2015 and Me
Posted on December 31, 2015 Posted by John Scalzi 28 Comments
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.
I’m glad that “The End of All Things” helped to be the beginning of new things.
Indeed, quite the landmark. Congrats again, John!
Frankly, I’m impatient for 2016, because that’s probably when you’ll be allowed to tell us that all of your teevee shows got bought for sixty-gajillion seasons and we’re going to be drowning in an ocean of audiovisual and literary Scalzimedia for the next couple of decades.
A good year indeed, and I’m sure there are many more ahead.
Let’s hear it for Blu-ray players that are inexpensive enough that we don’t consider sepuku when we have those failures to connect!
My first VCR costed more than the top of the line Blu-ray at Best buy 2 weeks ago (of course we spent my wife’s bonus on the wireless speakers… so net loss, but dang it’s fun watching the coffee table dance to the Transformer’s theme song…).
To be clear, it was a Blu-ray disc, not the player.
“And then someone gets the book and opens it and what was in my brain is now in theirs.”
Taken quite literally, this could be the basis of a book.
@Jay E. It’d be a book version of a Pensieve, I guess.
I started reading your blog right after I discovered Old Man’s War, and it has been a joy and an inspiration to get to view the events of the next ten years. No one could deserve them more!
Very much looking forward to all the upcoming books, kittens, and what-not…
“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.”
Oh, so that was you? Thank you Secret Santa!
Glad you’ve moved in to a great frame of mind – being able to just write for the next 10 years has got to be an awesome feeling.
I think you’ve also evicted some problem tenants from your headspace, too, which is probably a good thing, they weren’t very caring of the rugs.
Hope 2016 continues in the same trend as 2015 for you and the family.
I get excited to see people succeed like that. When I started with the Old Man’s War, and proceeded to read everything else, binging like I do with any good stuff, I was also aware that I get to observe someone’s life and career in a slow motion of sorts. It’s grand to realize these Cinderella stories still happen. Hoping for many more ‘watershed’ years to come. Squee and yay!
“what was in my brain is now in theirs” I’m wise to your mind control now Mr. Scalzi. Or should I say, Mr. Imperator of the lizard people?
P.S. Tom Hanks would make a great 75 y.o. John Perry. I’d bet my money on the fact that thought was raised during that lunch :)
Yeah, this was a weird year. Listen, I need a literary mentor. My ideas are great and I know the language. But I could use some guidance. We’d probably get along.
And I would add, doing all of that while being a great guy who stands up for good causes and truly selflessly giving abundant help to others. You’re one of my role models, John, and I imagine that others feel the same way.
My personal favourite thing regarding your big contract was how the new party line amongst A Certain Crowd became This Is Proof Of Scalzi’s Weakness.
I mean, I don’t want to dredge up old fights? But c’mon – that’s still hilarity incarnate.
2015 was a pretty good year over here, too. I’m ‘way further back in that gosh-it-would-be-nice creative career track than you, but we did get noticed this year, making it to the Long List for two Grammy awards. (You’re nominated-for-consideration by a member of the Academy to their jury, that jury winnows that down to the Long List, which is voted by the membership down to the shortlist everybody knows about.)
And sure, we didn’t make it to the shortlist in either category, but we made it to the long list how freaking cool is that?! :D
They say that the biggest gift a writer can give you is to make you think.
I don’t know who ‘they’ are, or if they really say that, and in all honesty, I was already thinking about this, but:
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 it both cases they are even more fulfilling to me than I could have imagined when I was younger.
…there’s a whole pantload of shit to unpack just in that one sentence.
…maybe tomorrow. Maybe someday.
May 2016 be as much fun and successful for you as 2015. May you continue to remember what matters (Krissy, Athena, pets) and where you come from so you can enjoy your success. Happy New Year to you all. I look forward to seeing what you come up with next.
Tom Hanks? A meal with? Bah. I had meals with a red-headed Irish lass because I roll international like that. And to rub your knee cap in it, I’ve had lots of meals with her so :-P LOL
But seriously, Congrats! You’ve managed to set quite a few sets of pubic hair on fire with you writings, and your contract. If worse comes to worse I got a couple bucks I can spare you for future toastings. :-)
Thank you for your stories. For quite a few years now, they’ve greatly enriched my life and my imagination. And thank you for your amazing, ongoing connection to your fans. It’s wonderfully uncommon and very special.
Happy New Year.
This post could be a war cry, from the top of the mounded, moldering corpses of the vanquished enemy. “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 it both cases they are even more fulfilling to me than I could have imagined when I was younger.” Wow! I can’t imagine a better sentence to write.
“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 it both cases they are even more fulfilling to me than I could have imagined when I was younger.”
May we all get that feeling someday.
What you said.
But, I want to be TWICE as weak as our ‘steamed host.
No, make that THREE times as weak.
I’ve got expensive tastes.
pax / Ctein
Hey, guess that lowest difficulty level thing worked out for you. Congrats dude.
It sure did!
For avoidance of doubt, “Ohio Scamperbeasts” are my new favorite team (though I remain unavoidably emotionally attached to dogs who are man’s best friend rather than benevolent and implacable masters as the felines would have it). When you get bored of London please try Brussels where the beer is awesome & cheap. Happy New Year.
ctein: …I didn’t think about it that way.