Monday, January 2, 2017

2016: Year In Review

To (badly) translate a line of Russian poetry, the longer we live the shorter the years. It seems only yesterday everyone in my social circle was toasting the end of the horribleness that was 2015. And here I was, all of last week, wading through post after post about 2016 being The Worst Year Ever. The proper response, even from those of us willing for the moment to ignore history, is not to tempt fate, for the same reason that it's a bad idea to ask "What's the worst that can happen?" (Answer: "Let's not find out.") My general attitude towards New Year celebrations is the same as towards birthdays: "Yay! I made it another year. Cool." No more, no less.

Not that there is anything wrong with acknowledging milestones, or with using a specific date, whatever it happens to be, as an excuse to look back, re-assess, and make decisions for the future. And so it is in that spirit that I offer my version of 2016: Year in Review.

Personal News:

I would say my oldest getting into the college of his choice was probably the biggest even in my life. Sending him off to live on his own was much harder than I thought, and although he has come to visit since, and might move closer to home after graduation the separation is irreversible. He is now his own man, making his own choices on a day to day basis. No matter how connected we are, how accepting he is (so far) of our advice, or how ready we are to step in and help should he need us, the relationship has changed. It's a good thing, and a necessary process, but it's also on the scary side, at least for me as a parent. The young tend to be fearless, and that's also how it should be.

Creative News:

2016 has been an amazing year for me in that respect. In January, I published my first novel, Chasing Freedom, which was nominated for a Dragon Award in the summer. I didn't win, but the thought of having enough fans to even have my name mentioned among some many wonderfully talented authors was a mind-blowing experience.

Sometime over the summer, I also had the privilege to get connected with the fine folks at SuperversiveSF and to have my novella The Product picked up by their newly created publishing division (Superversive Press). It was a very different experience from doing it alone, and I learned a lot from going through the process. I also got to work with a professional editor, who not only helped make my story better, but also gave me some pointers on writing that I am using even now while working on completely new material.

Finally, the long-awaited Freedom's Light Anthology, which includes one of my stories, has come together late in 2016 and is available for pre-order.

All in all, from creative standpoint, 2016 has not only been my best year, it just might remain my best year ever, for the simple reason that I write very slowly and putting out two titles in one year was somewhat of a lucky coincidence. But, of course, one never knows.

General/Cultural News:

Aside from the country dodging a massive pantsuit-shaped bullet, there have been some exciting developments for freedom lovers. Mainstream media continues its steady march to irrelevancy. There is serious pushback against social media censorship, most notably with introduction of as an alternative to Twitter and increase in the number of other options. Milo continues to take his fight against runaway political correctness to college campuses. Self-publishing and small publishing houses provide opportunities for more non-conforming writers to make their voices heard. Dragon Awards have emerged as an alternative to the SJW-dominated Hugos, providing recognition to deserving authors for telling good stories without regard for PC requirements. While this is not an invitation for us to sit back and stop fighting, I think we could pause for a moment and reflect on how much has been accomplished before we jump back into the fray.

Not that 2016 was all sunshine and flowers. There was too much strife, too many friends lost or alienated, too many bonds broken. Still, sometimes it's good to find out which of your friends will stick around through disagreements, which cultural and political figures are truly worthy of your respect, and which of your ideas withstand being challenged. I have learned a lot this past year, and am looking forward to an even more interesting and exciting (but hopefully less nerve wrecking) 2017.


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