2015 and Me

Surely the recitation of the facts of 2015 indicate it was a very good year for me. I released my first video game and graphic novel, both of which did pretty well; my novel The End of All Things was released and went into various best seller lists; my previous novel Lock In was a finalist for awards including the Locus and Campbell and won an Alex Award from the American Library Association (for adult books that are good reads for teenagers); I wrote a novel and a novella and a short story and toured the United States and Australia; I celebrated my 20th anniversary with my wife in London; and had lunch with Tom Hanks, you know, like you do.

Oh, and I got a book contract. So I have that going for me, which is nice.

What the recitation of facts misses is that in a great many ways, 2015 is the year that I stopped worrying about a whole lot of things. I could go into detail about this, but suffice to say that this is the year I recognized that so many of the things people worry about, in terms of their lives and careers and relationships and their place in the world, are things for me which are, for lack of a better term, settled issues.

To put it another way: This year it sunk in that I really did get to be the person I wanted to be when I grew up, and got the life I hoped to have, and in both cases that fact is even more fulfilling to me than I could have imagined when I was younger. If I were hit by the proverbial bus tomorrow, I couldn’t say my life wasn’t wonderful, with wonderful people in it, or that I didn’t do what I had wanted to do with it.

This does not mean that life can’t take its turns in the future; it doesn’t mean I won’t have failures and disappointments and annoyances; I have not ascended to some zen plane of perfect equanimity. Just last night I was irritated as hell that I bought a Blu-Ray at the store and then left it in the shopping cart in the store parking lot. I am still me; I am not anywhere close to perfect and I suspect I would rapidly become bored if I were. I continue to be a work in progress.

What I mean, simply, is that I am mindful of my circumstance, and that mindfulness allows me to choose not to worry much about certain things any more. I was going to say that this was the gift that 2015 gave me, but as I was typing it I realized it wasn’t actually a gift; it’s something that I built for myself — along with, to be clear, my wife and my child, and with a great deal of help from many other people. I’ve been building this edifice for a while, and this was the year it was habitable and I decided to live in it.

Another thing about 2015 is that in a very real way I think of it, with regard to my career, as a pivot point. I mark the start of my professional writing career as 1990; that was the year I began freelancing concert reviews and features for the Sun-Times newspaper and New City magazine in Chicago, and paid for my food and rent with what I earned. 2015, then, marked a quarter century of me writing for a living, and during that quarter century I learned how to write a lot of things, and I had a lot of fun, and I built a career that has gotten me to this place in life.

That contract I made with Tor this year represents many things, and I certainly understand why people have talked about it and what it means (I mean, come on. We wanted you talk about it. You knew that, right?). I’ve talked before about what it means to me, and to that I’ll note another thing: To me, it represents a foundation for the next 25 (or so) years of my career. I am after all in a different place with and in that career than I was 25 or 10 or even five years ago. I have different interests and opportunities and concerns now than I had then, and my contract with Tor, and all the books and writing and imagination it represents and requires, is what my career will build on from here.

And just what will happen from here? Man, you got me. I have no idea, other than, hey, I have some books to write. But here’s the thing: If all it means is I get those books to write, how cool is that? Thirteen new books and a bunch of new stories, characters and situations I haven’t even begun to think of yet, coming out of my brain into a computer and then onto a page which goes into a book. And then someone gets the book and opens it and what was in my brain is now in theirs. That’s nifty.

And it’ll happen, and will begin, because of what happened for me in 2015. It was a watershed year for me. A career year. Don’t think I don’t know it.

2015 in Scamperbeastery

Needless to say, the real big news of 2015 was the arrival at the Scalzi Compound of Sugar and Spice, aka Thing One and Thing Two, aka the Scamperbeasts. They arrived on the first day of November (which means tomorrow is their second monthaversary here)  and have made rather a large splash since then. I have taken many many many many many many pictures. For next year I suspect they will end up in the usual end-of-the-year pet roundup, but for this year, let’s so ahead and do a quick retrospective on their fuzzy conquering of the household. And remember that when you need a quick Scamperbeast fix, there’s an entire Flickr photoset devoted to them.

That last picture is from about 20 minutes ago, and is Sugar swatting at the camera, as if to say, “Enough with the pictures.” All right, Sugar. It’s indeed enough for the rest of the year.

What Passes For Snow, December 2015

Here it is: A light dusting in our forward landscaping area. Krissy and I are debating whether or not this qualifies as actual snow, on account that on the actual lawn, driveway and walkways, there’s not a single scrap of snow, i.e., it didn’t stick anywhere, nor will it, as it’s supposed to get over freezing this afternoon. Verdict: Meh. Go home, December, you are drunk.

I do believe this is the first December I’ve been in Ohio where there has been no snow to talk of, hasty last-minute pseudo-dustings not withstanding. The December weather nationwide has been weirdly enough that it’s made even climate change deniers delightfully defensive; I had a few yell “it’s weather not climate!” in desperation at me on Twitter before I muted their silly asses. It’s certainly true that one weird December does not climate make. I also understand that it’s been something like sixty or seventy degrees warmer at the north pole than it usually is and that 2015 is the warmest year humans have recorded on the planet, and that fourteen of the fifteen warmest years ever recorded have been this century. So I feel that climate change deniers have every right to feel defensive right about now.

Not that, on a purely personal micro scale, I minded the warm December at all; I’m California born-and-bred and grew up in a world where 72 and sunny on Christmas was the norm. I’m delighted to have gotten entirely through December without once having to haul out my winter coat. But then again on Athena’s birthday we had an actual tornado warning here in my hometown and not too far away people’s barns were spread across their neighbors’ fields because of those tornado warning winds. Weird warm December weather is not all standing in your yard in December with a t-shirt.

Predicted weather for the first week of January: Mostly high 30s and low 40s and no snow expected. If we get through January without snow I’m gonna maybe start freaking out.