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Unhappy Old Year

So. Once again we rebooted the calendar, and it worked. Whew. Couldn’t have happened soon enough. This year had its moments, but it wasn’t among the best I can recall, though it stands shoulders above 2002.

The year began with the worst flu I’ve had in 35 years. Lesson: Get your flu shots! Carol did. I didn’t. Q.E.D. There was other illness in the family that I won’t talk about, though nothing life-threatening. For that we have to move out into our friendscape. We lost Prudy Stewart, a stalwart from the local Bichon Frise Club, along with Harold Shippey, a gentleman in our camping group. Two of my grade school teachers died within a couple of months of one another: Mrs. Mary Clare Toffenetti, who taught art and French at IC school, and Mrs. Mary Veronica Condon, who taught third grade and also French. Dan Matthews, one of the kids in my grade school class, who had been a close friend for several years, died on Christmas Day. Just last night, one of our parishioners, who generally sat two pews behind us at church, had a serious heart attack. He’s in a coma and is not expected to survive.

All this since November 1, sheesh.

Oh, and my house almost blew up. Settling soil has been our bane here for years now. We had to empty the lower level and get the slab mudjacked, and are still fooling with paint chips and carpet samples now that the carpet’s been torn up anyway. All of my SF and most of my electronics magazines are packed and out of reach. It’s a mess.

For good things to report I’ll begin with the completion of Drumlin Circus, a 53,000 word short novel that came together in one furious six-week period, during which I wrote as much as 5,000 words in a single day. Jim Strickland and I put a tete-beche double novel on the market, incorporating Drumlin Circus and On Gossamer Wings, both tales from the Drumlins World.

Jim and I attended the Taos Toolbox writers’ workshop in July, conducted by Walter Jon Williams and taught by Walter and my SF mentor Nancy Kress. I described the workshop in two entries after we got back, and would have continued if my damned gas line hadn’t threatened to ignite virtually under my feet. (I hope to write a little more about the workshop in coming days.) I will say right now that if you have a little experience in SF or fantasy, Taos Toolbox is spectacular. Granted, it’s expensive, and almost unbelievably intense. Jim describes it as a 500-level graduate course in the art of the novel compressed into two weeks, and that sounds about right. Walter is currently accepting applications for the 2012 workshop, and I give it my wholehearted recommendation. I met a lot of wonderful people, workshopped 15,000 words of my current novel-in-progress, Ten Gentle Opportunities, and returned with new dedication to the craft of fiction. I’d hoped to finish TGO by the end of the year, but (as described above) the year did not cooperate. The new target is April 1. Snotty AIs, zombies dancing the Macarena, a copier factory gone rogue, magic as software, physics as alternate magic, and malware from another universe…hey, what else d’ya want?

On October 2, Carol and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary. We spent ten days on Oahu, generating enough gumption to start having the lower level rehabbed when we got back. It took everything we could generate, and more.

I joined the Writers Write! group here locally, and have made many friends there. The group’s motto is Just write the damn book! It’s advice I need to take.

Those are the broad strokes. Scattered among the days were little flashes of light and minor grunts of annoyance. My brakes have needed work three times. I met Cynthia Felice. My new superregenerative FM receiver has dead spots. I finished a nice steampunk computer table. That sort of thing; up and down on an almost daily basis.

I have high hopes for 2012. Carol and I have deliberately held back opening our Christmas presents until January 6th to get an upbeat start on the year, and 2012’s first 18 hours have gone pretty well. I won’t try to draw any conclusions from the data points presented. Hey, sea level dropped 6mm in 2010 alone. Blips happen, so let’s not read too much into any of them. It’s not the end of the Holocene…yet. Then there’s the Mayan calendar. Y2KXII, anybody? Let’s party!)

Happy new year, everyone. Strive to appreciate your friends this year. (You won’t have them forever!) Write more. Worry less. Go outside and check your gas pipes. Eat fat and drink sweet wine, and make sure you share what you have with others. I’ll be here when you need me.

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