This year was a lot. And not all in a bad way as things opened up and it felt safer to go out and about and be with other people. I was able to travel for the first time in over two years to visit friends and family. I did two conventions this year and am doing another in January. I saw movies in theatres and dined in at restaurants. I saw shows and went to events that had people there from outside our pandemic bubble. As others have eloquently said before me, all this socializing felt like exercising a muscle that had fallen into disuse, and as nerve-wracking as it was determining what was safe to do with reasonable precautions, I’m glad I was able to do these things that I enjoyed and made me feel more connected to the larger community.
But there were downsides as well. Despite being vaxxed and boosted, we finally got Covid at the start of summer break after our daughter was exposed on the last day of school. A good friend from college was struck and killed by a driver while riding his bike with his family. A drunk driver crashed into our fence with a stolen car, and we simply haven’t had the time or energy to repair it. And I haven’t even gotten to the writing piece yet.
Then I got surprise pneumonia in early November. We are still not sure how, but what we do know is the antibiotics I was put on burned the lining of my esophagus and stomach. Navigating the health system in New Mexico can be difficult at the best of times and after two years of accumulated pressure from Covid plus the combo of flu and RSV this year, it was even worse. It didn’t help that my symptoms mimic those of a heart attack, which have risen exponentially thanks to Covid, so that added a new dimension of panic and anxiety to an already fraught process. The good news is, after three trips to the ER and an endoscopy, I’m fine and have a plan to manage all this now. But getting to this point, and knowing there are so many others out there who are in worse shape and/or face steeper hurdles in our medical system while the tripledemic rages on, well, it’s a lot.
Writing-wise, things this year felt a bit like a reset in a lot of ways. I wrote and submitted more short stories in 2022 than I have in years. I’m proud of both stories that came out in Third Flatiron’s After the Gold Rush anthology and Rooster Republic’s Chromophobia: A Strangehouse Anthology by Women in Horror for different reasons. “The Front of the Pack” in After the Gold Rush is a flash piece, which is a length I’ve always struggled with. “Gray Rock Method” in Chromophobia is my first foray into horror, which was a fun way to dip my toe into the genre. I have more short fiction forthcoming in 2023 and other stories I hope will be picked up soon—hope springs eternal!
Some really great in-the-trenches things happened this year as well, but they are the kind of thing that only I can say, “Hey, this is a real milestone,” even when it doesn’t manifest into something tangible I can point to on a bookshelf or a table of contents somewhere. So I’m forced to come back to the iceberg metaphor and how so much of the creative life is sublimated, rendered invisible to outside eyes, and that we only have ourselves to accurately measure our progress, and to not let that metric get corrupted by outside influences.
I’ve done a lot of that work this year, and I think the results of having two new book ideas start to take shape are evidence of that. This year I also discovered there’s still life in some of my older projects that I’ve sweated and grieved over not finding a wider audience. I can’t tell you how affirming that is to know that sometimes it isn’t you or your work, but the capricious luck in finding the right moment, the right call, the right person instead. Some things can only be learned by going through them and persevering. And I plan to persevere all the way through 2023 as well.
I hope you’ll join me!