It’s all over but the shaking.

Yes, the shaking. Back when I was a young pilot in Alaska, so new eggshell was still stuck behind my ears, I got myself into a situation that I just barely had enough skill to get myself out of. (Luck played an important part in that, and the grace of G-d, as well as training.)

After the airplane was no longer trying to become one with the most firma terra, after I’d flown home, after the airplane was parked and tied down (for the elements and the machine will never stop trying to kill you, until the flight is fully finished), I sat down and shook. For almost an hour.

Later, when talking to a mentor who’s been there and done that has worn out the stack of t-shirts, I was rather shamefaced and chagrined at the whole thing – and quite embarrassed at shaking like the last leaf still stuck on a tree in an artic gale ripping through the pass at over a hundred knots. And he said, very gently, “It’s all right to shake, after it’s over. It’s normal. It’s… everybody does that, girl. The key is – after it’s over. Do what you have to do, and then shake and scream and cry and cuss afterwards. Nobody who’s been there is going to look down on you for that.”

So… 2019. Yeah, it’s pretty much all over but the shaking, the after-action review, and the paperwork. Speaking of, 4th quarter taxes are due on Jan 15.

It’s been an interesting year, on this end: I spent most of it recovering from my lungs doing their level best to end me. Even now, as cedar pollen is filling the air like wave after wave of foul allergenic poison blanketing the great state of Texas, I’m aware that I’m far, far better than I was this time last year. Peter’s had several issues of his own, including another heart attack, but we’ve coped with black humour, love, sarcasm, and budgeting for running out the deductible on the insurance again.

(Those of you who are certain you’re going to be shot, blown up, knifed, or otherwise Epsteined before 35, take care of yourself anyway. If you survive against all odds, your body holds grudges!)

On the one hand, I didn’t get anything published this year. On the other hand, I did get well enough to complete one story this year – it’s not up to publication, but it got written anyway, in a fit of stubbornness and “got to crawl before I can walk. No refusing to crawl just because it’s not up to my standards of walking.” And I did get a couple blurbs written, before cedar pollen starting taking down my brain again.

As for Peter – he may not have gotten the four milsf novels he wanted written and published this year, but he did write a stand-alone sword and sandal fantasy in a middle east where Muhammad never existed (Taghri’s prize). Also, he got the rights back to the westerns, got the series republished, and wrote and published two new westerns (Gold on the Hoof) and (River of Horns).

On short story front, in August Peter had a story in Tom Kratman’s Carerraverse anthology (Terranova), and earlier this month, he had a story published in James Young’s alternate history anthology (Trouble in the Wind).

So, three novels, and two military short stories out – not bad! And next year, Peter plans to take this year, and build on it, getting more than twice the stories out.

Things we have learned this year, or had reinforced:

1.) Note that all of those stories were published in the second half of the year. (Not necessarily written then, due to lead time, but published then.) If you’re planning on freelancing without a day job, just like farming, make sure your budget can cope all year despite highly uneven and staggered timeline for income.

2.) While it is best to write and release regularly in your main series, in reality, write and release what you can. If all you can handle is a stand-alone, write the stand-alone. If your wife brought the travel laptop to your durance vile in the hospital and it only has the Western WIP, write the western. If you know it’s not up to snuff, but you can’t get there from here, write it anyway. Some things get better by doing, and you can’t edit what’s not written.

3.) Celebrate what you’ve got, instead of winding yourself into knots over what you haven’t got. We may not have the books written we wanted, but I’ve still got Peter, and he’s still got me. Given the number of times this outcome has been in doubt, I’m very grateful, and take the opportunity to frequently tell him I love him.

I know that probably sounds terribly sappy, but you know what? Things can be replaced, people can’t. Take time away from the grind and enjoy them while they – and you – are here. No amount of book sales, of money can buy another afternoon of Ted showing up at the shop door, spare motorcycle helmet in hand, asking if I want to head out for a ride and see if the back seat on this bike will be comfortable enough for his wife, or another picture from Shaun showing off the latest thing he saw while flying the beaches, or another hilarious look on Bill’s face as he runs the gauntlet of teasing from waitresses at Pete’s on the way to a table. “Bill! More wasabi? Bill! You no steal Gordon’s sushi this time?” I can’t even roll my eyes and huff at Marcus’s latest antics, because there will never be another antic again.

So fill your creative well with good books, with good times with friends, with something fun and interesting and away from the everyday, and by taking the time to appreciate the priceless everyday that you have.

Publishing goals for next year:

1. For me – continue improving health, to aid and abet creativity. Finish 3 things, publish 1.
2. For Peter – Write and publish 12 stories next year, between novels and shorts.
3. For Sedgefield Press – clean up the projects that are still by the wayside after an interesting 2018 & 2019, and get all books in paper, backmatter and blurbs updated. Look into audiobooks. Attend LibertyCon.

We have personal goals beyond that – financial, health, learning… but for writing, that’s what we’ve got on the table so far. Here’s hoping it’s going to be a better year for all of us. Happy writing!

13 comments

  1. 1. Finish the next Merchant and Empire book. 2. Survive spring. 3. Write another Familiars short-story set. Beyond that? Try to stay healthy.

  2. Please, it is “the grace of God”! I don’t know who “G-d” is. At least the movie “God is My Co-Pilot” used the correct word in its title.

    1. Some people/denominations believe it’s wrong to fully write out the name of G-d. I see it more often from orthodox Jews, and I don’t believe it myself. But if someone believes that, I’m going to respect their decision when in their house.

  3. Yep, health first, then more writing. A couple of conferences, and ‘I’ thought the blurbs were excellent!!!

  4. I somewhat expect that setting goals for the new year engages my oppositional defiance disorder. I’m trying to have goals while being super sneaky about it.

    1. Heard on the radio: “Our New Year’s resolution is to gain 30 pounds. We’ll either feel really good about our success – or we’ll fail miserably and look fabulous in our old clothes!”

      Might be something to that notion for people like us…

  5. 2020–Kick one more out the door before vacation, vacation, recover from vacation. Those six other things on the white board? Really ought to get them out this year, because there’s twice that many that haven’t squeezed on yet.

  6. Murder at least two communists per week.

    Is what I would like to say.

    I still haven’t finished outlining this mess that I realized this year that I had to try writing. If I had an outline, I’m not sure that pace would be sustainable or desirable. Even if it was, I hate to say this, but that many dead communists might ruin an otherwise salvageable story.

    Beyond that, my RL obligations are going to have to take priority. And I’m not sure how much time I can afford to spend in the emotional headspace I suspect this story needs.

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