Eight weeks away from Kansas! I miss some things there — friends, cat, Taco Zone — but these are the only things that have brought on the slightest pang, and the cat can always be relocated. May the next place I go be as beloved as Iceland is.
2023 had all sorts of things going on for me:
- After a lot of unhappiness and stress, I sorted out a phased retirement from the English department. I am now a quarter of the way through that! Time flies etc.
- Also after a lot of stress, the Ad Astra Center at KU’s AAI shut down. The nonprofit Ad Astra Institute took over all the really interesting parts of that work, and my summer workshops were presented in affiliation with the new Ad Astra.
- I taught my summer workshops again, and loved them again.
- My mother broke her hip and recovered amazingly. During the flurry of uncertainty and PT immediately afterward, I saw a lot more of her and of my brother. As of today, at the age of 89, she steps down from running her bookstore in Rice Lake.
- I did most of the work of clearing out the house of my mentor James Gunn, which was personally interesting and emotionally satisfying. It is a way of saying my final farewells.
- In August, I actually took a vacation, going to a cabin with my brother and his clan. This meant a lot to me; I have friends I travel with and celebrate things with, but this was an actual family thing.
- I saw Chris and Lauren married, and it was beautiful, moving, and joyous. And, bonus, I met her lovely family and friends, and reconnected with Scott and Jeanine and Arian and Ben.
- I was guest of honor for World Fantasy Con in KC. This was an enormous honor, and also a lot of fun.
- The Privilege of the Happy Ending: S/M/L Stories came out, also very satisfying. And I handed in a new story to Sunday Morning Transport for publication in the new year. And I did a lot of work toward the crow book, including a bunch of words (which may need to be scrapped, but, eh).
- The American Tour found itself abruptly orphaned. I’m still working out what happens next; details as I get them.
- I picked up an interesting freelance project, about which more at some point.
And of course it all ended in Scotland and now Iceland: two beautiful places where I was given the space to write and think. And what have I been thinking about? Life, writing, beauty, landscape, feet, ageing and death, words, color, home and homes, family and friends and love. You know, the usual.
2024 is looking pretty busy already. I am teaching at KU this spring, and I have my personal workshops scattered through the year. I have another family trip (or perhaps even two!) and a few interesting freelance things and appearances. I will have to plan what to do about The American Tour (and perhaps The River Bank). I may be moving houses or I may not; I may be leaving Lawrence though probably not yet — but if not yet, then soon after that. I have writing I want to do. I want to handle anxiety and dread better than I have. There’s health stuff.
And that’s me. For you, 2023 was wonderful or terrible, but for most of you it was a combination of these; and when you look forward at 2024, you are seeing possibilities and probabilities, anticipation and dread compounded. Whatever your expectations of life and the future, I hope that you are comforted and delighted with how they play out. I’ll be rooting for us all.