So, uh. It’s been a year since I sent a newsletter. When I wrote last year’s January missive about hope, I was feeling very optimistic — for the world, and for my ability to send a newsletter every month. Well, we’re now staring down the barrel of year three of a global pandemic, and I have not sent a newsletter in a year either. Whoops.
Perhaps I will this year. Sure! Let’s pretend that’s likely, so rather than this particular newsletter being full of cynical mutterings about how the pandemic won’t end until there is global vaccine access and how capitalism is both preventing that and also forcing people to walk back into a world where infections are spiking because don’t worry, it’s mild, probably, and the chance to remake the world into one that’s more fair, more just, because people see how necessary that is feels like it’s slipping through our grasp–
Right. Not that. Instead let’s focus on where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to in 2021!
I’ve been in my apartment. I’ve been up to being in my apartment.
My biggest change: Since it isn’t a change of scenery, obviously, my biggest personal change of the year has been changing jobs. This would be a big deal for anyone and is a huge deal for me in particular because I’d been at the same company — more or less — for 14 years. (Throughout those years it had been acquired twice, and I changed roles several times, but in broad strokes.)
This had been a long time coming. To be fair: I really liked that company. The people were mostly great, the mission was something I believe in, the PTO was plentiful, and I was good at what I did. I was also coasting, with little room for growth on my team. My team which, over the last few years I was there, was shuffled between three different departments. In the last year or so, I had four different bosses. (Well. I had three different bosses, but one of them twice.) People left and weren’t replaced. The executive team kept telling us we were valuable and doing great work, and demonstrating that they had no idea what our department did, or should do, or what they wanted us to do.
It all eventually came to a head and after a year or so of searching and several frustrating “you were our second choices…”. I got a good offer from an interesting company that was pretty much a perfect match for my skill set. I’m now perma-remote, even if the pandemic actually ends someday. The change happened in October, so I’m still getting up to speed and I’m not at all used to not being the person who knows all the details (yet), but I’m learning lots, working with an awesome client, and really happy.
Writing stuff: Ahaha well. It feels like every year, when I do my January goal setting, the one circled and underlined in big bold letters is “get this book out on submission!!!”
Yeah, it’s not.
Yes, it’s the same project I’ve been working on since 2018. Yes, I kind of want to tear my hair out. Yes, I have the same bolded, circled, underlined goal this year.
But y’know. Global pandemic. Changing jobs. Things are rough. And I did actually make a lot of progress! I finished 2020 with a draft and one big revision (we’ll call that draft #2). So in 2021, I finally let a few people read it, and figured I’d have one more big revision pass to go, then a final cleanup pass, and I’d be good. Which, uh. Look, it wasn’t totally off. I really did need one more giant revision. Which took most of the year. I will doubtlessly get more into this in my one annual blog post where I run through my writing stats for the year, but when I say this was a big revision, I mean it — maybe it’s actually bigger than that first revision. I wrote a lot of new sections, and completely rewrote other sections. Draft #1 was 79,000 words. Draft #2 was 91,000 words. Draft #3 is 108,000 words. And I also cut and replaced about 30,000 existing words, which means that all told, in that revision, I wrote at least 45,000 new words. The midpoint is entirely new, and so is the climax.
I feel pretty good about it! And then I finished off the year with a long reread and some note-taking and decision-making to see what I need to do in the next revision. The one I had hoped would be mostly clean up. And I’m sure a lot of it will be! But, well. I need to rewrite the climax again, and to make that work, I need to add in a whole additional POV throughout, and the second half of my act II is still a mess, and…
Part of me wants to throw the whole damn thing away. It’s been slow going. I’ve been working on it for years. But each revised draft is genuinely better. Is closer to what I want the story to be. I’m not shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic, I’m spotting icebergs and plotting courses around them, complete with strained metaphors. I’m not under contract, so it’s not like there’s a time restraint here. It feels like it’s taking forever, and so what if it is?
Other stuff: Honestly, I didn’t have a lot of other stuff this year. The biggest other thing for me is that in August my swim classes finally started back up, and so after a year and a half I was able to get back to it! After five month of classes once or twice a week, I’m starting to feel pretty confident and build up some stamina. And in one class, I dove! Maybe that’s a tiny thing, but for me it was a 2021 highlight.
I also came out more widely as nonbinary. (Which, if you didn’t know: hi!) I feel like my relationship to gender and pronouns and why the single phrase “Hey ladies” spurred me to be out at work is probably a whole newsletter’s worth of stuff, which I may or may not ever actually write, but it is cool to be more known and seen in a way that matches who I am. (Re: pronouns, for now I am she/they but moving toward they/them on public profiles. Pronouns are not a thing I care that much about, but there aren’t a lot of other signifiers of nonbinary-ness, so it’s really just using the tools we have. Like I said, it’s a whole lot more than I can condense into a paragraph or two.)
As for other other stuff, hmm. I didn’t consume much new media this year — Ted Lasso for TV, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles on my Switch, a couple of books, uh… that’s about it. I spent more hours than I’d care to quantify watching Youtube while playing phone games. I am hoping that in 2022 I’ll start taking in new stories again — that I’ll have the brainspace to want to take in new stories again.
For now, I think that’s about it. 2021 was a weird year where things improved slightly but have ended on a sour, pessimistic note. Here’s hoping 2022 is a year of genuine recovery and forward motion. I have lost all sense of what’s realistic, what’s optimistic, and what’s doomsaying, so I guess for now it’s time to just keep muddling through.
Happy new year, friends.