I’m crawling out from my cave to stretch my limbs and reflect on the year. And what a year, guys. It was long, for sure, but so much happened. My God, so much happened.
2015 was supposed to be my so-called “Year of Getting Shit Done,” and I think I did, but not in the ways I expected, or in some cases, wanted to. Remember the Whiteboard of Woe? Yeah, it was outlined with all sorts of goals, broken down by quarter. Several goals were met—admittedly the easier ones—and several were put aside due to more immediate concerns. Namely, buying a house. Yeah, that happened.
Erica and I started the year with a goal of finding a new home. We’d lived in our apartment for nine years, and after a number of headaches (change in management, shitty neighbors, and stolen mail to name a few), we finally had enough. We started looking in January, found a place in March, and bought said place in May. Buying this house was simultaneously one of the most stressful and most rewarding things I’ve ever done.
Naturally this focus meant putting other things aside. I’ll come back to that in a minute.
What else happened this year? Let’s see . . .
- Precipice had three releases: ULT: Volume One, ULT #5: The Other Land Express, and ULT #6: House of Nettle and Thorn. I put the series on hold after this so I could focus on other projects.
- I contributed an essay to Writer’s Bloc. I also contributed an essay to Crystal Lake Publishing’s Writers on Writing: Volume One. I’m extremely proud of that one.
- Much progress was made on my project with Anthony Rapino. We’re almost finished, and expect to have an announcement for you sometime in Spring 2016. I don’t have any pertinent images to add here, so instead I’ll just include this image of Tony as the Love Train.
- I started drawing again, resulting in a number of “Monochrome” portraits. Some turned out better than others; I want to take another crack at Donna Candle and Albert Sparrow (especially the latter—he looks too much like Walter White).
- Buying the house afforded us more living space, so one of my first orders of business was rebuilding my book collection. I’ve purchased more physical books this year than eBooks. My collection has significantly more horror than before, and it’s better for it. My most recent acquisition was this unexpected ARC of Joe Hill’s N0S4A2:
- I dug a hole in my back yard and built a patio. This may or may not be my cover story for the bodies I buried there.
- We adopted a pair of cats from the local Humane Society. They’re named Lear and Balthasar. They’re a couple of moody assholes, but we love them anyway.
- Erica and I got to hang out with Tony and Karah a couple of times at the Mahoning Drive-In—first for Camp Blood, and again for a double-feature of Evil Dead 2 and Night of the Living Dead. It was a lot of fun, and I hope we get to do it again next year.
- The Geeky Writer Gang had several wonderfully awkward broadcasts. Eryk, Tony, Mercedes: I love you guys.
Many of you are probably wondering why I haven’t mentioned a certain book I was supposed to be working on. Yeah, about that. It’s one of the things I put aside (again), mostly out of frustration. There were several coaching sessions with Amelia, many venting sessions with Mercedes and Tony and Nikki, and a lot of wordless nights.
If you’ve ever had the wind knocked out of you, you know those few panicked seconds afterward where you’re trying to breathe but can’t. My issue with the final Monochrome novel is a lot like that. I want to write it, but the story isn’t coming. I’ve never had this problem with a story before—especially one so close to me—so I’ve spent most of my “off time” trying to work out different ways to approach the groundwork I’ve set for myself. In the old days, I’d sit down and just write, letting the story come on its own. That’s how I’ve always done it. I can’t do that with Book 3 because there’s a lot of ground to cover and story to wrap up.
So . . . a few weeks ago I read this interview with Joe Hill about the struggles he went through after Heart-Shaped Box was published. The bit about him writing by hand reminded me of something I’d forgotten: I used to do that, too. Most of ALT was written that way. Parts of TLM’s first draft were, too. In light of that, I’ve decided to get back to basics and stick with longhand for a while, to see if that makes a difference. I hope it will.
That’s my goal for 2016, folks. Write as much of Book 3 as I can, with a few shorts scattered here or there when I need a break. I’m at my happiest when I’m telling stories, and I need to get back to doing that. Because if you aren’t happy, what’s the point?
And on that note, my friends, I’m going to wish you all a Happy New Year. Lift your glass and drink deeply of 2015’s successes and follies. Revel in what you accomplished, and learn from what you did not.
Catch you all on the flipside.
P.S. While proofing this, Zach (aka Z-Dubbz) from The Mouths of Madness tagged me on Twitter with a link to his year-end “Best Of” list. He named UGLY LITTLE THINGS: VOLUME ONE his #1 Short Story/Novella collection of the year. I’m fucking honored, dude. Thank you so much.