I know I’m not the first one to say this, of course — 2017 was not fun, and for many people, that’s a monumental understatement. Personally, professionally, culturally, politically…this year was a godforsaken mess. I’m far less inclined to toast the year that was, but I’m quite ready to embrace the one coming down the pike, and I hope you are too.
So let’s start with the elephant in the room, which would be Trump and his coterie of destructive buffoons. I’m not going to go into his policies, or the rapacious GOP’s attempts to create a permanent, uneducated American underclass to serve the top 1%. But I know full well that the very presence of this looming threat to American values and democracy, and the utter barrage of weaponized fake outrage and falsehoods, has taken its toll on so many of us, myself included.
Now, let’s be quite clear in that I’m a straight, married, white male, so when I say “taken its toll,” the bill for me is extremely light compared to women, people of color, folks with chronic physical and/or mental conditions, our LBGTQ+ friends, etc. In fact, it feels slightly disingenuous to be bitching about things when my family and I are doing well, and may even see a tax cut next year.
But while my toll is far less, it’s there. 2017 has messed with my head. In so many areas of my life, I found myself waiting for something, waiting for change. Yes, I ramped up my contributions and I joined a protest at Trump Tower and I spoke out and all that good stuff. But the rest of it was kind of living in a defensive crouch in the corner, trying to go about my business and waiting, hoping, praying for the support to help all of us turn a corner.
I think that defensive crouch ultimately permeated everything I tried to do. Even writing my books, usually a solace and a happy place, really became tough. Like so many of the stories I’ve heard from fellow creators, everything was a struggle in 2017, from the political to the professional to the personal. I found myself simply trying to get by, waiting for the support and the change that I wanted, perhaps trying to deny that it was never going to be what I wanted. So the personal and professional challenges I faced this year were probably exacerbated by this.
This ain’t no way to live, of course. I’ve disappointed myself and others this year. And like it or not, the personal and professional challenges aren’t going away. They never do. Even if Trump resigns tomorrow, Mike Pence is right behind him in all his faux-Christian glory. Even if I get through the next project or manage the next life hurdle, there will be more coming. That’s just how it is, and 2018 will be no different. This sounds like a basic thing, of course, but sometimes we have to re-learn old lessons in life.
Now, I certainly hope 2018 is indeed better! Culturally and politically, I think we have a shot, and I’m hoping to unfold from my defensive crouch and become even more active to help turn the tide. Personally and professionally, I already know that 2018 will be a year of immense change, and I have some serious stuff to shoulder and run with. (No, nothing really book-related here. Remember, I have a day-job and a family, too!) And again, the defensive crouch and the waiting isn’t really going to help at all, so I’m gonna try really hard not to do that.
That’s not to say my 2017 was 100% horrible, and I remain incredibly fortunate in so many ways. Book-wise, MJ-12: Shadows came out in September and I turned in MJ-12: Endgame this year as well. That’s six novels in the can since 2013, and I’m still amazed at how lucky I am to be able to do this. I was also accepted to the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop in June, which inspired me so much that I’m now working on a new book project that…well, you’ll see. YOU’LL SEE.
My day-job was probably the busiest it’s been in my ten years there, but we did manage to rack up some successes and they remain pleased with my work. Personally, my daughter continues to grow up to be a kind, compassionate, artistic and funny young woman, and really, if I do nothing else in this life except support her in this, I will be a resounding success. My wife was able to go to so many cool places for her writing and her work, and I’m so very glad she was able to do that and continue to build on her immense talent as a writer. Just you wait until you see all the cool stuff she has cooking right now. Again, YOU’LL SEE.
While I usually do a “year in beer” wrap-up based on my Untappd account, I’m going simply fold it in here. I suppose it’s a good thing that I drank less in 2017 than the year prior. Given that there was so much crap in 2017, getting regularly ‘faced would’ve been almost acceptable. Over the past year, I had 137 unique beers, most of which remained new to me. I was on a bit of a cider kick, with 29 different ciders tried this year. Honestly, it really came down to not getting out to visit breweries, and also, I think, an instinctive aversion to trying to drown my sorrows.
Enough about last year. This coming year will see the release of MJ-12: Endgame in September, which finishes out my contract for that series, so I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next. I’m hoping to return to two favorite conventions that I had to pass on this year — Phoenix Comicon in May and DragonCon in Atlanta over Labor Day. While I had hoped there might be other cons for 2018, some of the other stuff coming down the pike for me and my family will likely keep my con schedule light.
Again, there will be changes aplenty this coming year. Some of them, of course, I’ll blog about. Others may be none of your damn business, as much as I love all my regular readers. I do have a new book project that I’m excited about, but since it’s not under contract, I’m not gonna jinx it by talking about it a lot here. And I admit, I’m really looking forward to writing it without being under the gun for a deadline. Six books in six years for a part-time author is, in retrospect, probably too much. A breather will be welcome.
I think 2017 was a shock to the system for many of us. I think there’s a natural inclination to kind of ball up, wait it out, hope for the best. I think 2018 could be rough for many of us, but I also think there will be opportunities as well. So personally, professional, politically, I hope to get out of the defensive crouch, open up, push forward and make the changes that need to be made.
Happy New Year, everyone. May it be a better one for all of us.