Another year has ticked over, and while this traditionally means a “year in review” kind of post, I did want to start off first with the news that I just had a new story come out in the December issue of Three-Lobed Burning Eye called, “A Selection of Tissues.”
A while back I resolved to stop writing such overtly sad stories anymore. For many obvious reasons, I found I increasingly didn’t want to read or watch sad stuff, and even my default musical taste was shifting into more energetic/angry territory, so why was I still opting for writing such fictional gut punches? Sure, I suffered from depression for a really, really long time, and up until a few years ago, various health issues meant I was dealing with a good deal of physical suffering on top of that. But I always struggled with the disconnect that, if you met me, I’m actually quite sunny, funny and optimistic. So why the hell wasn’t I channeling that part of me into my fiction, too?
It’s funny that my stories published this year represent both the nadir of my physical and mental health, and the fruit of that resolve to write more feel-good stuff. “A Small Turn of the Ladder,” which appeared in the May/June 2021 issue of Analog, I first wrote six years ago in the midst of yet another gut infection and years-long colitis flare, while “A Selection of Tissues” I wrote a few months after the start of the pandemic, after the initial existential paralysis had let up a bit. It turns out, dealing for years with a disease that, given unluckier circumstances, could have easily killed me gave me some pretty good mortality scare coping tools. So I was able to turn my early pandemic frustration as a high-risk person not being able to find any toilet paper, a month’s-long battle that summer against an ant infestation of my bathroom, and my love of all things microbiome and human anatomy, into a weird, but sweet little story about someone remaking themself into the person they want to be. (Also, many thanks to Dr. Tami Lieberman at MIT for all her help with the skin microbiome references).
You can read (or listen to me read!) that story here.
I was also able to get quite a bit of other new writing and editing done this year, including the completion of a brand new novelette, as well as an editorial and the first three installments of a new essay series for Asimov’s Magazine called, “Speculative Screencraft.” I’m excited about this one, as I’ll be writing about science fiction movies, and the first two installments, coming later in 2022, will be about George Méliès’ 1902 short film, A Trip to the Moon, and the history of fictional portrayals of the Moon; and the 1931 Universal Pictures Frankenstein and the history of horror and monsters in fiction.
Between getting vaccinated at the start of 2021, and my recent resuming of hermiting, despite being recently boosted, until a bit more is known about how high risk I’ll be against Omicron, I got to do quite a bit of living. My band got to play our first show in three years, I got to see a dozen live shows (including an absolute stunner by Alanis Morisette and Garbage, and the best show I saw all year by CHVRCHES in support of their fantastic new album Screen Violence), went on a few trips, mostly to different SoCal locations (Indio, Big Bear, Anza Borrego, East Jesus, LA, and Catalina), as well as one long trip to see family in Chicago, finished gauging my ears (which I’ve always wanted to do), started a new tattoo, got a day job promotion, and caught up on a lot of overdue socializing, all while avoiding to get COVID, so hooray for that.
This year I’m planning on finishing a novel draft and a handful of new short stories, writing a few more essays, and, depending on how the pandemic looks, head up to the Pacific Northwest to see friends and attend the Rainforest Writer’s Retreat, visit Chicago, and go to Portugal for a dear friend’s wedding this summer, which will also coincide with my 40th birthday.
I hope your 2022 is healthy and happy, and that Omicron represents the last phase of this pandemic in which COVID completes its transformation into yet another minor seasonal cold.