Yes, I’ve been absent. Here, anyway.
Yes, I didn’t do Christmas cards. (Correction, I wrote the Christmas card letter and even designed it, had the photo picked out for the card itself, but I never made it to VistaPrint to put the whole thing together.)
Yes, I had considered the possibility of making a New Year’s card instead, but that thought flew out the window the day after Christmas.
Here’s the gist of my 2022: We are all fine here, MS remains in remission, I wrote a book and grew a lot of flowers and vegetables, made enough pizza sauce to last me a year, disturbed a herd of elk while mountain biking, dipped my kayak paddle several times and frolicked with seals, and yeah, COVID sucks. (I’m still COVID naïve, btw.)
Unfortunately, I still haven’t mastered bilocation*
I’ve not been absent elsewhere… I just haven’t been here; I’ve been writing like a beast.
- A daily write-in group in Chicago has embraced me with open arms and I am now in love with all of these diverse thinkers, doers, creators, writers, and seers. Bonus points because C H I C A G O .
- Three separate critique groups now demand both my content and my feedback, so my reading playlist has blown up. Plus, I have to keep giving them something, so I have to keep writing something.
- I wrote a memoirish piece for an anthology that will come out in 2024 that I’m pretty stoked about: details from a solo hiking trip that have me thinking about how women have to look out after each other as we demand more space to move through the world WITHOUT APOLOGY.
- My novel, Eminent Domain, is getting prepped for a beta reader in January; at 129,000 words, you’d think it would be done but there is so much to say in a first draft. It’s a good thing I love revising my own words.
- My short story collection, Trust Fall: Stories is waiting for feedback from two fresh new readers, plus I’ll have a future conversation with my Mainer editor Beth when she returns to the PNW in January, after which I will package and ship it to another small press which might actually want to put its signature on it.
But wait, here’s the thing, the epiphany of this year dated 2022:
(and though I’ve always known this, I suppose I forgot it when I went underground dealing with brain stuff over the last 10 years)
a fulfilling writing life (for me) cannot exist without community
2022 was the year I found my people again. (Cue choir of angels.)
Some of them came in through The Narrative Project and in Breakthrough Writers, certainly. I’ve sustained relationships with those in my Saturday critique group (which I joined in 2021). I started my own monthly accountability group because why not? And see the previously aforementioned superfly daily write-in group in Chicago.
Then there’s the matter of taking a year-long Hugo House SFF workshop led by the indomitable Nisi Shawl, which has left my head spinning from the learning and thinking and dreaming and reading and analyzing and sharing of all the writerly things. What a gift, this class, literally a jackpot of like-minded souls walking the same trails, drinking from the same river, wanting the same vistas. Their ideas and energy and good humor are something I realize I have missed for far too long, thanks to MS (and by the way, 🖕FUMS). The class’s adjacent SLACK is an additional lifeline I didn’t even know I needed. I hope I know these people until the End of Days, not a small thing given I’m hovering at the precipice of my life’s final quarter and you know what they say about old dogs…
So. Much. Hope.**
2023, if I could assign it a color, would be gold and shimmering.
For this coming year, I’m looking forward to some new and/or potential applications of time and energy:
- More daily reading. All kinds. Craft books. Nonfiction. Poetry. Fiction. Especially from my friends. Old magazines. Plays. Scripts. (Hat tip to JA for being the inspirational voracious reader in my new writing clan. I’ll never be able to keep up, but I can try.)
- Goals for completion: My goal for Eminent Domain is to have the final ready for beta readers by end of 2023 and to see Trust Fall: Stories into publication this year. I also have a new book of flash fiction/prose poetry I’d like to begin collecting and a new post-apocalypse novel, The Flare, to move up the idea queue, possibly for NaNoWriMo. (No, there is no plague, I think we’re all pretty much done with plagues.)
- Shortform! I also want to generate more short work this year. Stories, fragments, essays, poems of every stripe… even 10-minute plays are a possibility.
- Submissions accountability group. Some folks may know about the writers marketing group I hosted 2000 to 2008 (Marketeers/The Bluestocking 8). I am thinking about taking that out of retirement and starting again.
2023 goes 3D for me
My password for 2023, if I expect to get past the social speakeasy grill, has gotta be “3D.”
Zoom is great and all (nah, I have a love-hate relationship with teleconferencing of most every kind and tire of Flat Stanley Brady Bunch “mixers”), but Zoom et al lacks the depth dimension, which I crave more than sugar or sunlight. I will even wear a mask if I must to get enough of it.***
So in 2023:
- I’m moving toward conventions and conferences instead of silent writing retreats. I’ve loved the silent writing retreats all these years, but it’s time this mama bear awakens from her hibernation. I’ve recently retired from my daytime writing life (last contract ends when my medical credentials expire this summer), so it’s not like I need these retreats anymore when I have the house to myself most days. Instead:
- You’ll see me at Norwescon and Crypticon and I’ll be taking Jennifer Givhan‘s workshop at the Port Townsend Writers Conference live this year.
- I’m also on the waiting list for the Rainforest Writers Village Retreat for 2023 and will definitely get a slot in 2024.
- Still thinking about Foolscap, ChiCon, ClarionWest, Surrey.
- I’m also presenting at AWP in Seattle this spring and participating in an off-site reading which may be the first time I’ve read out loud in front of actual people in the flesh since early February 2020.
I cannot express how psyched I am to finally have the opportunity to pass through the creative stardust that gathered writers organically shed just by simply bearing their thoughts in a shared universe.
It’s time to leave behind that less-than-sparkly facsimile of a writing life I’ve had and jump back into the fray. I’m hearing through the grapevine that many of my peers are feeling the same phoenix-rising energy coming around the bend in 2023, and if my constant encounters with 11:11**** this fall and winter mean anything, then I’m primed for whatever comes.
Wishing you a fierce new year filled with passions, laughter, irreverence, resilience, and all the tacos, Tuesday or not.
*If you know, you know. (Bilocation)
**And I’m not even talking about COVID, though I feel like we are turning a corner there and (dare I say it out loud) entering endemic territory.
***Yes, I still mask (thank you for asking) at the grocery store or anywhere inside where there are just too many humans, and not just for self protection. I cannot NOT honor all those who I’ve personally lost who saved the lives of so many by fearlessly performing front line intubations. And let me be clear: I wear a mask to say FU to all the people who have refused to do the right thing all along, the antimaskers and the antivaxxers, whose behavior helped create the conditions that led to these easy sacrifices, of heroic healthcare workers and our most vulnerable, to protect some imagined entitlement they claim to “normalcy.” I want to say to them that the old normal is as dead as the last century, and the new normal is not what you think it is. Disability rights is ceding to disability justice. Don’t believe me? Read The Year of the Tiger and discover Alice Wong.
****If you know, you know. 2.0. (11:11)