards, so maybe I just missed all the fun…)

On a personal level, I was looking for the experience of RF to answer some questions for me about how involved I want to be with furry going forward, and what my priorities are, and so forth, but in the end I was left with more questions than answers, and I think this next year is going to be spent sorting those things out.

I did at least learn that the dealer’s room isn’t the place for me — while I don’t mind signing books or doing readings, I don’t like handselling from behind a table, and I felt uncomfortable the whole time I was there but guilty whenever I had to be away. Still, I would never have learned that if I hadn’t tried. (Another part of what made the experience awkward was that, of the three boxes of books I shipped ahead to sell at the dealer’s table, only one showed up — the others apparently having been stolen after they were delivered — so I only had a handful of the stock I’d expected to have. But at least I sold what did show up.) At any rate, though, I’m also glad I had the table because it gave Jess E. Owen a place to sell her awesome books, and she does like handselling. 😀

And I was also reminded that I hate the hassle and general degradation of flying… and yet ever since the trip I’ve felt restless and longing to go somewhere again. (Any furcons within driving distance want a writing GoH? Just asking…)

Looking back on the year from a creative perspective, I’m actually surprised that I don’t feel more disappointed. I had originally planned on a novel that didn’t get finished in time for RF (and is badly in need of a detailed outline before I start work on it again), and while that bothered me at the time, it doesn’t now. (2016 is going to be the year I avoid deadlines like the plague. I have one prior commitment with a deadline, and as far as I’m concerned, everything else is just going to take as long as it takes. Write first, sell later, and trust that doors will open when ready.)

It was definitely a reprint year for me, both ones I sent out and ones that were solicited, and I didn’t finish as many new stories as I expected, but what I did write, I was proud of. “The Lady’s Service” in A Menagerie of Heroes allowed me to finally write the “missing chapter” of By Sword and Star that I’d always wanted to go back to — the story of the rabbit Breckon’s training with the squirrel-clan of the Drays — and now that it’s complete, I feel a nice sense of closure with the world of Asteria. And even though it sometimes felt like I was writing them at a breakneck pace, I also enjoyed writing the new stories in Huntress, especially “Where the Rivers Meet.” Those mornings spent at my writing desk, writing “Rivers” in my desk journal with my Waterman Rhapsody fountain pen, with the Ultima Thule podcast playing in my headphones, are some of my favorite writing-related memories from this past year.

Another favorite memory, of course, is from the Cóyotl Awards ceremony at RF, where “Huntress” won Best Novella for 2014. (My first award ceremony, and first — possibly nonsensical — acceptance speech. Seriously, I’m not entirely sure what I said. I suppose I should have prepared something, but that felt presumptuous, and then it would have sounded like prepared remarks, and… gah, see why these things are stressful for me?) I was hoping, of course, that it might win, because I still think it’s the best long-form fiction I’ve written to date, and it’s always nice to have something recognized when you wrote it without thought of impressing other people and just wrote whatever the heck you really wanted to write — but it was also against some strong competition, so I was never allowing myself to feel sure until the announcement. (It’s still so cool that the Cóyotl statuettes are little stuffed animals. That utterly delights me.) Though it wasn’t my first Cóyotl, it was the first I was actually there in person to accept, and felt the least like a fluke or a result of low voter participation — whether or not that’s true. 🙂

So despite not writing all that much this year, compared to others (other years and other writers, that is), I’m still left surprisingly satisfied, with two books on the shelf that weren’t there before — Huntress and the print version of Wishing Season — and several anthologies reprinting my stories and poems. On the marketing side, I started up my mailing list this year and finally took a new author photo, both of which please me. As for the stuff that didn’t get done… well, something else I started doing this year was reading the blog The Fluent Self, and along the way, some of Havi’s phrases have become part of my personal mental vocabulary. In other words — All Timing is Right Timing.

Which brings me, more or less, to 2016. It’s been harder than expected figuring out my goals for the year, mainly because some of them wind up being frankly contradictory. I want to focus more on novellas and novels, to get more experience with longer fiction. And yet I’m also still determined to earn SFWA membership, and the easiest route for me to do that is through short story publications. I want to spend less time envying others’ successes or feeling frustrated by things that don’t work out for me, which in my experience tends to involve unplugging more from social media — the idea of a retreat, whether at home or elsewhere, or just as a mindset, is very appealing to me right now — and yet I also want to build more community for myself, especially outside of furry and in the larger science fiction/fantasy writing community, mainly online through Codex, where I haven’t been participating nearly as much as I’d like to be. So figuring out where these goals intersect, or which ones take priority, is something of a challenge I’ll be working through in the coming months, I expect. (And I’m still president of the FWG until June, so that commitment needs to be factored in as well. Plus, y’know, full-time day job.)

At any rate, the novel that didn’t get finished in 2015 is a top priority for 2016, and November 2016 will mark a certain 25th anniversary that I’d like to commemorate. I’m also planning to overhaul my website so it’s mobile-friendly, probably by transferring things here to WordPress, but I’m still deciding on all the ins and outs of that. If just those things have all been completed by this time next year, I’ll be more than happy with the accomplishment.

Oh — and yeah, I’d like to post more here too. XD

See you next year…


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