Popular consensus seems to be that 2014 was just the worst. We had ISIS, Russia invading Ukraine, Ebola, Police assassinations, Gamergate, disappearing airplanes, the GOP taking over Congress and most of the states, and assorted other horribleness. I certainly can’t argue with any of that, but it also strikes me that things seem worse because of the way our culture is evolving: There’s always something terrible happening somewhere, and we now have more ways than ever to bring those terrible things into our homes.
To illustrate, take Slate’s fabulous “Year of Outrage.” It’s a great piece, and outrage has certainly become the steam that fills the Internet’s tangled tubes, but their methodology presumes a new outrage each day, whether that outrage consists of millions of raised voices, or just a few hundred. I’m not sure whether the core problem is that Internet though-leaders are constantly manufacturing outrage, or that readers sign on not wondering “what’s happening in the world today,” but, “what should I be angry about today?”
At the risk of sounding narcissistic, I doubt it’s healthy for any human psyche for the individual to rate his or her quality of life based on everything that’s happening worldwide. So while I sympathize with the families of those harmed by all the horribleness, I have to say that 2014 was a pretty good year for Yours Truly. With that in mind, I thought I’d share a few of the year’s highlights–all positive–in no particular order.
- I wrote a book. The third novel I’ve written, completed in under a year for the first time ever. It’s not for sale anywhere yet, but that’s okay because…
- I got a couple short stories published. Rut over at Revolt Daily and The Graveyard Slot in Big Pulp’s Black Chaos zombie anthology. Now I need to write more short fiction–I’ve got a couple things in the hopper, so to speak, but since so much of my attention has been on the novel, I haven’t written new short fiction in over a year.
- I got picked for the 2014 Baker’s Dozen writing contest. I didn’t get an agent out of it, but it was exciting just to know I’d done well enough to warrant inclusion. And while I was passed over for Pitch Wars, one of my would-be mentors told me it was because she thought the book was ready and she couldn’t improve it. All of this is super encouraging for a writer going through the query slog, and makes me optimistic that I’m on the right track.
- I moved to a new home that I love. More on this a bit later. For now let’s just say it’s a huge upgrade and leave it at that.
- I got gay married, to a lady. Just realized I hadn’t even mentioned that here! Liz and I are officially legally bound, albeit as domestic partners and solely for health insurance purposes. We get to witness first-hand the clear inferiority of this form of union, which makes me that much happier so much of the country is embracing marriage equality. Oh, and Liz gets to have health insurance.
- I participated in some important social movements. Yes, it’s horrible and wrong that people are still being treated unfairly–or murdered by police, specifically–in a country that considers itself the greatest in the world. The flip side of that coin, however, is all the attention and energy people are giving to social justice, marching and protesting and writing and tweeting, etcetera. I was proud to join protests in New York City against police injustice and brutality, and proud to see people raising their voices in a push for change. I’ll keep lending my voice in support of these movements, and hope to see actual positive change–though I realize how slow that can be.
- Stuff is generally pretty good for me. I’m healthy, my family and friends are healthy, most of us are doing pretty well financially, and our problems are of the “first world / white people” variety. Some people forget to notice or appreciate the absence of horribleness in their day to day lives. I’m not one of those people. Take note, Universe: I don’t need unexpected tragedy to remind me how good I had it. I’m there already.
So that’s my brief list of highlights for the year. If you care to share your own positive highlights for 2014, I’m interested to read them. I won’t stop you from bitching about the bad stuff either, but I think as a society we’re doing a pretty good job of that already.
Oh, and what about 2015? I don’t want to jinx anything, but maybe we can talk about some of what we’re hoping for in the new year.