It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the year when I published my first novel, and it was the year when I lost and found faith in my fellow citizens over and over again. 2016 and 2017 were bad for a lot of people. In 2016 we had the worst presidential election season of my lifetime, and the worst election. In 2017 we saw the consequences of that election play out. Not since I went through a pretty serious depressed period have I been as hopeless as I was in late 2016.
But 2016 was the year I sold my first novel and 2017 was the year it came out.
I have a superstition I can’t shake about naming and enjoying my good fortune. I often have to remind myself that after years of dreaming about publishing a novel, now I have, with a major publisher, and in 6 other countries. Not only that, I’ve been able to quit my day job, and the novel I published is the one I dreamed about writing and publishing for my entire adult life.
One of the wonderful and frustrating things about life is that when you climb that big mountain, the final step to the summit isn’t that different from all the steps that have come before, and by the time you near the summit, you can see other mountains you’d like to climb. It is wonderful because it means that life is not over when you achieve something, and it’s frustrating because there is no sublime moment of completion, a moment where you win your badge and get to be forever happy.
I think the most purely joyful part of the whole experience was the offer for the trilogy, back in January 2016, though moments like seeing the cover for the first time have also been quite wonderful.
The election produced some deep soul searching for me. I’ve been politically informed and opinionated for most of my adult life, but never very active. I felt very hopeless after the election, but I decided that even if my worst fears came true, I would have rather spent this time trying to make things better than simply watching things go wrong. I feel good about that decision, and plan to continue in 2018.
I also decided that I would try to make my political reading and speech purposeful. Whenever I post something political online, I try to make it a call-to-action or something optimistic and hopeful. That is what I would like to contribute to the conversation–let others point out how bad things are.
Some important things I did in 2017:
- I went to more protests and marches every month than I had gone to my entire life leading up to 2017: the Women’s March, the Tax March, many, many marches and protests for The Right to Know Act in NYC, a law that would help improve community/police relations.
- I learned how to marshal protests
- I helped organize and run a fundraiser for Justice Committee
- I became politically active in other ways with SURJ, SisterDistrict, and Working Families Party, to name a few
- I donated to many political campaigns and non-profits
- I sprained my ankle the same weekend that the Muslim Ban first came down, so I watched on twitter and through the news as my fellow citizens impressed me with their patriotism and dedication to this country’s highest ideals, sad and scared and hopeful and angry and frustrated that I couldn’t go myself
- I tried failed to sell my apartment and move–keep your fingers crossed for me for 2018
- I stopped doing Strongman and got back into Crossfit. I always said I’d only do Strongman as long as it was more rewarding than not, and this year it really stopped being rewarding. I competed at Strongman Nationals in 2015, which was a wonderful experience, and after that, the competitions became less rewarding. I had gone as far as I wanted to go in the sport.
- I went on book tour and met wonderful, supportive people from across the country
- Leading up to and on my birthday, I went to Miami to help out with Operation Carelift, getting supplies to Puerto Rico in collaboration with Spirit Airlines. It was incredibly rewarding.
These cans of tuna are surprisingly comfortable! Spent ten hour moving heavy things yesterday, organizing supplies and volunteers, and packing boxes for #PRCareLift. Another ten hours today and tomorrow. Good news is local folks in Aguadilla are starting to get some supplies from other sources so our ground crew is taking the boxes further up into the hills. Still, PR desperately needs all the help it can get. I recommend Hispanic Federation for your donations.
In 2018, The Sea Queen will come out. I will write several drafts of The Golden Wolf, and likely start the writing project that comes after that. Hopefully I will move. I plan to start freelancing so I can remain a (mostly) full-time author.
And I plan to be even more politically active. Happily, I think a lot of the country is with me.