2017 Year in Review

…What a weird year, right? I know it wasn’t just me; I’ve seen others talking about it as well, in their year-end retrospectives. I don’t even know what happened there. Another common theme I’m seeing is the juxtaposition of it being a great year personally and an absolute disaster of a year for the world at large. I would definitely say it’s the same for me – a lot of wonderful things happened to me against a backdrop of a world that is both literally and figuratively on fire.

A lot of my own personal good stuff this year was professional, relating to what I no longer feel weird referring to as my career as a writer. A lot of it wasn’t – I moved in with my boyfriend and we now have a cozy and comfortable home that’s all our own, the first time I really feel able to say that (previously having roommates or tiny cramped studios). I have cats, my beautiful tiny fuzzy babies. I got a pretty significant promotion and raise at my day job. I started teaching myself how to paint, both as a means of relaxation and a way to elevate my own writing with illustrations. I brought my longest running RPG campaign to what I felt was a pretty satisfying conclusion (hopefully the players felt the same!).

I got my first two paid writing gigs for RPGs (things that other people – professionals! – approached me about, not self-published work). Hell, those both came about in the same week, which was pretty insane. I was a special guest at a convention for the first time, even speaking on a panel (which was recorded here). I confirmed plans to be a guest at two upcoming cons in 2018: Running GAGG at SUNY Geneseo in January, and Breakout Con in Toronto in March. I’m really looking forward to both of these – I love conventions and it’s especially fun to be there as a guest. Breakout Con is new to me, but is run by some fellow gamers who I seriously respect. I’ve attended Running GAGG for a couple of years now, and not only is it the best run college convention I’ve ever been to (by a mile), it’s one of the best conventions overall.

I launched a Patreon (which you should pledge to, in my humble opinion). I’ve been floored by the generosity of my friends, quite honestly, and I really look forward to growing my little community there and seeing what we can do. I’ve created some self-published work that I’m really proud of. I’ve made serious progress on my primary novel project (which is now three novels, whoops), even though I didn’t complete this year’s NaNoWriMo successfully. On that note, though, I did complete my first year as an ML, which was a great experience. I made a lot of new friends and got to work with a lot of great people and I was reminded of just how cool NaNoWriMo is as a program.

So, you know, that’s all great, amazing stuff! I feel super proud of what I was able to accomplish this year, and I feel like I’ve laid a good groundwork to continue doing what I love in 2018. But also… the rest of the world. I find it very hard to ignore current events, and I wouldn’t want to if I could. I mean, how can you ignore that the president of your country is a malevolent idiot who would burn down our entire civilization if it meant he could make himself richer by a few pennies? How do you ignore that the rest of the world seems to have simple, functional social programs to take care of people while your own home is telling you to pull yourself up by your bootstraps? How do you ignore that the country’s government has been taken over by evangelists who want to usher in the literal apocalypse and make all their governance decisions with that goal in mind? You don’t, I guess, is the answer, or you delude yourself into thinking that it’s not as bad as it is.

A lot of writers I follow on social media have discussed their own difficulties with being productive and meeting deadlines this year, in large part due to the political atmosphere here in America. I won’t lie, I’ve thought a lot about trying to leave the country. I don’t think it’s a practical reality for us, as tempting as it is. I don’t begrudge anyone who leaves right now; it’s a prudent act of self-preservation. I want to tell myself, “It’s only a couple of years; maybe 3, maybe 7; I can get through 7 years.” But… it’s not just 7 years, is it? The problem isn’t our current administration. Well, okay, that’s a large part of our problem, but the real problem is the people who voted for that administration, and moreover, the people who still don’t see anything wrong with what’s happened so far. That type of rift won’t be healed in 7 years. This will take 20, 30, 40 years to fix, maybe. This is a fight that may consume the better part of my life, to say the least.

I feel like I said a lot of this in last year’s post – there’s certainly no shortage of people who saw this coming. On the one hand, dwelling on it doesn’t help. On the other hand, it’s frustrating to see how this all could have turned out differently, how we could be living in some alternate timeline where none of this had to happen. More and more, I feel like we’re living in the Mirror Universe and not Universe Prime.

Last year, I said, “2014 felt like I was being pulled along by a current, […] 2015 felt like I was actually able to steer in the right direction beyond just keeping myself afloat. To further that metaphor, 2016 (in retrospect) feels like bracing myself for a tidal wave.” Well, in 2017 I think that tidal wave hit, and I’m glad I braced myself. Reading the news each morning this year felt like being drowned anew every day. It makes me even more glad than I ordinarily would be that so many good things happened to me this year – these things provide anchors when the tsunami threatens to sweep everything away.

I hope that you had as many good things to help anchor you this year. And while I wish it wasn’t happening to any of us, I am glad that we are all in this together. It’s the only way we’ll make it through the coming turmoil, to do it together and to take care of each other. Be kind to each other. Exercise compassion and honesty and patience. Make time in 2018 to center that in your thoughts. It won’t be easy, but I’m going to try it as well.

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