Monday, December 25, 2017

2017 Christmas Letter

In January 2017, I had just moved to NYC a few months prior, and had really just begun to settle in to my new apartment. I didn't have a job yet, wasn't entirely over the feelings of failure and worthlessness after my last relationship, and hadn't really written much of anything in the last year or so while working tirelessly to save up for the move, being incredibly stressed about several big life changes, and not really being close to where I wanted at the age 27.

In the months to come, I found a rhythm. I loved New York for its no-nonsense attitude, the people there were passionate and easy to talk to. There were a few unpleasant moments with the expected individuals, but overall, for a time, I thought that it might be a good place for me. It was exciting with high energy and many options when it came to who you talked to.

It wasn't until I had an annoying day at work sometime in may where I facetiously joked to myself, "I'm gonna quit!" that I realized my desire to return home.

My roommate, an older woman who had a near panic attack when I moved the mini fridge left in my room a foot to the right, always made me feel like a guest. I realize she was checking my light bulbs when I was gone, as well as just poking around to make sure things were the way she wanted them. I left the door open while away, and the tiny closet-sized room didn't leave much to hide, so the invasiveness wasn't necessary. At the moment I began to want the freedom of Wyoming, I started to realize how much I walked on eggshells when she was around, flinching every time she went into the bathroom in case I didn't clean out the hairs in the tub well enough.

I hated not having a car. I hated being dependent on the subway system. I had gone there to have things accessible to me - so I could just run out and grab something in the middle of a project. But things were always far, regardless of how few blocks they were, and leaving would take hours of my day for one item. If I could even find it. And many things New Yorkers just ordered online; you couldn't find them in stores.

I realized, being able to successfully live in one of the most expensive cities in the world on a part-time job at minimum wage, I could easily put myself up back in Wyoming, live with a more flexible budget and really try to give myself time for my real work.

I returned home to feel a huge wash of relief on me. I took my old job back at the airport, making a good amount of money and my bosses feeling very flexible in when I work, giving me room to travel and set things up the next year.

Writing has gone alright this year, but it could be better. I've long gotten out of the habit, and I feel some desire had left me for a time. Submitting to agents can feel futile. For many, it took up to nine months to get back to me, and prior I felt like I had been sending it out to the void, my work being sucked up into a black hole to be impacted into nothing. It's sort of like playing a difficult video game in which after struggling through, you realize you messed up way back in the beginning and have to start over. Or worse, it's not a screw up, just bad luck. It's out of your control. And still, go through all the motions again with no more guarantee of results. Beta-readers and critique partners weren't excited about what I was doing, and the advice could be convoluted, painful, and inaccurately biased.

The last few months, after a pretty good year, I've slipped with the comic, the Stories of the Wyrd, publishing submissions... Well, a lot of things. With sickness, travel, work, the theatre, I feel the need to reorganize my priorities because I gave up on some long term projects for a while.

Good news is that I did do most of last year's resolutions. I traveled to Ireland, did a trip across America visiting Niagra Falls and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I went to Seattle to see a friend, and have plans to go to Iceland this April. I didn't submit to as many agents as I wanted, but I did get my book out there more than I have before. I'm not sure I read 12 novels this year, but I did read a lot, including several books 800-1,400 pages. I've toyed with my website, which I assume will always be ongoing, but it is different and hopefully more accessible than it was before. And lastly, I very much did complete the three-year-old to-do list that I'd been working on for ages.

After some hiccups of 2015 and '16, 2017 really encouraged me to go after what I wanted, and therefore helped me figure out what it was I didn't want. My view of my future has changed a lot in the last couple of years, but admitting to myself what really mattered - free time to create - helped me make better choices for myself, and not worry so much about my credibility. A stressor that was never going to be completely solved.

Have a Merry Christmas and happy holidays everybody. The next year is coming, and we'll make it a bash!

-Cheers, Charley

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