Flashback 2015

I’m a few weeks late for my annual review, but let’s face it. Annual reviews are rarely, if ever, punctual.

2015 was a good year for me. Possibly the best I’ve ever had, both as a writer and a proper person (which requires clarification since most writers are dream-chomping Cthulhuian spawn).

Why was it so great? Well, let’s start with the BIG, ~W I D E – A N G L E~ stuff and go from there–

THE WORLD

With seven billion people on this floating space rock we call a home, awful things are bound to happen. Shootings. Earthquakes. Gas leaks. Shootings. Stampedes. Climate change. Terror attacks… Did I mention shootings?

And, as long as there is evil in the world, news agencies will prioritize, report, and profit from proselytizing fear. Occasionally though, despite their best efforts, they cannot help but comment on a bit of good news–news about how the world isn’t all political trash and nightmare fodder.

On June 26, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of marriage equality.

equal marriage

Twitter. Facebook. Instagram. The Guardian. CNN. MSNBC. Yes, even FOX NEWS.  Everywhere I turned that day I saw inspiring images of love, liberty, and equality.

And what an epic day it was! Rarely have I felt such a pervasive feeling of triumph. The collective oppression of a centuries-long war finally came to an end. I will never forget the sheer joy I felt that morning as I embraced my partner and knew that everyone, regardless of who they loved, could now share what we had.

GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT

Since I’m on the topic—

At the ripe round age of 30, I fulfilled a childhood dream: I married a beautiful woman I met in Middle Earth.

S_TPeek6 copyI could write an entire post or three on the subject—on the wedding preparations, the stress-induced headaches, the marathon leading up to the sprint that was the wedding day—but there’s no good place to start. The important details include Gandalf, a Stormtrooper, a baby dragon, swords, and a whole lot of fun. Hiccups and all, I could not have planned a better day.

Six months beforehand, I had moved to Orange County, where I found a job working for my former professors in the Classics department. It’s yet another career move, finally graduating from small businesses to—if not big “business” in the traditional sense—a large and economically sound institution. I like being back on campus, though more than the buildings have changed in the intervening years.

MEDITATION

After moving and failing to find a new place to practice my karate chops, I made an effort to start meditating as an alternative form of mental discipline. For the last six months I’ve been meditating for 20 minutes in the morning. I haven’t reached Nirvana, but it’s a great way to wake up, welcome the day, and do a few focus reps with the ol’ mind meat.

TRAVEL LOG

Last year didn’t top my travel log for 2014, but I still managed to wander afield from my comfy hobbit hole.

Minnesota – I celebrated the start of 2015 with indoor icicles and subzero temperatures in Minnesota. Not exactly my first choice of midwinter travel destinations, but it certainly gave me a new respect for the people who lived there before the widespread advent of central heating.

Las Vegas – Although I’ve driven through Las Vegas more times than I can recall, it wasn’t until last year that I actually stayed in the city proper and experienced a taste of what the infamous Sin City has to offer. I’d elaborate, but you know how the saying goes.

Lightning in a Bottle – Following up my inaugural experience the previous year, I returned to the “Burning Man Lite” of music and arts festivals for an encore. This time I was much better prepared which, along with the company of a few close friends, made it all the more memorable.

Utah – For the first time in six years, I returned to my native state for a friend’s wedding, driving from Los Angeles to Salt Lake and back in 48 hours.

‘The Hideout’ (NOT in Marin County, CA) – I traveled to a less-frequented region of the bay area in California for a friend’s wedding only to find out that the venue was nowhere near Marin. Nevertheless, it was a relaxing getaway amid the premarital stress of my own wedding.

New York City – Nine years after my first visit, I returned to the crowded, over-heated streets of Manhattan. Back when I was 20 I wanted to move there. This time, good Art and great food aside, I was relieved to return to the less-crowded streets of LA.

OTHER COOL SHIT

A few other noteworthy events from 2015 include:

My first GoRuck Challenge, a twelve-hour grind of pain, perseverance, and self-evaluation.

Meeting Patrick Rothfuss (for a second time) and managing, somehow, to keep my cool.

Seeing Jerry Seinfeld perform at the Pantages.

My discovery of podcasts, which have become my primary means of audio stimulation (If you have not listened to “Hello from the Magic Tavern,” your life is incomplete).

TieAnd, of course, STAR WARS. *pew pew* *beep beep boop* *BbbZzzZzzz* *woooosh* (after which I literally bumped into Jim Butcher and, after dismissing the possibility that it was him, said nothing /facepalm).

WRITING

They say that a key element of success as a writer is to read (‘they’ being the grand council of master ink-slingers and book lords). If my calculations are correct, I read 45 books last year. Not my best, but still enough to cause a minor case of scoliosis. I’ll write more about my favorites in another post, but a major highlight for me was seeing a publisher reblog a review I wrote for one of their books. It’s not exactly publication, but it’s a slice of external validation nonetheless.

As for my writing, which is what this blog is really all about, 2015 was a landmark–the year I adopted the attitude of a professional.

Fueled by self-inflicted dissatisfaction with my progress, I resolved to start and finish a book or give up the idea of ever being a legitimate writer.

At the beginning of January I woke up every morning at 5am and wrote until I hit a daily word count. With a few exceptions, I did this consistently for six and a half months until I finished the first draft of a 220,000-word novel. The experience taught me a lot, not the least of which is the importance of habitual perseverance in the face of perpetual self-doubt.

In addition to writing every day, I went back to school. I watched Brandon Sanderson’s lecture series and took notes. I listened to over 400 episodes of the Hugo award-winning podcast Writing Excuses. I completed an online workshop with New York Times Bestselling author David Farland. I read books on craft by some of the best writers in Sci Fi and Fantasy. And I studied the industry, learned about agents, editors, publishers and imprints, and began to comprehend everything required to be a successful author.

Like Frodo arriving in Rivendale, I’ve come a long way, but I’m only now beginning to grasp the true extent of my quest. But I’m committed. I have a path. And come what may, be it Nazgul or a dwarven mine of skittering rejection slips, I’ll get there.

You’ll see.

(Featured image credit: Android Jones)

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