rounding out 2012, and looking ahead

Picaflor estudiando

I’ve spent some time mapping out goals for 2013?and realizing that I already need to scale back a good bit. There’s only so much one person can do in a year, with or without a debilitating chronic illness. But before I start drawing up actual schedules and action plans for the oh-so-productive year to come, I figured I should spend some time honoring the year that is nearly past.

I don’t want to use this space to dwell on the host of very bad things that happened this year. There will be plenty of news outlets, blogs, radio hosts and other editorials to remind us all of the horrors of 2012?and I don’t care to wallow in tragedy without a plan for changing it.

For me, 2012 wasn’t the best year on record personally or professionally, but when I sit down to think about it I can see that there were some surprisingly positive moments and accomplishments. I was again pretty sick this year, and that prevented me from doing an awful lot that I had wanted and even planned to do. My aunt Louise died suddenly, my uncle had a forced move, and my mother has been diagnosed with cancer.

But I joined the Northwest Independent Writers Association (NIWA) this year. I went again to ORYCON in the fall, where I reconnected with Launch Pad buddies K.C. Ball and Deborah J. Ross?and where I met other friendly writers like Sara A. Mueller, David Goldman, and Ken Scholes. As part of NIWA, I participated in a con dealer’s table for the first time ever, and even managed to sell a few books.

My youngest sister adopted a baby girl in February, and my next-in-age sister brought my nephews to visit Oregon from the East Coast in June. Mike’s nephew visited with us in March, and Mike himself had a couple of weeks in Israel on business at the end of the year.

I got to play beta reader for a few writer friends, and I started making monthly author appearances?reading my own work aloud?with Authors in Pubs in June. For January 2013, I’m even the featured author!

For the Oregonian, I interviewed another dozen couples for the Northwest Love Stories series and learned something valuable from each and every one of them. I am extremely grateful that I lucked into writing this continuing series, largely because of the wonderful people I get to meet and the touching stories from their lives together that they share with me. It is truly my honor.

Mike and I even went hiking around Trout Lake with one of these couples?a pair of 90-year-olds who pretty much left us and our dogs in their dust. I also wrote a number of one-off stories for the newspaper, had a story on Pagans in the U.S. military appear on the new Religion & Politics publication website, and wrote some back jacket text for new publisher Crimson Romance.

While my health was largely problematic this year?I was extremely frustrated and shaken to have to bow out of a volunteer tech writing position with OPB early in the year, thanks to Dysautonomia and medication side effects (and my blog schedule fell apart)?I was able to go to the Oregon Star Party in the high desert in Eastern Oregon. That was actually nothing short of miraculous. And, I’ve made an appointment for myself at the Mitral Valve Prolapse Center in Alabama for late February 2013.

I still wasn’t able to find homes for the religious diversity stories resulting from my IRP fellowship time in Ireland. I am frustrated, disappointed and even embarrassed by this, but this is just how it goes sometimes in journalism. On the advice of lay people and media pros alike, I’m instead looking into putting this material together into a book?which actually might be a better format for these stories, given how many different faith traditions I dug into while I was there. I don’t promise that such a volume will be forthcoming in 2013, but I’ll at least be planning it.

2012 may also have been the year of knitting adventures. I knitted several shawls, cabled arm warmers, all kinds of hats, a couple of vests and even a dress. I’ve become a regular over on Ravelry.

National Novel Writing Month came and went again, and I’ve got another completed first draft to show for it?the third volume in the Valhalla series no less. I have to say that this particular first draft is probably the messiest and most “notes-to-self” laden that I’ve ever written, but revising (in several rounds) and publishing this book is on the agenda for 2013.

Speaking of Valhalla, I finally released the second book in this series. Iduna’s Apples was added to Amazon’s Kindle offerings on 18 December?just in time for the end of 2012 and possibly even the end of the world, according to Mayan calendar alarmists. I spent that week repeating the phrase, “Ragnarok is nigh!”?and got the idea to pen a tongue-in-cheek “survival guide to Ragnarok,” another addition to potential projects for 2013. And while Valhalla has been read?or downloaded, at least?in multiple countries outside the U.S., the last weekend of the year saw the first two non-U.S. sales of Iduna’s Apples, not even two weeks after its release and with little to no marketing. That makes me very happy.

I don’t expect too many people will have read this far. These are milestones that have been important to me, after all, and I hope that you have you own long list of good for 2012.

About 12 years ago, I started ending each day with a “good things today list”?challenging myself to count out at least 10 things that I was grateful for in that moment, even on the worst days.

For 2013, I’m thinking of starting a “good things box”?just writing down especially good happenings on pieces of paper and placing them inside an old shoe box. Then at the end of the year, I look forward to reviewing the contents to remind myself of all of the good and the constructive flow of the year just ending.

Creative Commons photo by Rinaldo W.

Posted in thoughts from the spiral, writing & publishing.

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