Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Hindsight in 2020; a decade of writing

Since I haven't blogged in weeks, what better time than on the last day of a year, and a decade, full of ups and down, books and breaks. The 2010s were pretty good for me, book-wise. I self-published two novels, Every Time I Think of You, and its sequel, Message of Love, which won a Lambda Literary Award, and was a Finalist, respectively.

I also self-published my short story collection, Forty Wild Crushes in 2016, and in 2018, Beautiful Dreamer Press published my sixth novel, Now I'm Here. I still love typing that, "my sixth novel." So many frustrated writers never finish one, let alone get it published.

In work writing, I got to interview dozens of performing artists for the Bay Area Reporter, my pleasant, fun and challenging day job.  Features ranged talents like Cazwell, Carol Cook, Peaches Christ, Debbie Harry, to Ross Mathews and Sister Roma.

For the past three decades, aside from a few wacky and tedious temp and freelance jobs, I've been rather lucky to make a living as a writer. Again, a rare thing, and one that I cherish.

Like you, I've lost a few friends, but gained some as well. I've burned a few bridges, but built a few others, and you know, I can swim.

2020 24 hours to go
The good news to look forward to are not one, but three literary projects. While I don't consider it bad luck (I don't really believe in luck, per se) to mention the projects outright, I will hint that they're two audioooks and my seventh novel. I suppose I should add those into 2019 accomplishments, since the audiobooks are in production with a talented narrator, and the seventh novel was finished this year.

While going through some old family photos with my brother over the Christmas holiday, I was heartened to see a Christmas Day photo when I was nine (see first photo). Huddled over a tiny manual typewriter, my little fingers started typing away, making what would become small handmade book gifts foisted upon family and friends.

And while, like luck, I don't believe in fate, something in me has always wanted to tell stories. People ask how one can become a writer, and I'm hesitant to offer advice. I simply could not not be a writer.

I'll link to a few New Year's Eve posts which excerpt me fourth and fifth novels.

In Every Time I Think of You, Reid gets a surprise visit from Everett, who's hoisting a champagne bottle in the snowy cold outside his door.

A few years later (in Message of Love), as the two bond and form a life together, in Everett' father's Pittsburgh condo, Reid shows his love on New Year's Eve by attempting a naked handstand.

I never had either experience. Sometimes I vicariously live through my characters, creating what might have been, had I found true love at a young age. 

For now, I'm counting the hours until it's closer to midnight, to gather with a few friends, one of them also an accomplished gay author. That is, if I don't get a text saying he's already gone to bed. That would be okay, because life and holidays aren't always as fabulous as expected. That's why we make up stories.

A look back through a decade ends up filtered. We try to forget the pain and loss, the fumbles, and focus on the good memories. Good writers do that. Great writers stir up the pain and loss as well. You'll see a new level of maturity in my next novel, I hope.

I also hope you make a decade's worth of good memories, starting tomorrow.

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