A Postmortem Ode to 2016

While we’ve all rolled around in the muck that became 2016 and mourned the loss of one personal hero or another, or fumed at the political atmosphere that continues to become more toxic with each passing month, I’ve experienced a number of personal ups and downs that made the year something more complex than “the worst year ever”.

As far as creative projects go, I’m satisfied with what I achieved. Not as much as I hoped, but I did okay. I hoped to revise all four of my viable novels but I only made it to three. The other is now in deep freeze because it might be suffering from over-revision. But still, I enter 2017 with three revised, polished, pretty-not-so-bad novels to shop around to agents and/or publishers. One is a 1940s-era mystery novel, one is an adventure novel for middle school readers, and one is my own tribute to Cannery Row and The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter about the people living in Beacon, NY. I’m kind of excited about this.

I published one book of poetry, Dead City Jazz, with Epic Rites Press. I hoped to have two out, but there were delays and it now resides with Bud Smith at Unknown Press. So that’s something to look forward to in 2017.

I tried my hand at writing flash fiction, and I have about 30 new pieces of that, maybe half of which are publishable. It’s enjoyable and I like the format and I’d like to start submitting pieces and maybe put a little book together. Or not. We’ll see.

Watching the film Paterson at the end of the year reminded me that writing can and often should be for its own pleasure, with no need to monetize or publish every word we produce. I will remind myself of this more often in 2017—write for myself, for the joy of it. After that, it’s all frosting.

It was also my third year fighting cancer. I’m thankful that in 2016, after years of chemo and a stream of ineffective treatments, my doctors at Sloan Kettering have finally found an experimental treatment that has helped normalize my life while I deal with this rare disease. It has been physically and emotionally challenging, especially since I don’t look or act like I have anything wrong with me, a carefully orchestrated disguise in an attempt to maintain a “normal” life, but my doctors have been great, my family has been supportive, and my friends have been champions of keeping me afloat. In this regard, 2016 was a spirited battle and I’m entering the new year feeling strong and confident.

I didn’t read as much as in previous years but I read enough to keep me happy. A favorite author put out a new book that holds up, and I discovered some new great writers that have me excited about my unread pile of books beside my desk.

I found a new job and new freelance work in 2016, but there are more steps to go until I’m back on track occupationally.

I didn’t travel as much, but I hope to fix that with trips to Maine, Texas, California, and a swing through the South stewing in my mind. I'd love to do more readings too. I didn't do any in 2016.

The dog still makes me happy. My family still makes me feel safe. I’m still alive.

As 2016 showed me, 2017 will have some terrible lows and thrilling highs. I’m ready for it, for all the love and rebellion and anguish and peace, for the good work completed and the lazy afternoons of a fleeting life. I’m ready for everything, so let’s get to work.