At World Fantasy this year I sat in the bar at a table full of people crafting, and watched elisem
make a wire pendant with a stone feeding into a pen nib. "It's called 'Writing,'" she said, and grinned a little slyly. "It's better if you know that the stone's a bloodstone."
That is about how I've felt this year, in one object: duck-pressed. I've pushed myself through narrow channels and run things on my own blood for years, and slowly it's caught up with me, and I don't think it's a way I want to be anymore.
I am finite. That's not wrong: rest isn't a sin, and neither is fun done my own way, and apparently there are things I want more than my art, or as much. It's just how it is, and this is the year I realized that and started trying to effect the change.
That's meant a few things. Our senior editorial team looked at the job we were able to do, at our staff succeeding in their fields and moving on to bigger opportunities, and made the call to close Ideomancer
's doors after a personal seven years at the helm. That hurt. It's an old magazine, one of the oldest standing speculative markets online, and we did some great shit with it. But it was time; it was probably two years past time, to be blunt. I feel lighter with the guilt of not being able to give it my all lifted.
That's also meant a degree of stepping back from politics, both local and literary and scene. I wish I had a voice so powerful it could resolve arguments, instill compassion, and bend the slow-motion war that seems to be unfolding everywhere now, but, y'know, yet to deliver on that front. One of the more prolific tweeters on the Ferguson hashtag last year said something to the effect of: "The function of racism is to waste your time proving you're a human being," and I've taken that somewhat to heart. I'm weirdly aware of my mortality, this year. There is so much I want to do, and forty-odd years is such a short time in which to do it. The function of scene politics and who said what to who and who's subtweeting what is to waste my time and energy and heart. I have stopped. I'm fumbling, in the dark, for the shape of the bigger picture.
This might be odd for a year in which my watchword was generosity
until you realize that generosity inherently implies consent: It's a word for the things you freely choose to give. Not the things that people try to push or pull out of you, not the ways people corner each other, not the ways people can't ask or accept "no". I don't think, anymore, you can have generosity without solid, consensual boundaries.
This was not light work. But even though those lessons left me with something of an emotional bloody nose, they were good ones. After a 2014 that was just the world turned upside down, I am moving up and out again. Onwards and upwards. Hatching into something bigger, and new.
I only published one thing this year, but it was worth the wait. I finally saw An Inheritance of Ashes
into the world (four years in the making, hey!) and it seems to have found its legs and its readership. I was, let's say, highly anxious about how it would strike people: after working on a project that closely for that long, it's hard to see the forest for the trees anymore. And so far, the reviews are very good, it seems to be reaching a wider audience than Above
, and overall I think it's doing its job.
The paperback edition will be out October 2016. Difficult little headless bird book, finding itself a home. :)
In the whirl of authoring that preceded and followed the release, I've been reminded how much I love doing school and library visits, speaking to other groups of writers, and talking with people about the nuts and bolts of story and the ridiculousness that is an arts career. That's something I'm going to seek out more in the new year. It's interesting and fun and fills me up.
The rest of what I want to do in 2016 is drafting. I have two beautiful books well on the go -- beautiful in entirely different ways although structurally difficult in the exact same -- and I'd like at least one of them, likely The Robot Monuments
, drafted by midsummer. I want to be making. My hands itch. I want words.
So all told, this year was not what I wanted it to be. It was subtle and messy and none of the choices ever got clearer, although I think most of the time I landed on the right decisions despite a lot of mud and strain and static. I think I'm accepting that it doesn't get clearer again. We just pull our fragile flesh around us, and sight forward, and do our best to make and build.
Tonight is warm house, a big dinner, a pile of pastries brought back from BC; maybe a board game and champagne and contemplation and some company, shortly. I'm going to put some music on, once this is posted and safely away. Tomorrow, on the start of the year, we're heading to the suburbs for a young man's first birthday party.
I hope the year is good to you: bright, warm, expansive, steady as a rock. Happy New Year.