Yes, yes, years are arbitrary constructs with no inherent meaning, blah blah. So are laws, governments, borders, money, gender, race, social structures, religion, and sports. That doesn’t mean they aren’t real, and for me, the end of one year and the start of another has always been a potent time. An opportunity to look back, and look forward, and note long-term patterns, and make course-corrections as necessary.
It’s been a crap year in a large sense. You all know. But I’ve dwelled on the bad a lot; I’m going to think about the good now, in retrospect.
I read a bunch of books. I had the bright idea to finally start tracking my reading using Goodreads, which is simple, and since I started doing that in May I read or re-read about 70 books (there are a bunch of comics collections in there inflating the numbers; I average a book or two a week, as I have for decades). I did a year-in-review essay for Locus about my favorites, but I really liked I Am Providence by Nick Mamatas, Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire, Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff, Hard Light by Elizabeth Hand, and The Pleasure Merchant by Molly Tanzer (the latter not new in 2016, but new to me). (People keep trying to friend me on that site or whatever. I literally just use it to track my reading. Don’t be hurt if I use it for nothing else. It’s not personal.)
A few years back I decided to spend more time with actual humans instead of sitting alone in my house and reading and watching TV all the time, and as a result my life changed vastly for the better. (Though it cut way into my video game time.) This year I’ve kept up some vitally important relationships, deepened others, and met some new people who became rapidly essential to my mental health and well-being. They know who they are. I’m cranky and misanthropic upon casual acquaintance but effusive with those I adore. What can I say: I have a limited number of settings. I had more wonderful dinners, and long talks hanging out on my couch, and strolls around nice places, and beers on patios, with those friends than I can possibly enumerate.
There were good parties too! Ais’s birthday party on New Year’s Day was fantastic and I got to talk to some amazing people who I can’t even mention without it looking like name-dropping. Heather’s birthday party was a fantastic rager as usual. The Bacchanal party at Jeff and Katrina’s was epic, as was the later vodka and caviar party. Open mic at my friend Elliotte’s Unicorn Estate was fun, too, reading some poems and singing Kimya Dawson’s “Alphabutt” with Ais to some kids. Heather and I had a great barbecue in the summer (and saw old friends we hadn’t seen in ages!). Jeff and Katrina’s hobbit-themed wedding anniversary/second wedding was a fantastic party. My birthday party (I turned 40; seems improbable, but there it is) was marvelous too and I got sooooo much good whiskey I won’t need to buy a bottle until sometime in the spring, I suspect.
Still doing WhiskeyHorror with Katrina on a regular basis. We saw many not-very-good movies, and a few great ones. (Maybe I should keep track of the movies I watch too? It’s getting a little “quantified life” up in here.) The whiskey was always good, and likewise the company. My screwball comedy-watching buddy Amy moved away to Seattle (sob) but I’m watching stuff with Effie sometimes, which helps assuage the terrible etc. I also wrote in cafes occasionally with Effie, and Erin, and Daryl, which makes me feel less cataclysmically alone as an artist and so on.
We took good trips: a couple of jaunts up to Cazadero to stay in our friend Mark’s B&B. He’s great, his kids are great, the place is great, the food is great (there’s a bakery attached!), and it’s a glory and a joy to spend the occasional weekend there. We jaunted down to Santa Cruz once or twice. Over the summer we spent a few days at Disneyland and California Great Adventure with River, who had the best imaginable time (it was pretty fun for the grown-ups, too; our hotel had a rooftop bar!). In November I stayed a week in Portland thanks to the kind hospitality of Jenn and Chris; I ate so much, drank so much, video gamed so much, and made variously merry. We had some good visitors here, too. My high school buddy Millard was in town with his family and we ate barbecue and hung out one day. Dawson did his annual visit and stayed over for a few days, and we talked of many things, and also drank of many things.
I went to a bitter Valentine’s sing-along show with Three Drink Circus, and it was great fun, and I think the only show I attended all year! Weird. Oh, no, wait, I got Heather tickets to Amy Schumer for our anniversary so we went to that and it was good too.
Saw a short film, The New Year, based on my story “Happy Old Year”: Elsie Jarrow brought to life. I should be able to send you all a link to that shortly as it’s expected to be generally available soon online. [Edit: it just went live at https://vimeo.com/169591118! Watch!]
Continued at my day job as senior editor at Locus, working with Liza and the rest of the staff to make the news make sense and tell you what you should read and highlight great writers and all that. I still like it a lot.
I took some concrete steps to get my disarrayed finances in order. Not exciting, and not super fun to talk about, but see above re: turning 40. It’s probably time to deal with all those things, so I am.
I wrote about 310,000 words this year, about a novella’s worth more than I did last year. There were two novels in there: Liar’s Destiny, the fourth Rodrick and Hrym novel in my Pathfinder Tales series. I’m not sure when that one will be published at this point; you’ll know when I do. The other book was Closing Doors, the last Marla Mason novel, which is out to Kickstarter backers now and will go on general sale around February 1. There’s an audiobook coming later this year too. I only published one novel in 2016, Liar’s Bargain, my favorite Rodrick and Hrym book.
I also sold a brand new novel, potentially the first in a series. Signed the contract and everything. I’ll tell you about it later this month, probably.
The majority of my writing was stories! This was my first full year of doing the Patreon, and that accounts for a full dozen stories: “Unfollowed,” “The Witch and the Womanizer,” “A Pathway Up and Down,” “The Doorman,” “The Downstairs Neighbor,” “Soft Open,” “Bound by Grace,” “Six Jobs,” “Barrow of Ulthar in: The Tomb of the Bibliophage,” “Invidiosa vs. the Chamber of the Dead,” “Sophie of Two Worlds,” and “Under the Tree.” (And you can read them all, and eight more from 2015, if you back my Patreon at www.patreon.com/timpratt. For like a dollar.)
Other stories include “Heavy Game of the Pacific Northwest” for Associates of Sherlock Holmes, about Col. Sebastian Moran hunting bigfoot; Marla Mason story “The Atheist in the Garden” (started in 2015, but not finished until early 2016, so I’ll count it); humorous fantasy “Kaylee the Huntress” for UFO 5; “But You Can’t Stay Here” for Mixed-Up, an upcoming anthology of flash stories and cocktail recipes; an erotica story (I dusted off my old pseudonym); “Murmured Under the Moon” for an upcoming SF/fantasy anthology; “Firecracker,” my first straight crime story, for an upcoming noir anthology; “A Sea Serpent in a Bathtub” for another fantasy anthology; and I co-wrote holiday story “It’s a Wonderful Carol” with Heather Shaw. That’s 20 (and a half) stories! Pretty good. Really nice to be centering story work in my life again. I also wrote a few book reviews, and a TV review (of Stranger Things; my first publication in F&SF!).
Goals, abstract and specific: Keep spending time with humans I like. Stay on top of the financial stuff. Get back to the reasonably healthy lifestyle I had going before the holiday food and booze bombs started to fall. Help my son run his first tabletop RPG games. Write an Elsie Jarrow novel. Do a collection of Marla Mason stories so I can tie a bow around the whole series. Do a collaborative collection of mine and Heather’s holiday stories. Fight against the rising tides of fascism.
Happy new year, all. May it bring you joy and peace.