Dan has already declared that he’d like to give 2009 one last good kicking before he shoves it to the back of the closet, and you know, I would definitely give the first half of this year the backside of my hand if that were all there were to it. But I can’t discount the bizarre ride that August onward was, and so I while I’m not going to outright hug this year, I’m not going to abuse it, either. I think I will just thank it for coming the way I would any guest, and give it a polite smile, and focus on 2010.
It was a year like an abusive partner. One minute it was beauty and light, the next it was full of knives. Pain like I’ve never known before and continue to feel off and on. But on the flip side of that, a peace with and understanding of my body like nothing I’ve never known. We also took an epic trip west as a family, and I am no longer interested in any trip that does not involve my husband and daughter. I also prefer a car to all other methods of travel. I had a lot of interpersonal ups and downs, too, all year, but I also saw several returns that I did not see coming but welcomed very much. I didn’t just sell one book; I sold three. I met new peers and made new support groups and saw old ones change, some of them fading, some of them becoming like rocks that only a sea change could uproot. (Can you use uproot with rocks? What else? Unbury? Such a horrible ring.) The year was up, the year was down, in huge waves in both directions.
I suppose that’s the zen lesson in this year. If I’m honest, the intense pain and rage and anger it unearthed in me gave birth to Hero, put the heart in Special Delivery, and helped me tap into both Ethan and Randy’s ghosts in Double Blind. I keep trying to turn around and give that same thing to The Seventh Veil but every time I think I get settled another m/m story blows up in my head. Soon, though. ( , you have an ally in tmelange, who has started following here just to make sure I get back to Temple Boy. Which I’m grateful for and will hold you both to.) I guess that’s what I’ll take out of this: I entered 2009 with my jaw set, tired of things not working determined to triumph by sheer force of will, got my ass kicked so hard I very nearly came unglued, and, as I let go because I could hold on no longer, found all the success I was looking for and more. The pain sent me into therapy early in the year, and the thing about pain as I’ve said is that if you’re burying anything at all, it will bring it out of you, and in addition to talking about how bitterly my body had betrayed me, I talked about relationships and writing and everything else under the sun. And at some point (I know because she just reminded me) I told Maura that all I wanted was someplace small and intimate with low politics, that this wasn’t settling, that this was what I wanted, to find a publishing house where I felt at home, where I felt supported, and it wasn’t about money (though I’d take it), it was about a safe place to put my stories and to nurture my professional self.
And this is exactly what I got. Admittedly not yet for TSV, but it’s like I always say to Dan: now that I’ve had a good partner, I’m not ever settling for anything less, ever. I no longer look at finding a publisher for the fantasy stuff with such angst; I’ll just keep putting it up on fictionpress if I have to, and if it ends up on Lulu, it ends up there. I still would rather have an editor and a team, because now that I’ve had them I know how important they are, but if I can’t get that, I can’t get that, and we’ll just carry on. This peace would not have come, though, without the journey of this year, both the pleasure and the pain.
When I boil it down, I end up simply declaring that I have learned a lot this year, most of it about myself. I will also say that yes, there is an incredible value in achieving success. It does feel very good, even in tiny doses. But I’ll also admit something I could not have understood at this time last year: success is sweeter after release. Had I come to where I am now without having gone so low and feeling so awful, I think my hands would never completely unclench. Had it come too fast I would never have known how good it was. I would have felt it was my due, not a miracle or a gift. And that "due" part is key: this success is mine, and it always has been, but it’s not something the universe owes me, much as I joke about that sort of thing. This success was not something that I got because I was good or bad or because I had a bad run. My happiness is a direct result of my own actions and also the result of pure luck and good timing. There’s a part of me that still panics over a world which cannot be controlled, which is not ruled by order and reason, but chaos. I find that funny, and surely anyone who has read the Etsey stuff is thinking, "Isn’t this the chick who wrote about the godless Void?" Well, yes, but part of me keeps hoping that isn’t true. Part of me keeps hoping if I am good or clever I can win, that I can maintain control. Part of me is still very, very uncomfortable with the idea that the only way to "win" is to surrender. Over and over and over.
So here’s to 2009. Thank you, year that was, for all that you were. I’m not going to hug you, but I’m not going to curse you. I will nod respectfully, and I will hold the door. And I will welcome your brother 2010, not as my savior or judge, and not either as anything I can manipulate or control. 2010, if you care to take my hand, we will dance for 365 days. Let us do our best to partner with grace and mutual respect, me for what I am and what I desire, and you for the same.
See you on the dance floor.