Dear 2011…

So, 2011. You’re headed out, no time for a chat? That’s okay. *points at chair* Sit down, this won’t take long.

You think that’s a request? It’s not. Sit down.

Thanks.

You were better than 2010 by a long shot, but that’s not really a compliment, is it. 2010 sucked so hard for me, you were the year of recovery. So, measuring by that benchmark, pretty much anything you did would have been okay. I’m not denigrating your ability to suck less than the previous year, not by a long shot. No way. I’m just saying, that’s not doing you justice.

In the wider world, there were earthquakes and tsunamis and wars and insurrections. There were widespread protests, and they look like they’ll continue. I’d say it’s about damn time, and I only hope the Occupy movement gets bigger and more widespread. So, thanks for that. I guess. But the earthquakes etc.? Not so much. Well, you can’t help that, can you? Nope. You’re just the year, doing your job.

In my own tiny corner of the rock called Terra, well. You sucked way, way less than 2010, and I did a lot of healing. I started the year finally-divorced and ended up actually contemplating going out to coffee with a person or two. I also made my peace with the fact that I’m never going to hear an apology from certain people, and that’s just the way it is. I found out that surviving the years of survival is in some ways the hardest task, and that yes, time does heal broken things. That sort of knowledge is a spiral–you always keep coming back to it, in deeper and deeper layers. Like ogres.

I also found out I can eat lasagna again, under certain circumstances. That I can nod and smile when some of my former abusers say, “I miss you…” Well, of course you do. But you miss the idea of me more than the actual me. Which isn’t really missing me at all…so I can put aside the guilt I feel. It is not my fault you miss what you thought I was instead of what I actually am. Which is a human being with actual rights, thoughts, dignity, and my own reasons for keeping those secrets you’re so terrified I may tell. (Go ahead and be terrified. If it keeps you away from my door, so be it.)

But, 2011, you were all in all not so bad. You taught me how to be reasonably happy again, 2011. You weren’t optimal, but then again, I wasn’t at my best either. We’re about even. You did what you could, and so did I. I think we can call this one a success on both sides, even if neither of us ended up where we wanted to be. Thanks for the time and the opportunity. You were very patient when I was in a hurry, and pulled me along when I really wanted to be still and stagnate. All in all, we did pretty well together, considering. I finished a few books, I had some laughs. I put in another year of raising two of the most beautiful human beings on the planet, and they managed to teach me a lot inside your (completely arbitrary, but that’s another blog post) boundaries. So, thank you for that.

I see you fidgeting and eying the door. You’re tired, and rightly so. You’ve been a hell of a year. Feels like you’re just as eager to be gone as I am to see the new turn of the wheel. Still, we’ve got a few hours here in this corner of the world. Have a drink, and relax for a little bit. I make no demands on you–you can totes hurry out the door and slam it if you want. That’s okay. But it might be so much nicer if we just hang out here, you and I, just a writer and her year, and give each other a weary smile and say, “We made it.”

Yeah. We made it, both of us.

*lifts glass*

Good for us.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

The Dragons Are Mourning

I got to push Anne McCaffrey’s wheelchair once.

It was at an event in Seattle–the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, I believe. One of Anne’s researchers was a friend, and I pitched in to help that weekend, as well as to attend the ceremony.

The best part was standing next to Anne, in front of a glass case holding the typed manuscript of Dragonflight. I’m not gonna lie: I cried. It was that beautiful. It was something I never in a million years I thought I would have a chance to do. It was magic.

Anne was warm and generous, with an ever-mischievous twinkle in her eye. We emailed a bit. I will never forget how gracious she was to a starting-out author. She told me she liked the Watcher series and the Danny Valentine books. I’d sign copies for her, and her researcher would send them to Ireland. It made me warm and happy inside to think she was reading them–that I could maybe, in some small way, give her a tiny bit of joy in return for the great gift of Pern, the dragons, Restoree, the coelura…such richness she gave us, so unstintingly.

Anne passed away today. The world is sadder, duller, and a little more frayed. The dragons are mourning, and the harps are stilled.

Rest peacefully, ma’am. Thank you for your books, and thank you also for having time to be gracious to a scared newbie writer. You were endlessly kind, and I thank the gods we still have your books.

Thank you. Thank you so much. Sleep well.

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A Warning

I know you read this.

I know you’re watching.

I know you sweat sometimes, thinking of the secrets I hold. I know you think that just because you terrified me many years ago that I’m terrified now. There is, however, one thing you’ve forgotten.

