As Years Go, This Was More of A Month

Sometimes, you think you’re just about done processing January 2014 when you realize the whole darn year’s gone. That’s what this last year was like.

As a child of the 80s, 2015 has always been THE FUTURE in big capital letters. Hoverboards and flying cars and all that, yes, but also an old Marty McFly with a broken hand and Flea getting him fired. By fax. (That’s scary, knowhumsayin? I might get fired by fax this year.)

This was a hell of a year. We bought our first house one week before the start of 2014. I spent the year ignoring various issues with the house, including mildew and a sump pump. I have now paid the price, for I have scrambled around under a house fixing a pump, and I have chopped out hideous rotting carpet. Much like Calvin, I suspect I built character, and I loathe myself for it.

I started a new job this year. For years, I’d been teaching English full-time at Argosy University Online, a job that was flexible, but not really challenging, and not much in terms of long-term prospects. The world is teeming with online English teachers, and unexpected unemployment could be dangerous. When the local tribal college, where I was also teaching part-time, had an opening for E-Learning Coordinator, I went for it. It’s been fun, and exhausting. I went from feeling bored to feeling a little too useful, as I run the online program, design and teach online classes, and coordinate our videoconferencing classes.

The new job seems to be good for the writing, and bad for it all at once. I wrote not one, not two, but (almost) three novels this year. Each one clocked in under 70,000 words; one barely topped 50,000. I decided to consider this an unintended personal victory.

(This is not the same as when eating fifteen cookies is an unintended personal victory.)

In high school, when I wrote a novel, it topped out at over 200,000 words. For years, my comfort level with my big robberclobbering fantasy tomes has been somewhere between 140,000 words and 200,000 words. For those who don’t count the teeny little words, that’s between 600 and 1000 pages. So writing short novels feels good! Just imagine, if I had actually sold a novel by now I might not have learned this skill. Yay?

Of course, the job has taken over a lot of the time I had for things like blogging, managing submissions, thinking… but I did manage to put out quite a few interviews and articles on Bleeding Cool this year. I’m quite proud of the one with G. Willow Wilson, if you can’t decide where to start.

Just about every year I wonder whether I can make this the big “My Year,” in which I hit some writing-career-defining milestone. I think I did more writing and submitting in 2014 than I have in a while. I got a story in F&SF, another in Every Day Fiction, and have one forthcoming in Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

Still, I don’t think I’ve had “my year” yet. 2015, you are the Future. Are you also My Year? Tell me, but not by fax.

 

Winning Scholarship!

I’m very glad to announce that I’ve received the Jay Lake memorial scholarship to the Paradise Lost writing workshop in April. PL is a workshop for “neo-pros,” meaning those who have completed a major by-audition workshop or published short stories. It was originally established as a soiree for graduates of Viable Paradise, hence the name.

VP was an amazing moment in my life where I got a much-needed kick in the pants and learned a lot about writing. I’ve been wanting to do the Paradise Lost workshop for years, this year especially, because I would get to hang out with the crass and craft Chuck Wendig.

So I’m grateful. More than that, I’m honored, because the scholarship is in the name of my much-missed friend, Jay Lake. (Who the hell is Jay Lake? If you remember that, yay.)

For the five people in the world who didn’t know him, Jay was a writer who wrote copious amounts of science fiction, and also blogged through his cancer in excruciating detail. (The “who the hell is Jay Lake,” for those who don’t know, was one of his con giveaway pins, playing on the fact that it was impossible not to know him.)

Jay was a friend from the time I met him. He was always encouraging. He remembered the few pieces of my writing that he had read and when we talked about writing, he would emphasize my strengths based on what he remembered. I was one of thousands of writers he was at least a part-time mentor to. He was never fake—he was friendly and complimentary and available. He preached persistence and he lived persistence. Despite cancer, he continuted writing like crazy, battling through the depression and anxiety that came with cancer, caring for his daughter, cooperating with his ex-wife, and maintaining a robust dating life, especially for a sick dude.

I am honored to have this scholarship in his name, and maybe to contribute a little bit of good to the world in his name.