Happy New Year from Short Story Review!

Cover art by Yang Xueguo

Yang Xueguo
Yang Xueguo

I don’t post a lot of personal info on Short Story Review, but at this time of year, when so many are reflecting on and reviewing the last twelve months, I’d like to share my own brief reflection.

2013 was both the worst and the best year of my life (so far).

It was a great writing year; in February I saw my first professionally published stories appear in print. In total, I had three poems and six stories appear, three in professional-paying magazines. (For a listing of those stories and poems, please visit the Stories & Poems section of my website.)

Unfortunately, February also turned out to be the scariest month. My current-husband, then-fiancé Peter underwent spinal surgery to have two tumors removed. The tumors were, thankfully, benign, but the day after his surgery, I totaled our recently-purchased car in a wreck and broke my ankle. I was forced to undergo ankle surgery. This left Peter and I unable to fend for ourselves. Luckily, some of our amazing friends and family came to our rescue, helping us clean up our house, driving us to appointments, and giving us some much-needed moral support.

Katie Crumpton & I, before walking
The good side of being off my feet for eight weeks was it gave me time to work on my thesis, a short story collection entitled Strange Monsters, part of my final requirements for the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA Program in Creative Writing. Then in July Peter and I took the train to Maine for graduation, where I gave my first full reading. I read “The Wanderers,” that first published story of mine. It went better than I ever could have expected.
In April, my second nephew was born. In May, I changed jobs and went to work for an educational company where I wrote lesson plans and taught creative writing to kids. In July, Peter got a full-time job, making us much more financially secure. Over the summer, we helped my family prepare my late grandmother’s house to be sold. In August, I attended my first WorldCon in San Antonio and had a blast. In September, I put on the second Art & Words Show.
Post-wedding, dazed and relieved
In October, I was on my first convention panels at FenCon. A week later Peter and I got married; we asked our friend, poet Evan Klavon, to officiate, and he delivered a beautiful and fun ceremony, complete with The Top 5 Big Lebowski Quotes on Marriage (# 4: “Strikes and gutters, ups and downs”).
After we returned from our honeymoon, our cat, Don, ate two feet of ribbon and had to have emergency surgery, putting us in further debt. In November, I was laid off. But in December, I found a new, better job. We spent the holidays with both sides of our family.
Obligatory cat photo
It’s a lot for one year. There were moments when I thought I would break. But I didn’t. I struggled with seeing the positive, with feeling sorry for myself and Peter. I spent way too much escapist time on the Internet. But I also did good, productive things; I channeled emotions into writing. I wrote a whole host of stories about people reaching their breaking point, and breaking. I made daily gratitude lists. And here I am, here we all are, at the end of 2013, heading into 2014. I wish all of you more of the good and less of the bad, but more than that I wish you all the ability to process and channel the bad, when it comes your way, into something good, something beautiful.

2 responses to “Happy New Year from Short Story Review!”

  1. I think the “Years of Mixed Blessings” are the ones we remember best and learn from the most. (Having just had one, I can relate.) And they sure do make us appreciate the “Quiet Years of Steady Improvement.” Hope 2014 is in the latter category for us both!

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