I remember having dinner with a friend of mine around the end of May, and explaining to him a bunch of ridiculous bullshit in my professional life that had sucked some of the energy out of me. At the end of my rant I blinked at him and said something like, “Shit, that all happened this month … and it’s still May.” Or something similar that probably included more cursing. The rest of the year gradually went a lot better overall, but I feel like 2017 was one of those years jam-packed with a lot of stuff, not just for me but for the world at large, too, and not all of it good. For a lot of people this was probably a terrible year (sorry, most Americans) but it was also a year filled with a lot of change and a lot of hope, which is never a bad thing. I genuinely believe that it takes dramatic events and a little pain for drastic changes to happen for humanity, so while there’s a lot that sucks right now, I’m confident things will get better.
Like I said, this year was busy. When I look back on everything in just my life, I’m amazed that it all fit into 365 days. And though I normally shrug off success and self-deprecate a lot, people have been encouraging me to knock that off. So with another new year waving at me from around the corner, here are the writerly accomplishments I’m proud of and grateful for from 2017:
- 5 short stories published in a mixture of magazines and anthologies, with two more stories sold that will appear sometime in 2018
- Another Honorable Mention from Writers of the Future, for my short story “Synchronicity and Sonata”
- A bunch of additional short stories written and a new novel in progress, all of which I feel is stronger and better constructed than any of my previous work
- Continuing my review and interview column on Black Gate, and actually receiving some recognition for it on occasion
- Helping to organize the most successful Can*Con to date with an amazing team of friends, which allowed me to meet and work with a ton of new people from the writing community
- Becoming a member of SFWA and attending my first ever Nebulas Conference
- New projects lined up for 2018 that will stretch my writing muscles, which may or may not include a short comic and some RPG stuff (shh…)
What I think is really important is the combined experiences that have taught me a lot about my style, where I’m at as a writer, and where I need to go. If anything, I’ve learned to sit back and evaluate things carefully, whether it’s a line of dialogue or an idea for a story or an opportunity in life (not necessarily to do with writing). And I realized that while it’s good to be busy, it’s really easy to become too busy, and that’s when you have to give things up. I started off this year as a part-time college professor, an assistant editorial director for a fledgling publishing company, a writer, a programming co-ordinator for Can*Con, and on top of all of that a full-time high school teacher. Yes, I know that’s insane, and I’ve learned from my mistakes.
On that note, this year wound down with me finally attaining a permanent position with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, which still feels a little surreal to me even though I’ve been “contract” for two months. If you don’t know much about the Ontario teaching market, it’s tough, and going into my sixth year as a teacher I was starting to lose hope that I’d ever become permanent. But this is a lesson that while your career may hit some roadblocks, if you work hard and do right you’ll land where you want to be. To quote Richard Castle, “One day you will look back and realize that every experience you’ve ever had, every seeming mistake or blind alley was actually a straight line to who you were meant to be.”
Most importantly, this year was filled with a lot of laughs and a lot of time spent with good people. I made new friends, and deepened my relationships with people already in my life. I tried to be there for people when it counted. I taught some of the most brilliant students I’ve ever encountered, and got to watch a bunch of them graduate and set off on new adventures. It sounds cliche, but it’s family and friends that make life valuable, and help you get past any pain or horror or bullshit that crosses your path. I spend a lot of time on social media sending shout-outs to the people I admire and respect and depend on, because it’s easy to take people and things for granted if you’re not careful.
But I don’t want to get too prosaic or wistful. This blog is supposed to be rambling and honest and occasionally heavy with cursing, so why should an end-of-year post be any different? [I almost inserted a bad word in there, but certain people who shall remain nameless (*cough* Derek *cough*) would be disappointed.]
Okay, maybe one more thing. At times like this I usually think about one of my favorite lines from science fiction, in this case from a character we also said goodbye to just last week. It’s become of my many mantras, and whatever your feelings about 2017, maybe it can be useful for you, too:
“Things end, that’s all. Everything ends, and it’s always sad. But everything begins again, too, and that’s always happy. Be happy. I’ll look after everything else.” — The Doctor, as played by Peter Capaldi