Another year come and gone

Happy holidays!

(And if being told “Happy holidays” bugs you, then . . . HAPPY HOLIDAYS!)

Like most people, I can’t help but take the end of the year as an opportunity to look back on what went well and what went poorly, and to look forward to what I want to see happen in the future. So here is half of that . . . my thoughts on 2012.

Personally, 2012 was a great year for me. I made some fantastic new friends, and really felt like I’m coming more into a sense of who I am and who I want to be, if that doesn’t sound too woo-woo. Or like something that should happen before you’re forty. More and more I feel like I’m living the life I want to live. Particularly special to me this year is that I’ve had more opportunities to sing than ever before. We found a great karaoke host at one of the local restaurants in town, and when they stupidly decided they didn’t think karaoke lined up with their targeted demographic, we followed him to his new gig in Clermont. I know a lot of people would sneer at karaoke, but for someone who loves to sing but doesn’t quite have the talent to do it professionally, like me, it gives me a lot of joy. Who could sneer at that?

Joe Singing

Photo by Mary Goode Smith

Professionally, it was another very good year. Last year I had my highest AP pass rate ever and the second highest in the county. I still am privileged to teach a ton of fantastic kids. I still am spread awfully thin and teaching a ton of preps, as we work to invent a new program from the ground up. I have reason to believe that next year will be easier in that regard, as I don’t expect to be teaching any more courses I’ve never taught before. I won’t be inventing the wheel over and over again each year. I’ll probably keep getting up and four and staying at work until four in the afternoon, but I’m hoping I’ll see more bang for my buck now that the groundwork is laid.

Artistically 2012 was a mixed bag. I didn’t quite meet most of my writing and reading goals from the beginning of the year, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing–you’re supposed to make growth goals hard to reach, right? Otherwise, are you really stretching yourself?

One place where I did meet my goals was when it came to short fiction. I took two of Cat Rambo’s short fiction classes, and I feel like they helped me immensely in the area I was looking to improve in and in another, unexpected way: As I hoped, I finally figured out how to tell the stories I had in my head in a more reasonable number of words. Five thousand word stories used to be a challenge to me, and flash fiction was just plain unthinkable. Now I’ve pretty well unlocked that particular skill, and I’ve got the stories to prove it. Unexpectedly, though, her classes also helped jump-start my creativity. I get short story ideas much more easily now, pretty much any time I want them. If you’re an aspiring writer, particularly if short fiction or genre fiction are your bag, I can’t recommend her classes highly enough. They take place on Google+, so there’s no travel involved, and the price is beyond reasonable–I don’t know of a more affordable way to get instruction from a pro.

Beyond the short fiction, though, I fumbled through a few attempts at a follow-up to Vanishing Act. Late in the year, I finally had the revelation that I was trying too hard to tell a story that would be more marketable, or more firmly entrenched in my beloved genres. I was letting non-story concerns dictate my story, and so they weren’t *my* stories. When I wrote Vanishing Act, I wrote what was in my heart, and let everything else be damned. Once I had this realization, I was able to cast about for and find a story that was a Joe Story, and I’m well into a new draft that I’m very excited about–and that my alpha readers seem to be excited about as well. It won’t be done by year’s end, though, so I can’t quite call it a success for 2012.

Basically, though, I feel like in 2012 I found my voice. I guess that *is* a success, even if not quite as tangible as I had hoped.

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