Another year in, another year out. The more I think about it, the more I’ve come to realize: this has been an absolutely insane year. I hit a lot of personal milestones, achievements, events, bucket list items and more. Below, in rough chronological order, are those chips of brightness that make up the mosaic of 2014.
January, I went over with my older brother, and visited Ukraine, my first time overseas in a foreign country, on a long-ass flight, experiencing a culture and peoples different than my own. It was mind-blowing in the best way, and through the haze of vodka-laced memories, I can still see the cities, the plates of Christmas dinner, the statues and shops and winter fairs, feel the squish of wet socks in damp boots on a train rocketing through the night, sharing a cabin with three other people in a space for two. It was an amazing way to kick off my year, and was so glad for the experience, (especially because it helped me get out of the polar vortex).
February through late March, I worked six weeks straight, and got more sick than I’ve ever been; at one point my doctor though it may be some form of y’know, meningitis. So that was awful. But it taught me as much as I want to stay busy and work, I have to learn to take some time for myself.
All the while, I had a chance to work with the incredible men and women of the JABberwocky Literary Agency, where I picked their brains about agenting, contracts, writing, and more. To Joshua, Eddie, Sam, Brady, Lisa, Christa, Krystyna, and Eeyore, I say, thank you so much for letting me become a part of your team for a while, and for teaching me all you knew. Through them, I got to know the Drinklings crew, and my circle of friends in the SFF publishing community grew by leaps and bounds. And it was about to grow even more . . .
Early in March, I received my acceptance letter to the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, one of the preeminent science fiction and fantasy short fiction writing workshops in the world. I was lighter than air. I literally turned to hydrogen for a moment, and then came back together, screaming my head off, jumping up and down in the JABberwocky offices, freaking out. When Jeff Vandermeer messaged me to say congratulations, my body deflated and I turned into a puddle of excitement on the floor. I’d been applying for five years and I had finally gotten in.
But that was still months away! So I continued bartending, bookselling, and working at JABberwocky. Around that time, thanks to the lovely and intelligent and kickass Rebecca Schinsky, I started writing for Book Riot, an amazing book related blog and news website, full of passionate, bookish badasses.
In April, a story of mine was published for the first time. And then a second in May. In both cases, there was a huge outpouring of love and support from the industry, and it warmed the entirety of my soul to know that kind of support for a new writer on the scene. Big thanks again to John Joseph Adams and Brian White, the two editors who took a chance on me; thanks again for putting my stuff out there.
May came in like a goofy, leaping hound, or maybe that was just me? In any case, had another amazing experience at the Book Expo of America, especially with my new Book Riot crew.
And then it was time for Clarion.
I’m not going to rehash what I’ve blogged about before, but it was one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life. I made friends for life, (many of whom I’d been reading for years), learned an insane amount about myself, my writing, and the industry in general, and experienced a new world of beauty in San Diego. Clarion, we salute thee. ::stand up, salutes, pants fall to ankles by accident::
Coming back from Clarion was a fist of cold water to the face, and for many weeks, it seemed as if I’d never recover my equilibrium. But then I attended the Writing Excuses Retreat, and for a week, out in the cooling autumn embrace of Chattanooga, Tennessee, I started to come back to center, learned how to process everything I’d learned at Clarion, and enjoyed time writing and talking writing with a great group of folks, who were all struggling to write, same as me, same as all writers. Thanks again to Mary Robinette Kowal (who helped clean my brain out of neuroses), Doc Brown and his lovely wife for putting us up in their ancestral, beautiful home, Dan Wells for the lovely gaming nights, Howard Taylor for making Rock City gnomes hysterical instead of terrifying, and Brandon Sanderson for typing quietly so I could sleep.
Refreshed from the experience, I jumped from that right into my first professional fantasy convention, World Fantasy Con down in Washington DC. An amazing experience, I’ve never been surrounded by so many heroes at once, and I was almost too stunned to go into hero worship mode. It was one long weekend of summer camp friends all seeing each other again and catching up. Thanks to everyone who made me feel welcome, bought me a drink, and to Sara Glassman for letting me buy her ticket, Gama Martinez for giving me a floor to sleep on, Scott Andrews for the beer, and Mom and Dad Vandermeer for the love. And Max Gladstone for talking drunk Marvel movies at 4 in the morning.
And that brings us to now.
I started a new job on Monday, as an assistant publicist with Skyhorse Publishing. I’m more than halfway through a new novel and hope to have that done soon. I’m going to begin looking for an agent soon after. I have a bunch of short stories I’m shopping around. I’m looking to move out of my parents house soon. I’m dating again. And I’m happy.
It’s been great 2014. Here’s hoping 2015 is full of magic, wonder, stories, good beer and great friends, not just for me, but for all of you as well.
See you on the other side!