Fuck off, 2020

Been a while, blog readers! Apologies. I purposefully went on blog hiatus a while back because doing both this and Twitter (and at the time Tumblr and Facebook) were just too much. I’ve since dropped Tumblr and FB (for all but family purposes, and occasional comments on other folks’ FBs), and I’ve cut my Twitter usage to roughly about an hour a day. But I still like to talk and think out loud, so here’s where I’ll do more of it in the coming year.

Speaking of the coming year. As the hell year that was 2020 grinds closed with agonizing slowness, naturally I’m contemplating how I want to roll in 2021. Of course, the best laid plans of mice and women don’t always work out; as I recall, this time in 2019 I made plans to cut down on my cursing, cut Twitter use, cut carbs, finish book 2 of the Great Cities trilogy and get a good start on book 3, and go on my first-ever book tour for book 1. Ha ha, said 2020, and pretty much all of that got flattened. Well, I did cut back on carbs, but I probably curse even more now.

So take my plans for 2021 with a pile of salt. Here goes:

  • Stop dropping f-bombs casually. I honestly have no problem with vulgar language in general — like all language, it serves a purpose — but 2020 has eroded my old educator’s ability to easily slip from “professional mode” (no cursing) to “after-work mode” (fire at will, fire at will). Making that particular word off-limits will be a good way to rebuild this lost skill. I am in no way giving up f-bombs altogether; I’m a New Yorker, after all. But IMO, a good “fuck off” should be like the cherry on a sundae — the garnish that perfects an otherwise awesome dish, in other words. We should all appreciate the cherries of life more.
  • Resume carb reduction. Weight loss is unimportant to me. I’m fine with being “famine resistant” as long as I’m healthy. But I feel healthier when I don’t eat so much sugar and starch, so I’m going to continue with that now that the holidays are over.
  • Exercise more, especially cardio. I did good, actually, through the end of summer, but I tend to turtle down in winter, and I gotta stop that. I’ve decided to buy an elliptical for my home. Should be fun.
  • Write more. For the first time in my life, I haven’t finished a single creative work (except fanfic) in this whole year. 2020 has done a real number on my creativity, because it’s hard to imagine other worlds when the one you’re in is busy becoming a disease-riddled (more) fascist ethnostate. Yeah, I’m unbelievably fortunate in having been able to work from home and support myself and others through this, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t feel the crushing doom. Because of this, I restarted book 2 multiple times, and finally had to tell my publisher that I needed another year. Deepest apologies to those of you who loved The City We Became and were hoping to know what happens next; it’ll happen, but it’s gonna be a while.
  • Possibly start a podcast with Kate Elliott. More on this later.
  • Read again. In addition to killing my creativity, 2020 has finished a process that started when my writing career got hot: I don’t read for fun anymore. Nonfiction reading still flows for me, though not as easily as it did, and strictly for research purposes. Nonfiction for fun, though? And reading fiction? It’s not just that it’s hard to shut off my inner editor; it’s also the fact that immersing in another world means taking my eyes off this one for a while, and that’s hard to do when I feel braced for potential danger at all times. And I miss other worlds. There are so many new authors out now, kicking out exciting new stuff, and I want to read it! I’ve got established-writer friends with new work out or coming and I want to read it, too! I used to read all the things. I need that back.
  • Watch more TV/film. I basically dropped this entire form of media a few years back, when life was harder and my time was more restricted; something had to give. But as with reading, there’s good stuff coming out in this medium, and I want it. Time to go get it.
  • (This might be easier because I’ve been gaming less. That wasn’t intentional; it’s just that I haven’t liked many new games lately. I might do a blog post at some point about this.)
  • Drop Twitter as a social space entirely. I’ve finally reached a point in my career where I don’t need social media anymore. Oh, I’ll still use it to announce career-related milestones, sales, and such, and I might occasionally be unable to stop myself from ranting about the Stupid of the world. But Twitter hasn’t been fun for a long time now. I’m too “big” to participate in most conversations about writing or media that I see, or comment at strangers without potentially sending dangerous fire their way. Many of my friends there have similarly reduced their Twitter footprint, for the same reasons. So, time to go.
  • In addition to using my blog more, I’m getting an update to this website altogether, since I’ve been using this design since the publication of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, way back in 2010. You’ll see it in a few weeks.

I’ve got some personal-life related goals, too, including the possible culmination of some big plans I’ve been working on for years now, but I don’t talk about personal stuff on here. :)

And as a kind of overall contemplation… 2020 has been such a schizoid year. In a lot of ways, I’m living my best life right now. A MacArthur Fellow! A fourth Hugo! My God, the size of my royalty checks. The film option checks! But meanwhile I’ve been desperately afraid for friends and family who’ve caught corona, or lost jobs, or suffered horrific tragedies. I’ve bailed out friends who got caught up in protest kettles when the NYPD absolutely lost their fucking minds and turned on the whole city. (I’m giving up f-bombs in 2 days. I need them now.) I’m helping with the caretaking costs for an elderly relative… whom I don’t dare go visit. So how do I fully appreciate the joys of success when everything around me is melting down? Well, I haven’t been. That, too, must change, but damn if I can figure out how. Well, I’ve got a good new therapist these days, so we’ll work on that.

A photo of the text on the 2020 Hugo Award base: a black circle with all-caps wording etched in gold. Transcript in blog post.As a step in that direction, here’s the base of my fourth Hugo, created by ConZealand, with some truly lovely wording. Here’s the text transcribed: “As we look to the stars let us be inspired by explorers like Kupe and Tasman. Who went before us to discover new lands in the South Pacific (sic)

The star cluster on this trophy can be seen all round the earth. It is known in New Zealand as Matariki. When it precedes the dawn late in May, or early in June, it heralds the start of a new year.

Mäori used these stars, and others, to navigate the Pacific. Measuring the angle between the stars and the horizon with parts of the hand. 1°, 5°, 10°, 15°, and 25° are depicted in gold. The design on the top of the base represents the Milky Way and was inspired by traditional Mäori patterns based on the unfurling fronds of the many endemic ferns. It has been made of rimu timber and päua shell.”

Let’s look to the stars and a better future, and then let’s work our asses off to make it so in 2021.

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