It’s the end of year and it seems everyone is putting together a year-end retrospective. And why not? I suppose the end of the year is as good a time as any to reflect on what has come before and where things are headed now.
I had anticipated the year to be focused on the business side of novel work–the editing, rewriting, shopping it around. While that took a big chunk of my head-space this year, I’ll admit, I was unprepared how much waiting was involved in the process. So much waiting. 2012 has taught me patience, and how to distract myself with projects I can make progress on instead of obsessing over things I cannot control.
As a small publisher, I got to see the culmination of some long-in-works projects: the Cobalt City Double Feature and the Cobalt City Rookies e-books featuring five authors deserving of a much larger readership. I love all five of the novellas that we published, as have everyone I know who has read them. 2012 has taught me that publishing great stories isn’t enough, and that successful marketing is everything. (Hey, they’re available on Kindle and Nook also at the appropriate stores! Stock up your e-reader now!)
Carefully managing my queue of short fiction looking for a good home, I started actively sending out submissions again. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my friend and fellow author Dawn Vogel who cracked the whip on submissions, because I doubt I would have placed quite so many stories this year without her. Halfway through the year, I was averaging a story a month, which for me felt kind of huge. It slowed down, mind you. Stories got picked up and I wasn’t writing enough new ones, and even most of those that I did finish in 2012 were placed. Unless my math fails me, I found homes for seven stories. This includes a few somewhat darker, stranger, pieces that I had almost given up hope on. My India-flavored fantasy piece, in fact, my only pure fantasy piece of the year came out in November in Sword & Sorceress 27, and my moody story of a crumbling marriage and an unusual lake comes out in just under a month in Blood Rites. And then I culled the list, retiring anything over five years old to the drawer. 2012 taught me that if you keep working at it, you get better at it, and while the ideas of half-decade-ago might still be good, some stories should be redone from scratch rather than “brushed up.”
It has also been a good year for personal growth. I’m more at peace with my place in the world. I’m better able to find my Zen and work through problems. I’m a better diplomat, both at the day job and in my personal life. I’ve taken more time to enjoy the quiet moments of honest, quiet, one-on-one connection with close friends and that’s brought me a lot of peace. I’ve gotten better at separating my “needs” from my “wants” and have made smarter choices as a result. Despite a year that has included no small share of hardships and setbacks, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The last year has had so many moments that are nothing short of magical that I couldn’t list them if I tried. 2012 taught me that the more skin you put in the game, the greater the risks and the greater the reward.
Spiritually (yes, I went there), I’ve reaffirmed the value of certain core principles in my life: honesty, empathy, clear communication, compassion, and the value of a simple task done well. 2012 helped teach me how by to improve my own inner life and in turn make the lives of those around me a little better as well.
I look forward to what 2013 will bring. My current agenda already has a few things piling up: I need to start paying attention to the agent hunt again. I have a novel I started in November that I need to finish, and one from a few years back to edit. I have a few short stories I want to write, a few to polish and submit, and more ideas come to me all the time. I need to look at what we’re doing as a publisher this year–audio books are likely, more back catalog on e-book are all but certain, and more marketing is essential. I’m planning on a trip to Thailand sometime before my birthday to visit one of my best friends who will be there teaching, and who knows what kind of story ideas that will inspire. And finding out that three of my top five posts of this year were about candy, I guess I should really keep up on the Fringe Candy posting. Maybe even a new one to start out the year.
Bring it, 2013. I’m ready to eat you alive.