Thankful for 2009

2009 was not the year that I’d hoped it would be.

Then again, 2009 was far more than I ever could have hoped for.

Does that make sense?

This time last year I’d set for myself the goal of writing two 100,000 word books and 25 short stories, and getting them all out to market.

My actual production for 2009 was only 6 new short stories, zero books, and about 61,000 total new words, including some work on a pet project and some padded production on a novel that will technically count toward’s 2010’s goals.

However, there are several things that rescued 2009, for me personally.

First, I got my break-in sale, which I have spoken about at length on this blog. I was telling my wife when we were at the gym on New Years Eve that it really does feel different, finally being a paid writer. And not just chickenfeed paid. I mean SFWA-pro-level paid.

Before, if I’d wanted to flake on the writing, it was no big deal because it wasn’t like the household income was affected. I still went to the day job and brought home the day job check and the bills got paid, whether I put in 10,000 words in a week or zero words in a week. Now, I have a copy of my $500 from Writers of the Future under glass at my desk. It’s like the GEICO commercial with the stack of cash and the googly eyes: that check is always watching me. As if it’s speaking to my brain, “You idiot, there is a lot more where I came from if you just stop making excuses and get to work!”

Second, I made Warrant Officer with the Army Reserve. This time last year I was still awaiting results from the Army’s selection board for Warrant Officers — you don’t just get to be one, they have to pick you, and then you have to go through the spin cycle of Warrant Officer Candidate School. Which I have also spoken of on this blog. Happy to say I made it, in spite of a few bumps, and am in a new arena in my Reserve military career. It’s good to be The Chief.

Third, I survived some significant turmoil at work. Given the state of the economy in 2009, I don’t need to tell you how much stress I had, going through this turmoil. I don’t want to divulge too much because I might get too personal and too off-the-chain regarding person(s) who have since ceased to matter to me. Suffice to say, the year — in this regard — reached a somewhat surprising and — for my money — decidedly pleasant conclusion. I’ve got more work than ever to do, I’ve got the support I need from the people I need it from, and a certain significant fly has been removed from my ointment, if you know what I mean.

Oh, and I managed to avoid anything unexpectedly nasty, like a terrible new injury or illness. At least two people I know fairly well and one of whom is a personal mentor, spent 2009 battling cancer. If there is anything that really smacks you back into reality and makes you thankful for the little stuff, it’s finding out someone you care about has cancer. Potentially lethal cancer. Holy cow, how that just sobers you up. Freezes you solid. Makes you stop and wonder about all the tiny crap you bitch about all day, as if any of that really matters or is important.

Wife and daughter are healthy, too. In fact, daughter has been going gangbusters at school and jumped a grade. Mostly because Mom is a tyrannically awesome home schooler and doesn’t let my daughter’s brain turn to mush. Which is not to say we’re tough parents. We’re not. My daughter has loads of fun. With limits. It’s just that my wife, being the überfeminist that she is, is determined that our daughter — who is a decidedly smart little cookie — won’t sail through school being cute and sliding under the radar. We can’t force her to become a brain surgeon or an astronaut, but it would be nice if by the time she graduates Highschool she has that option. Because the way they ram kids through public school… No, that’s a political rant, and I won’t go there.

Anyway, as things drew to a close, I had to sit back and say, Brad, this was a good year. Not a tumult-free year. Not a year without distress or hard times. No. But the outcomes were good. The prognosis for 2010 is good. We’re headed into our third year in our house — first one we’ve ever owned, and probably the last, given our want to stay put, fix it up, and be comfortable on a conservative income — and we’re close to family. Which was not the case from 1994 through 2007, as my parents were two states and a plane flight away, which meant we didn’t see them a whole lot. Now we see them all the time, and it’s great. Priceless, in fact. Especially when I see my daughter getting to spend time with Grandma and Grandpa.

I don’t blab much about my religious beliefs on this blog, because I don’t think this is necessarily for the forum for that. But I do believe that God likes it when we — as His children — take the time to be thankful. Genuinely, positively thankful. Not grudgingly thankful. Not faux thankful. But really, really thankful.

I want to close out 2009 — yeah, OK, I am a day or two late, sue me — on a thankful note. Thank you, 2009, for being so good in the end, even when there were times when you seemed to be going so bad. Thank you, Lord, for seeing myself and my family through this. Thank you, Writers of the Future, and K.D. Wentworth, and Tim Powers, and Doug Beason, and Jerry Pournelle. Thank you Chief Niesen, for being my mentor, and for guiding me down the path to being a Warrant Officer. I pray you beat the cancer. Thank you, Chiefs Hartley and Wise for being my new mentors and for helping me complete WOCS. Thank you Day Job for still being there, even when there were times it seemed like you might be yanked out from under me.

And a final thank you to everyone who has commented on, and participated in, this blog. I am continually surprised to discover who is reading me, and why, and I hope these posts prove to be of at least minimal value, be it informational or entertainment. I use this space mostly to “think out loud” as it were, and I am humbled when anyone else drops in and “thinks out loud” along with me. Muchas gracias. Your words are appreciated.