What the Heck was That and other Thoughts about 2021
So here I am on January 5th, writing a blog post like a grown up serious adult Author with A Website and Presence and All
2021 was a whirlwind in a lot of ways. There were a lot of personal life upheavals from partner getting his PhD, buying our first house to losing job and finding one all in quick succession, to mystery medical nonsense (fixed) and ADHD diagnosis (a relief but not managed yet), kittens and snakes and spiders and fish tanks!!, Smol starting her new school amidst covid uncertainties— needless to say, my brain was all over the place this year.
And yet despite all that I still managed to
- attend my first writer’s workshop (Futurescapes 2021, hello virtual class!),
- got my first piece published (hello Scribe’s Garden, I’m coming back to your world soon),
- participated in Apex Magazine’s first Snap Judgement
- attended (virtually) the Nebulas and the Hugos,
- contributed to Sarah Gailey’s Building Beyond: Mossing Around
- wrote and rewrote and wrote some more — so many short stories in various stages of completion and the novel’s opening several times until I’m now at roughly 11k words.
(welcome, new readers, and enjoy my overuse of bulleted lists and abuse of parentheticals)(we’re not formal over here.)
And I read! So much! Novels and short fiction and flash and craft books. The way my brain works the past and the future are giant clouds of ??? so I can’t remember exactly when I read things or when they were published, but stories I do remember this year are:
- Jade War and Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee
- A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine
- Paladin’s Hope by T. Kingfisher
- The Witness for the Dead by Katherine Addison
- Piranesi by Susannah Clarke
- Archive of the Forgotten by A J Hackwith
- The Four Profound Weaves by R B Lemberg
- Queen of None by Natania Barron
- Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
- The Brass Queen by Elizabeth Chatsworth
And a whole host of short fiction, too many to count. Ones that stick out include
- Aimee Ogden’s “The Cold Calculations”
- T Kingfisher’s “Metal like Blood in the Dark”
- Hannah Yang’s “Eating Bitterness”
- Alyson Grauer’s “Lavender, Juniper, Gunpowder, Smoke”
- (GO ALY WE LOVE YOU)(I’m not biased or anything here. Aly’s a great friend and a fantastic writer who does not get enough recognition for her overall awesomeness)
- Ray Nayler’s “Yesterday’s Wolf”
- A Poem: Lisabelle Tay’s “Paladin”
- (I am a sucker for all things paladin, and this one got me right in the gosh darn feels)
- Alexandra Munck’s “Sandrine”
- Cat Valente’s “The Sin of America”
- McKinley Valentine’s “The Code for Everything”
- P H Lee’s “Frost’s Boy”
- Anya Ow’s “Umami”
I am one hundred precent sure I missed some but those are the ones that stuck out to me (and several have won awards) enough I that RT’d, foisted them on my friends, or otherwise posted about them somewhere. Which is really the only way I was able to compile this list, hah. I want to be better about recording what I read, when, and where this year, so that next year is easier. I’ll add another notebook to my writing desk to collect them.
Speaking of the writing desk:
The new house brought all sorts of advantages. A safe space to work out how, exactly, it is I work best (the adhd diagnosis also helped there). A huge desk where I can have a relatively ergonomic set up finally! A DOOR that I can CLOSE against the rest of the house!!! I don’t always need to because smol’s in school (for now, omicron willing) and Partner works from the basement office, but it’s nice to have the option. And the space to spread out! I have room for guests now!
And I’m learning how I work best, given my weird brain. Some things that have helped include body doubling via Zoom (Jeffries Tube #4 crew and the Lady Astronaut Club coworking sessions have saved me), having a log book tracking my start/end/total added word counts for the day, music playing, and my very favorite: the Square Method.
I learned about squares from Sarah MacLean and the combination of Very Small Goals (100 words per square) and coloring them in with pretty pens— my lizard brain said OOH SHINY and latched on hard. I’ve made more progress with the promise of being able to color in little squares than anything else so far.
What’s New in 2022?
