So I thought I would type out one of those stereotypical End of Year Wrap Ups, mostly because it has been a year since I blogged, and I figured that if you’re not following me on Twitter, you probably think I tapped a crystal point and went off to Tahldia.
Why the vanishing act? Well . . . 2015 was a rollercoaster. There is no other simple way of phrasing it. I had some exceptionally amazing highs, and some incredibly depressing lows, and many of them came out of nowhere. Some highs and lows are still percolating in as I type. I’ll get the bad stuff out of the way, and move on to all the wonderful things that happened. It’s tempting to gloss over the troubles, or leave them out completely, but I don’t think that’s being completely honest. This is a blog, after all. The lows, as much as the highs, have shaped me into my present form.
Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way, shall we?
Every flight home that I took this year was one based out of grief. I lost my grandmother in February and a close friend in April. I also found out that my father has a dastardly form of cancer that doesn’t appear curable. I think these facts have really put my mental health to the test this year. It’s hard to continue working and living in another state while my dad deals with this. My father has told me, quite firmly, to stay put, and continue doing what I’m doing. There are deeper reasons for me remaining fixed in place across the country, but some of those are too personal for the internet. So, I sit. I wait. I ingest hospital updates and lessons on clinical trials and chemotherapy. At times, I’m overwhelmed with anxiety.
Every second I want to be there, even if it means throwing away the life I’ve worked so hard to build. There is a constant thrum of anxiety in my soul. I won’t lie, I’ve struggled with some depression, but overall I’m doing okay. I tell myself life could be worse, and I try to get on with it. My dad wants me to.
I’m only telling you this now, because this is one of the reasons I’ve stepped back from almost all forms of social media. I’m also telling you this, because chances are you’ve been affected by cancer, too. You probably understand. Maybe we will go have some beers and talk about it, who knows. I lose nothing by being honest, I think.
One of the healthiest habits I have, with regards to combatting depression, is the fight to stay busy. I haven’t drawn as much as I would have liked, nor watched all the Schoolism videos I have waiting in my queue. I’ve thrown myself pretty deep into my day job, and worked harder than I ever have. When I crawl home at night aching, I still have the energy to dive into Tahldia and shape the characters waiting there.
My writing has slowed, but not stopped. Despite dealing with a non-writing related injury that requires surgery soon, I’ve managed to put the final touches on the first draft of my second book, and am about to hand over the second draft (post-beta reads) to my editor. This book is big, guys. I’m talking twice the size of the first novel.
At first, I contemplated splitting the novel into two parts, and pubbing each as a separate book (turning the trilogy into tetralogy). In fact, more than a few kind people urged me to do a split, just because I could make more money slinging three books on amazon vs. two. While I’m touched at that form of thoughtfulness, I’m going to keep this book as a singular purchase. It will be two parts, with an experimental interlude near the center that plays with history and point of view. I’m pretty sure I’m breaking a few writing rules by doing this, but I’ve received some excited feedback from beta readers, and I’m confident in the story I’ve created. You’ll get to meet new characters, and journey through the lost memories in Annie’s mind. A lot of questions will be answered.
I also toggled with some sensitive subjects in this novel. As a feminist, there are certain Tahldian themes of culture and expectation that I wanted to see tackled, dissected, and processed. Annie’s journey through this new world can’t just be all selfies, tavern dances, and snarky dialogue with Aiyana. I think I would do a disservice to Annie’s story if I left out the darker implications and complications of her culture and Tahldian culture colliding. And, at the end of the day, these subjects are sadly far too common in real life on planet Earth. I don’t think these sensitive scenes warrant a full on trigger warning, but I struggled writing them far more than any other chapters in the novel. I tried my best to juggle these politics with care. That’s as spoilery as I will get.
On the positive side of the personal front, 2015 was a year of new adventures. I attended Emerald City Comic Con, and we’ve decided to make it our yearly vacation. Seattle is such a beautiful, vibrant city, with a great mix of things to offer. When we weren’t admiring cosplay or listening to our favorite authors host panels, we were wandering Pikes Place, eating oysters, watching the harbor, and working on our next hangover.
In August I attended my very first world con, and it’s safe to say I made some friends for life. It was a wondrous relief to meet so many like-minded people and share drinks into the wee hours of the morning. I was quite nervous before the adventure started... I was traveling solo, not knowing a soul, and I was worried I’d be a wallflower the entire time. After all, these are serious authors, and I like to write silly tropeish fantasy that reads a bit like Sailor Moon and the Rat Queens got drunk together. I walked in feeling shy and wondering if I would contribute anything, and left feeling a bit silly for the anxiety. A special shout out to Sunil Patel for giving me the best welcome imaginable, and introducing to a wonderful set of new friends (I highly recommend his stories).
Worldcon is now a permanent fixture on my calendar, and I’ve already got plane tickets for 2016, and I’m making plans for Finland, 2017.
After world con, I drove down to the redwoods and unplugged from the internet for nearly a week. I spent an entire day in a hammock hanging beneath ancient trees, sipped whiskey, and edited the first draft of the second book. I went on hikes, played card games with beloved friends, and walked down dark forest paths. It was very inspiring for fresh material.
I also got engaged to my best friend! After five years of delightful and exuberant nerdery, I’ve found a partner in crime for life. We’ve decided to throw a very small wedding, and put our funds toward owning a home and getting a stained glass shop going. It will be an exciting enterprise for 2016, and I’m very excited for that chapter to start. I’d like to make it an end-game goal for both of us to be creatively self-sufficient, and this is a mighty first step toward our dreams.
As for other 2016 goals, my first and foremost is to get my second book into the hands of readers. I have 60,000 words written in book three, and I have a lofty goal of completing the first draft before I go into surgery for my arm. It’s a heck of a lot easier to edit in a cast than write in one, yes?
And on that note, there is a brisk eastern wind shedding snow flurries across the trees, and the pup is standing expectantly at the door, urging a hike and some playtime. I'll wrap this up here, by wishing each and every one of you a happy and successful new year. Let's kick 2016's ass, shall we?