2013 & the Wake of Change

My year’s end thoughts tend to be heavy on things read or watched in the course of the year, new work done, or goals for the coming year. 2012 was a sea change for me on many fronts, and I count just getting through it a victory, even when the swells and waves were good things. What happened?

My mother-in-law passed away after a long battle with cancer. There were multiple concurrent serious family illnesses. There were trips to see my wife’s family and deal with my mother-in-law’s death. All of those took time and energy, and those of you who have been through it know how sad and draining the death of a parent is.

Yard Devastation

Yard Devastation

We bought a house and moved into it in November. It’s a wonderful little mid-century Cape Cod with nooks and crannies, room to garden, and is spacious on various counts. We’ve been doing all sorts of work on it, as well as being not yet fully unpacked, but here’s a picture of part of the remnants of the work my wife, father-in-law and I did toward the end of last week. RIP. I hated doing it, but the row of a dozen or so pine trees lining the street had been badly topped and were growing (and always going to be growing) into the telephone and power lines. I never expected to spend any substantial amount of time in life using a chainsaw, and yet.

Life was busy at the library as well, with some major changes in our systems, some personnel changes, and several kinds of new work. My “business” as a liaison to humanities departments grew in interesting ways, and 2013 promises to be busy in that regard as well. I also traveled to Anaheim for the annual American Library Association conference, which was illuminating and exciting, especially the digital humanities preconference I attended.

Fungi Cover

Fungi Cover

My writing life was mixed in 2012. Productivity-wise, I started and floundered on many stories, a novella, and a novel.  By year’s end, I’d completed a bare handful of flash and short stories, though I’m working on something that I hope will turn into a new novel. Publication-wise, I did OK, with one story at NewMyths.com and another in the hardcover edition of the anthology Fungi. I’m still on the hunt for representation for my novel focused on conflicts of memory, ecology, and inheritance in the Pacific Northwest. Here’s hoping 2013 will hold enough peace and stability for me to refocus my efforts on new writing.

Figure Study

Figure Study

One of the unmitigated pleasures of last year was the painting and drawing. I took two drawing classes at VisArts, taught by local artist Tommy Van Auken, and I began irregularly attending a life drawing group. I’ve done some painting during the last year, though my focus has mostly been on improving my drawing skills. I’ve done a mound of work and enjoyed it, with the end results ranging across the spectrum from “useful only for learning” to surprisingly good, at least to judge by viewers’ reactions. I have enjoyed the arts in past–drawing, painting, sculpting, singing, playing instruments–but something about this year’s work was transformative, and I was grateful to have brushes to hand, especially when the words did not come. Here’s the last painting I completed in 2012, which combined a variety of things I learned over the course of the year, as well as helping me figure out what I want to do in the coming year.

What do I have in mind for 2013? Adventure, good work, success, and happiness. I have a plethora of more specific goals, but that’s enough for the Nutshell Edition. Here’s wishing you all the best for 2013.

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