Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Adieu, 2013

It’s almost embarrassing, what with all the people I know complaining about how bad their year was. I’m racking my brain trying to think of a better year than 2013.

In 2009 my wife took the children to see her family in Alabama. I had the house to myself for two weeks, for what was one of the sweetest vacations I ever enjoyed, even if I was working part-time then. I was Public Affairs Officer for my son’s Civil Air Patrol squadron. I got my MCSA (remember those?) and, with that and the public relations work I was doing with CAP and other people, the Good Money seemed just around the corner. 

This is normally the place where one snarks about how the Good Money didn’t turn out. Well, it didn’t. But I was happy, and it looked like I was going somewhere, even if I wasn’t. That still counts for me. 

By way of example from the opposite corner, nothing really earth-shattering awful happened in my life in 2011. But I was sick with worry and grief that year, full of terror for how my family was going to get by. Twenty-eleven was a write-off year. A year-long anxiety attack.

The year 2007 is the last fully happy year I can think back to. We quit loathsome Newport News, Virginia, for a home in Colorado Springs. I went to the Royal Gorge and Seven Falls in the summer. I enjoyed my best birthday yet, the best (and last ever really good) Halloween with my then-young son. Then came the legendary Christmas That Lasted All Day. I’d gotten a job with Community Activities at the U.S. Air Force Academy. My wife still had time left in the Navy, and we had no inkling of how utterly awful her job prospects would be in a couple of years. We felt secure.

In computer terms, 2007 represented the Last Known Good. Whenever I’m feeling remotely happy, I find myself comparing that feeling to how I felt at peak moments in 2007.

This year was simply the best. Even with that vicious suicidal depression that nearly did me in late August/early September—well, it didn’t do me in, now, did it? I recognized that for what it was, and beat it.

Looking back, it was in what I overcame that really put points on the board. I suffered the expected writer’s block after getting my book contract in March, and again after Bleeding Kansas got printed. Then I found out that the first book I wrote, which was to be the second in the series, was too clunky and stupid to be adapted. I’d honestly thought I’d have the second book in the Dead Silencer series finished in two weeks. Instead, that first book I finished writing, which was to be the second book in my trilogy, turned out to be my third novel altogether. Which I’ll be lucky to finish in another two weeks—two weeks into 2014!

Terrible, huh? Not at all. I’m many times the writer I was when I started The Roiling River of Dead project in November 2011, or when I finished it in May 2012. I’m many times the writer I was when I finished writing Bleeding Kansas in May of 2013.

We may be at our lowest point financially, but for the first time since, oh, 2009, I am not afraid. I’m not counting on a job anymore to pay the bills. I’m confident in my abilities to make it work.

The solution to all my problems lies in my own ingenuity and time better spent planning and completing projects. I know I can do this now. This isn’t drunken bluster on a New Year’s Eve, it’s the knowledge I’ve acquired since November 2011 when I set out to finish writing a novel: I actually love writing. From brainstorming that concept, writing that first line, to posting pages on my door and attacking them with a Sharpie until there’s nothing left to take away—I’m talking pure bliss here. I’ll pick up my paperback author’s copy of Bleeding Kansas, open it to a page, and laugh. Not just because I’m good, but because I remember what it took to make it good. It was worth it, after all.

I take my leave to celebrate the passing of one good year, and to ring in an even better one. I’ve come this far; I won’t tolerate one step backward now.

Twenty-thirteen, thank you and good night. Twenty-fourteen, let’s take it up another bunch of notches.

Peace of mind and strength of heart to all who have read this far. Happy New Year!
All we needed was love. Who knew? On to the Next Thing, then.