2017 has ended, and everyone is doing their obligatory year in review. I’m not sure when this trend started, but for some reason, I blame VH1 for it. Maybe it wasn't them, but I’m still going to say it’s their fault we all feel obligated to do this annual summary of our lives.
I’m not going to lie, 2017 was a strange one for me. It started out with the inauguration of a grossly incompetent man as President, instead of the grossly overqualified woman who ran for the same office; confirming everything I’ve felt, witnessed, and suspected about misogyny in America: it’s here, it’s there, it’s fucking everywhere.
January was a rough one. February, too.
What depressed me the most was the realization that I’d let misogyny and outdated notions of womanhood impact my decisions for the last decade or so. Somehow, during my 30s, I’d had enough with bucking the system and decided to go with the flow. I mean, there are only so many times you can show up to mix a session or to wire a rig in a studio and have the person who hired you ask where your boyfriend is, or have the band think you’re the coffee girl even though you’re miking the damn drumkit, before you just want to burn the world to the ground.
I couldn’t change the world, so, I essentially gave up. I left Los Angeles. Moved back home to Louisiana. Met a nice man. Got married. Had a child. Did all those things that were expected of me, as a woman, to do. Problem was: I’d never wanted that life.
And then it happened. On November 9, 2016, a big old jolt of cold, liquid rage filled me so completely that I suddenly just couldn’t keep up the facade anymore. This person I was pretending to be, wasn’t me. It didn’t make me happy. It didn’t bring me any sort of solace, strength, or inner peace. It sure as shit wasn’t doing anything to advance the cause of feminine equality, so why the hell was I keeping it up?
When I cast off that mask I’d put on so long ago, what I found was transformative. A moment of self-discovery. An utter calm. Not tranquility, mind you - there is still plenty that makes me wish I could walk around, carrying a battleax, and decapitating people - but stillness. The kind of stillness a warrior gets before a fight. The kind of stillness that brings everything into laser-like focus.
And the funny thing is that it happened over the course of months. It happened so fast that I could watch it almost in real time. This decision to stop lying to myself and to just be.
I credit writing with the speed of this transformation. Writing is largely an autobiographical experience. You write what you know. What you’ve encountered. What you’ve felt. What you’ve witnessed. All altered, of course. Exaggerated, manipulated, molded, but still, it’s all you and anyone that tells you any different isn’t very self-aware.
My friends and family who’ve read my novels usually assume that I’m Q. And in some ways, I am. But I’m also Ben. I’m Yvie. I’m Derek. On my best days, I’m even Sanger.
In March, after I released Devil Take Me Down, I quickly began finishing Chasing Those Devil Bones and encountered a huge problem: I had absolutely no idea what made Detective Aaron Edgar Sanger tick, and he was a huge part of the story.
Like many writers, when I’m stuck I do one of two things: do a writing exercise or write the ending first. I did both, even though it meant that I had to write the final two novels of the series before the third book was even halfway done.
It was a catharsis. Writing as group therapy. The characters helped me to work through all the pain and confusion I was feeling in my own life and, at the end of it, I was ready to move forward.
I joined a gym to cast off the weight I’d put on. Some people feel better when they’re a little overweight. I’ve never been one of those people and am happy to report that I now have a healthy BMI for the first time in a decade, thanks largely to starting the Whole30 program and sticking with it for much longer than the requisite 30 days. Self-denial has always been one of my best talents, so it suits my personality well.
Vodka and I have had a very long, passionate relationship and I needed to put us on a little break so that we could reunite in a healthier way. We’re still casually seeing each other a few times a month, but I’m now in a pretty intense committed relationship with mineral water. Those little bubbles just slay me.
I did the National November Writing Challenge. I didn’t get to 50,000 words, but I did get a wonderful start on Book 4, which is cruising along towards a thrilling ending, more on that in another blog post.
I finished Chasing Those Devil Bones, which will be out next Saturday (pre-order is available now)
I decided to stop standing in my own way. Self-promotion has never been my strong point. It was a problem when I had a band. It was a problem when I was trying to make it as an audio engineer. It was a problem when I was writing film scores. It’s not going to be a problem anymore. In Chasing Those Devil Bones, Q’s mentor, Stanley Gerard, tells her that she thinks too much and it’s always been the thing that stood in her way. Just between us, Stanley was talking to me, too.
And finally, I’m going to take opportunities to get help from remarkably talented people when I am presented with them. You’re looking at the result of that right now. This website redesign by Redwood Digital Marketing could not have turned out better. And I’m thrilled at the result. The biggest of thank you’s and shout outs to Katelyn Redwood for her amazing work. I am constantly in utter awe at the number of talented people I am fortunate enough to be able to call my friends and Katelyn is a woman of many talents who has always topped that list.
So, that was my 2017. Like all stories, it had a beginning, a middle, and an end. Some wondrous things happened; some very strange things happened, too.
But now it’s 2018. In Judaism, the number 18 represents life, renewal, rebirth. And, whether it’s fair or not, I have a feeling 2018 is going to be full of all three of those things.
Happy New Year!