“When the situation is hopeless, there’s nothing to worry about.” Perhaps, no finer more farseeing words exited the pen of Edward Abbey. Were he clairvoyant, I’d like to imagine that he was looking into his crystal and seeing the entirety of 2017. Four nuclear powers pointing missiles at the US, a cartoonishly ignorant power monger at the top, and who could forget his herd of self-serving oligarchs eagerly sniffing each and every pile he drops in the hopes of coprophagic satisfaction.
For me personally, things haven’t been much better. This year I struggled with universal rejection, hardware failure, and a double helping of pneumonia. In fact, we’re ending the old year pretty much as we began it, mild secondary infection threatening to take over.
But, I ran across this bit of wisdom this morning. Chuck Wendig’s twitter thread is worthy of eye time, but the gist of it is contained neatly in this bit below.
So, without further adieu, let us proceed into the new year without self-doubt.
Not a great year for me, not even a good year, but let’s examine the better bits. First, all of the rights for short stories save LUMP that I’ve written for Samuel Peralta’s Chronicles series have now reverted. LUMP will never revert, as it’s part of a Kindle Worlds series, so don’t hold your breath if you think I’ll release this one as a sci-fi snack. Just belly up to the bar and plonk down your hard earned cash ($3.99 USD). The rest are mine and given the opportunity and some retooling may become part of an anthology. So yeah, right!
Word count wise 2017 was a box of rocks. Not including this gem, I’m standing tall on 40k and change. I know I’m not counting a bunch of things I have written this year, namely all that stuff I banged out on my phone during my summer long laptop free period, but honestly, there’s not an easy way to count those so they’re lost. Let’s move along.
I have spent some quality time retooling. I hired Crystal Watanabe to look at “Ser Pan Comido” from Galaxy Chronicles. I’ve got her notes and have been thinking about what to do with this story.
Finally, I’ve let my writing discipline become soft. This is my own damn fault and furthermore, I’m the only one who can fix it. Instead of writing every morning, I’ve gone weeks at a time without sitting down for some wordsmithing. The longer you don’t exercise that part of your brain, the harder it becomes to exercise that part of your brain. I can attempt to solve this with equal parts better sleep hygiene and consistent scheduling.
This year I have actually read a metric crap-tonne, although you wouldn’t know it if you followed my statistics on Goodreads. Lots of magazines (High Country Times, Mother Jones, and of course plenty of running and trail nosh), plus a fair amount of books from the library. Right now I’m creeping through the complete works of Colin Fletcher and earlier this year I focused on Jack London. Add to that stack new releases by a bunch of SFF authors who I follow and that pile of paper is starting to look substantial. I guess I’ve needed an outlet.
Ouch! This year has been a struggle. Admittedly, I haven’t made it much better for myself. The big reveal happened this autumn when we determined, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I am now allergic to wheat. While this has all but eliminated cookies from my diet, I am learning to live with it. My weight has stayed steady at about 190 lbs (86.5 kg to be exact), but relative to my goals going into the year that’s an unacceptable outcome. Okay, I can cut myself some slack here. Two pneumonia infections and a summer of smoke made breathing a challenge and that’s one of those necessary components of any exercise program. My diet isn’t … bad. It could be better, but there are plans.
Yep, I’m still making buttkiss for income. This year my expenditures will far exceed my income. I could take this as a reason to feel self-doubt, and in fact, I have felt this way, but today? I’m feeling like fuck that shit. On the positive side of things, I am rid of the Prius. The great soulless elephant of this modern age, an icon of my liberal guilt, has moved on to a new owner, someone I can hope commutes to and fro on a daily basis. I’m running bio-diesel and while the Delica isn’t nearly as fuel friendly it also won’t tie me to a tremendous debt. Next year I’ll be able to knock out much of what I owe to The Man while simultaneously going on trips into the Cascades and beyond. While I am still a grateful dependent, the bar to self-sufficiency had been lowered.
My chief concern this year has been my ever-suffering wife Tess. Aral and Justin seem to be doing well, growing and exploring, seeking adventure, looking to the future, acting on civility and that means I’ve been a successful parent. But I worry that I’m not nearly as socko when it comes to supporting her. I need to sit down and think about what I can do to become a more effective partner. I know, I need to become healthier so that I can complete projects and general maintenance, but beyond that, I’m going to need to acknowledge my shortcomings.
What to Expect
- I’m going to rewrite Fire Weather from scratch. Yep, the concept is sound, but the first draft is rough. Its edges are so sharp that every time I review the manuscript thinking I’m going to rework what’s there I come away bleeding. So, 70k words for the waste bin and do again
- I’m going to apply to Clarion West. I’ve already assembled my application packet and the only thing preventing me from sending it away is that tiny bit of lingering self-doubt that it’s not good enough to get in. You throw the dice, you hope for the best
- I’m going to write three new short stories in 2018. All three of these will be extensions of my GOAT character Murray Biyaal
- I will investigate going back to school and potentially apply to University
- I will hire an editor and develop a long-term relationship with the same
- Write and publish five ultralight backpacking articles
- Finish re-reading the Colin Fletcher bibliography
- Re-read the Edward Abbey bibliography including the semi-autobiographical stuff
- Re-read METAtropolis series of anthologies
- Read Terry Tempts Williams’ longer works
- Read the complete works of Wallace Stegner
- Renew my commitment to the discipline of writing
- Two significant bicycle tours
- Walk every day!
- Backpack the Wonderland Trail
- As much backpacking elsewhere as I can reasonably cram into my life, including overnighters.
- Walk some more, much more!
- Lose some weight
- Continue not eating wheat despite feeling like an annoying cur each and every time I look at a menu
- Finish the projects which obscure my house
- Figure out a way to take a vacation WITH JUST MY WIFE!
- Find new and interesting ways to be involved in Aral and Justin’s educations
- Play significantly less HOTS, use that surplus time to focus in on my family
- Restart reading aloud at night ritual with my family
- Disengage from social media that neither informs or improves me
- Use my van for the reason I brought it to North American from Japan. Use it!
- Rebuild my backpacking kit a skill set so that I can get out on the trail
- Get permitted for Wonderland
- Look at some PCT section hikes and both Lost and First Coast hikes
- Fill up my Instagram account with lots of new images from all my travels
Okay, so I’ve raised the annual cairn. I’ve looked back down that path as it crossed a clearcut of a year as honestly as I dare. While not perfect, it’s a distance that’s been traversed. My head is clear and I’ve laid out where I intend to go next year. Whatever your plans for the new year, I wish you the best of luck.