One of the last things I did in 2021 was apply for Futurescapes (again) and Clarion West. I was accepted to Futurescapes, and am looking forward to the March workshop! I would have loved to do the August 50page workshop that was offered, but my budget didn’t allow it.
I don’t have a lot of hopes for getting accepted to Clarion West, but it was important to me to not self-reject and at least apply. I might also do for Viable Paradise, but that’s a little further into the future.
That’s kinda the motto this year. “Fuck it, why not try?” That and “Finish the Gosh Darned Novel”
I’m not putting pressure on myself to hit a certain wordcount every day, or otherwise hit arbitrary goals — I know that is a recipe for spiraling failure (one bad day turns into two, turns into why should I bother, turns into I’m awful turns into not writing for weeks). I’m just gonna make time to be at the keyboard and try my best.
So, things I hope to finish and get out on submission this year. I am not terribly fast so far, which is another thing I hope to work on this year now things have settled down:
- Canyon Masks – Novel, Adult Fantasy, hoping for ~110k
- “A courtesan-spy in the service of Fate and a god-chosen ex-outlaw hero are forced to team up and impersonate a mercenary warlord to free their desert home from tyrannical water-hoarding lords.”
- As of January 5th, sitting at 11k.
- The Siren & the Sailor (final title tbd) – Short Story, maybe 5k?
- Mostly I just wanted something to submit to Deadlands and/or Mermaids Monthly, and I think this’ll fit the bill when I finish it.
- Three Lives for Risdyr – Short Story
- Just-so story on the origin of herding-big-cats for a secondary world fantasy setting; where the spirit of Sabertooths annoys the Mother Goddess once too many and gets turned into a housecat to learn her lesson
- Bound by Oak & Stone rewrite — Short Story
- Set in the same world as Scribe’s Garden; the one’s so close. SO CLOSE.
Other things I have planned, if all goes well, includes attending the Nebulas and Hugos in person this year (covid willing). The Hugos are in Chicago, where I’ve never been and have friends there! Not sure about the Nebulas, but I’ve had such a fantastic time at the online ones, I’d really like to Experience it in Real Life if possible.
Closing In Gratitude
To finish off this self-centered ramble, I want to spotlight some folks. Even if they don’t know me (am shy), I’ve noticed Them and their Awesome. I really am trying to be better about speaking these things, making them visible in the world, even though I’m not super great at the True and Sincere Words (just the fiction ones):
- The Jeffries Tube Crew: Alyson Grauer and Jordan Shiveley
- What would I do without you guys? Your encouragement and presence and willingness to put up with my weirdness and read my stuff is a blessing every day ❤ Thank you so much.
- Jordan Kurella
- I see your all-caps hype every time someone posts positive news in the slacks and discord and I love it so SO much
- Clarissa C. S. Ryan
- From the first virtual Nebulas mentoring to now: you are a bright, encouraging light in the world, and how you have so much time to be everywhere I have no idea, but I appreciate it! Thank you ❤ See you in Kryta!
- Glenn Engel-Cox
- Your author birthday posts bring me so much joy, thank you so much for doing those. I look forward to them every day
- Tyler Hayes
- Your daily pins and happy things post are beautiful and uplifting and thank you for doing them. I love seeing what pins you’re sporting and why.
- Sarah Gailey
- Your writing dates are SO wholesome and I love them so much. Your encouragement means so much. Thank you for inviting me to contribute to Building Beyond.
- Natania Barron
- Your #threadtalks are amazing and inspiring, both in depth and breadth. I love your evident passion for the subjects and your detailing of the history around and influencing the fashions as well.
- Seanan McGuire, Ursula Vernon, and Shepherd
- For the delightful and wonderful and deeply compassionate weirdness you bring to the world. Your truth is meaningful and I am so glad you share it. Thank you.
- Discord Writing Communities: Odd Hours Café, Apex Magazine, Chez Rambo, and Writer Next Door
- I don’t always contribute much, but I am deeply grateful to be part of you. I learn so much just listening/reading. Thank you for letting me stay.
There’s more, there’s always more, but we’ll leave it there for now. Until next post~! Onward and Upward, friends!
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