Let me just take it from the top.

While you were busy fucking with those weaker than yourself, I was busy getting strong. Every time I hit the floor, it was only to get back up again. Every hit, every stab, every moment of abuse made me stronger. Did you not realize you were training me to become dangerous? Did you not think that one day, the small helpless thing you did whatever you wanted to would grow teeth and claws?

I got out. I got away. I glued the broken bits back together. The idiot stubbornness in me that kept me getting up off the floor every time you beat me down has become a bright polished edge. I wrapped my hilt with leather, I trained myself to push past the pain, I did what I never thought I could do. While you have contented yourself with fat laziness, carrion-picking at the bones of easy prey, I have become something else, whether I wanted to or not.

And I have been patient.

I have been so fucking patient for other people. The comfort of those still in your orbit has been my reason, because no matter how little I care for you, I care for them a great deal. I have kept secrets that eat me from the inside out like swallowed glass shards, for their sake. I have kept my mouth shut, I have swallowed rage and the unwitting insults of people who love me and just wish everyone could get along. I have relentlessly tried to be a better person than I ever thought I could be, because, after all, I did not want to be like you.

But you have gone too fucking far.

You make the mistake of thinking that because I am gentle, I am also stupid and harmless. You are, quite simply, wrong.

Here it is: you have been adrift in the shallow, warm waters of my patience. This is no longer the case. Put one toe over my boundaries again, disturb my peace, engage in that manipulation or that naked aggression you are so used to deploying, and you will no longer be in that safe harbour.

I am no longer a child you can injure with impunity. I am a grown-up. More than that, I am a mother, and my curses carry weight. More even than that, I have the ability to dial 911, and I have the ruthless willingness to do whatever is necessary should you trouble me one iota further.

I have put up with this for years. I am serving notice: that phase is over. You have been warned.

That is all.

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An Ill And Tired Little Mongoose

So I’ve been glassy-eyed with mild fever for a few days, aching all over, and with a nose not as full of snot as it could be. It took my writing partner saying, “Maybe it’s flu?” for me to figure out that perhaps, yes, some sort of virus. Great. Just wonderful.

What the hell? I hate being sick. I don’t have time. I have climbing to do, running to get out of the way six days a week, revisions packed tight for the next six months and oh yes, two books to write in the next six months too. (Well, six to ten months. STILL.) My immune system needs to get on the stick, for heaven’s sake.

Let’s see, what can I report? Copyedits for the first Bannon & Clare were finally bled dry and sent in a neat package back to the editor today. The Little Prince has expressed a desire to take karate classes. (This is going to be fun.) I am still addicted to Glitch. (Also fun.) It’s concert season for the Princess’s choir. (Oh God.) Plus, I am eying the upcoming holidays the way a mongoose eyes a cobra she’s not quite sure she’s big enough to bite to death. (I could write about why my childhood makes me view holidays as poisonous, but that would take more energy than I have today.) Oh, and one of those books I have to write? Deals with plague. OH, THE IRONY.

I know I should write the last half of the Battle of Pelennor Sunroom. It’s just…release hath followed upon release, and I went on an Internet semi-fast for a little bit. Just didn’t have the bandwidth, plus, it is my firm belief that a writer should not respond to reviews, and if one cannot keep one’s mouth shut it is best and easiest just not to look. This is the same principle I avoid watching television on.

On the other hand, the smell of autumn and falling leaves does not disturb me nearly as much as it has in years past. The Moon last night smiled down at me as I jaunted out to the rubbish bin, and it struck me that at this time two years ago, I was just barely afloat; a year ago I was healing but still fragile. The faith that time will heal a wound or two is a fragile thing, and cold comfort at best, but it kept me going during the dark times. (Along with a healthy dose of tough love from my Chosen Family.) It is always a shock to look back and see how far one has come.

Now if I could just kick this virus in its snot-soaked, irritating little nads and send it crying away, I’d be all set.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Valuable Skills Learned By Telling Lies For A Living

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames, where there’s tons more writing advice, contests, and pie! (Okay, maybe no pie.) Check us out!

Every once in a while, I like to sit down and think of about five things to make a post. Since I’m exhausted and stare-eyed after a long, very busy week that went straight through the weekend without even pausing to nod, I see this as a very good strategy for today. So, without further ado, here’s Five Things Writing Will Teach You, Or, Valuable Skills Learned By Telling Lies For A Living.

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