Friday, December 31, 2010

My 2010: good, bad, and learning opportunities

Last night I started to mull my 2010, and what I kept thinking was, "Blimey, was that this year??" So much of it seems to have happened an aeon ago. Or at least a billennium. So I thought I'd share some of those things with you. They seem to fall naturally into three categories: satisfying/good; traumatic/miserable; and lessons I've (re)learnt for the umpteenth time/eye-rolling.

So, here are some of the things I remember with pleasure:

  • Getting nominated for the Locus and Hugo awards for the first story I've written in a decade. Wow, the Hugo award. Very cool!
  • Coming up with Lambda Literary, the new online home of the Lambda Literary Foundation. That site now gets 60k plus unique visitors a month. It's the nexus of all things queer in the literary landscape. We deserve it. The people I worked with rock. I am pleased and proud.
  • Speaking of LLF, I taught the fiction workshop for the Emerging Voices writers' retreat and was gladdened and heartened by the talent and generosity of every single Fellow. Go check out their blogs (see the right sidebar).
  • Kelley and I made some new friends this year. I don't mean acquaintances, or colleagues, but friends. I find that as I learn more about myself and the world, real friendship becomes increasingly rare and precious.
  • Speaking of getting older and wiser (and, in Kelley's case, more gorgeous), we celebrated our 50th birthdays with a ten-day jubilee. It was so good I don't think I'd survive doing it more than once a decade.
  • I got to play with a sabre (and soon will learn the proper technique for using a sword to slash open Champagne--I'll report on that next year).
  • I have almost finished Hild. (750 pages and counting.) I've been having a marvellous time living in the 7th century and learning/inventing a whole slew of new narrative techniques. I love a writing challenge. I love breaking the rules to a purpose.
  • And before I stop with the Unmitigated Awesome bits of the year, I want to mention two authors new to me: Peter O'Donnell and his Modesty Blaise books, and David Stone and his Micah Dalton novels. Fabulous and preposterous adventure series. I'll be talking more about them in a month or two. Meanwhile, go read some.

But 2010 wasn't perfect because, hey, there's no such thing as perfection for living breathing people. I had three main lows this year:

  • I had family difficulties (which aren't appropriate to discuss here--it's not my story, after all), some of it awful, but right now things have reached a momentary balance point and I have my fingers crossed that we'll all survive until this time next year.
  • For the first time in years MS rose up and savaged me. It's made me cross. Grump grump. I'm still not quite right, but I'm hoping the worst is past.
  • And speaking of MS, what made me deeply angry this year was the thoughtlessness (and willful ignorance and stubborn refusal to listen) of some organisations, individuals and convention-runners regarding physical access. I've put up with this crap for years. My preferred mode has always been patience and education, but I've reached my tipping point. So I'm serving notice here: next time someone refuses to listen or to try make it right, I'm going to get very loud and name names.

I can forgive most people most things once. Especially if it's a genuine mistake. It's the refusal to learn and adapt that pisses me off, the refusal to accept even a modicum of inconvenience. So it seems only fair I end with the three lessons I've had to relearn, again, this year.

  • I'm great at collaborative projects as long as I'm in charge. I'm a despot at heart--a benevolent one, yes, but most definitely not a cog in the collective machine. I'm really, really good at making shit happen--as long as I'm leading that effort. If I wasn't such a wuss I'd tattoo it on my forehead and save everyone a lot of grief next year.
  • Shit happens. I need to expect that and built empty space into my schedule to accommodate it. Two things that happened this year: my health took a serious dive and there was all that family stress I mentioned earlier, involving several nights of tracking available flights to the UK for rescue and/or funerals. But because I had selfishly taken on so many projects that my calendar was filled wall to wall--literally every hour planned and scheduled--everything broke. I had to back out of several professional (and personal) committments, and got horribly behind on others. Note to self: build gaps in the schedule; they will get filled.
  • At social events, when a fellow guest says, "How do you know our lovely host/what brings you to this event?" s/he doesn't mean what I mean by it. If I said it, I'd mean, "Hey, tell me an interesting story about how and why you're here, so we can begin a cool conversation and find out if we like each other." No, what most people in these situations seem to mean is, "Explain to me in fifty words or less why I should bother standing here with you when someone far more interesting and good for my career might walk in that door any second." Or sometimes, especially if they're writers or other artists, "Let's see who can pee highest up the wall." They trot out deadlines met, tax problems resulting from their bestsellers, how they had to turn down Oprah. Me, I just want to talk about how cool the seventh century is, ask them where they find their joy, or admire some woman's, er, dress. I forget that events bring out the insecure and needy children in many of us. But, eh, I wouldn't want to behave any differently. I just want to be ready next time someone walks away in the middle of my second sentence; I want to not feel the urge to get armoured up for the next conversation. I want to continue to assume good intent.

So, hey, okay, I've come up with my goal for 2011: that we all assume good intent. Trust me, it will make the world better. Other goals are numerous. You've seen the To Do list that ate the world already. Oooh, must must remember to go add gaps...

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