Whiskey, Women, & Blackguardin’

(A version of this showed up in my email newsletter)

As the kids say, let’s jam.

2018 has been weird, rough, tough, but also tumultuous in a good way. The news is full of garbage, but at the same time there are bright spots. I got married, which was definitely a party. I went to Iceland and Greece, one of which was new, and the other familiar.

Also, I got a bunch of stuff written;

  • There’s a lot of semi-regular nonfiction and miscellanea at the blog, which is still the primary look into my head and whatever I’m reading/thinking about/doing.
  • I hit 100 on the email newsletter, which I’m unnaturally proud of.
  • The Means At Hand went live, something I’m proud of putting together and trying to keep going, which feels like…not a job, but interesting schoolwork.
  • I wrote and put Some Girls Wander: Two Short Stories out. I haven’t been doing a lot of fiction this past year, so I’m glad this is coming together.

I didn’t do as much writing and publishing and submitting as I wanted to (planning a wedding and a lot of teaching and travel and learning how to relax has clashed with that), but at the same time, I did do a lot of writing that meant a lot to me, and anything out there that people read is counted as a victory as far as I’m concerned.

Doing The Means At Hand has been a singular long-running project that I put a lot of energy into and want to push far along, and I’m very proud of it so far. I wish there was more there (I know I promised that there’d be one more post for 2018 in there but I just don’t have the brainpower to get to it right now so my analysis of John Le Carre is going to have to wait, sorry), but what is there feels good to be able to show off as a basic idea. Also, I try not to stress myself out about “how much” gets written, because so much of that pressure is tied into whether or not I’m doing anything of “worth” in the world, which honestly, is a bullshit train of thought.

Write whatever, whenever. The only rules for writing that matter is that it has to be available for someone other than you to see it, and it has to be yours. “Voice” and anything like that is secondary to material itself. I know that “writing rules” are things that get discussed once in a while, and while I do love Elmore Leonard’s rules for writing and adore Stephen King’s book On Writing, rules about how to do things like write, which are odd combinations of art, craft, black magic, and self-flagellation, are mostly junk.

It’s so odd to see the field treated like a code that can be cracked, like a line that can be jumped if you just know this one certain thing, this one unique trick. There are no tricks, sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. I did the math recently about how many free downloads I’ve given away, added that up to how many books I’ve sold digitally, and then added that to the traffic I get to my blog and that I’ve gotten from getting work published outside my own avenues with other sites and outlets…and it’s OK? And the sad part is that “OK” is better than any focus I got from making and self-publishing comics. Blogging and nonfiction and prose might be a hard wasteland, but it’s better than the actively-hunting-you jungle that is comics.

And yet, I’m also a writing teacher. I should be writing more, I feel, I should have more published material to show for it, at least that’s what my brain says. That of course is also tied into academic imposter syndrome, to the feelings of inadequacy surrounding an academic career, all that. Then the other days I look back at the material I’ve done and what’s out there by me, and tell myself “You know what? I’ve done OK.”

I did OK in 2018. I hope you look back and realize that this year, you did OK too.

That’s it, this is probably the last work I’m writing for the year. Enjoy your holidays, enjoy little things and big things, don’t be ashamed or afraid to feel joy.

Stay sharp, stay proud, stay hungry, stay defiant. See you next year.

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