2017. That number just sounds cooler already.
I have a real love/hate thing going on with 2016. On one hand, it’s the worst year in the history of human existence (maybe even worse than the infamous 2009). On the other, some pretty great things happened.
To me. Not to the world. Again, just awful for the world.
I got a new job and—more importantly—a desk on which I can display toys. Met some awesome people. Expanded my board game and Transformers collections exponentially, getting some ‘grails’ on both fronts (Firefly the Game and Armada Starscream in the same year?!).
It was a year book-ended with Star Wars. Started the year riding high on The Force Awakens and finished by absorbing anything and everything Rogue One. In the middle-ish, I was lucky enough to be able to attend a weekend-long Transformers convention in Chicago with my lovely lady (she even bought a Transformer for herself, you guys!)
I wrote. Really wrote. Not the self-promoting ‘everybody look at me’ writing I usually do, but the close-to-the-vest, really-believe-in-this-story writing I’ve always wanted to do. Where I’m not worried about what genre it is, who the audience will be, where the chapter breaks are. Just wrote. Really wrote. Often times at the expense of this blog, my Twitter, my Facebook, etc.
And you know what? It felt amazing.
So this is the perfect time to bridge the gap between the awesome and the shitty.
Let’s start with the gray area: my book went out of print. With the letter I received in the mail earlier this week, Coming of Mage is officially no more. I knew there was always a chance of this, I just didn’t know it would feel so good.
I mean, it sucks not having a book on the market anymore, but…it’s so freeing. I own the book again. I can rewrite it, find an agent to pedal it, self-publish it, write those pesky sequels I have outlined, or buy every remaining copy of it and set fire to them in a legally-appropriate bonfire! I won’t do the latter, but the point is I could! And that freedom is astounding. One day I’ll fully tell you the Sad Ballad of My Book—but not today.
2016 was, like, a Celebrity Red Wedding. Bowie and Prince hit me pretty hard, but the recent loss of our beloved Princess Leia was the most crushing. Star Wars came to me at a very formidable age. It rescued me in a lot of ways. Inspired me. Shaped me. And while I accept death as a part of life, something seemed eternal about the trio of Han, Luke, and Leia. Untouchable. Invincible. We lost Han onscreen and Leia off. And, almost separately, we lost Carrie Fisher, a storyteller that fought her battles in front of all of us, with words, humor, and honesty.
When our heroes die, all bets are off. Everything we think we know goes sideways.
Of course there were the real tragedies. Riots and murder, misogyny and mistrust—the fact that a monster was elected President on a campaign of hate, ignorance, and too many historical red flags to count. And, perhaps the biggest tragedy: not knowing who your neighbors are anymore.
I keep saying I have high hopes for 2017. I want to write more, create more. Get away from Netflix, and get back to board game design. I miss hosting a podcast. Blog more. Experience more. Eat less sweets (starting Tuesday—I’m not an animal). I have a Post-it in my wallet reminding me of all this, by the way.
But I must do it all with a dark cloud hanging overhead. None of us know the future, but it has become even more difficult to predict. Like most folks, I’ve been soul sick since early November. We feel it, don’t we? That nagging feeling things will not be okay, that America won’t be great again. That ‘great’ is subjective.
But, just like my book going out of print, there’s something freeing about that too. The complete unknown. A great coworker of mine once said “I’m just going to drink coffee and be positive.” I think she was just talking about nursing her hangover, but it resonated. It became our mantra to get through tough shifts. A way to connect after our paths parted. And, six years later, it has become the only real strategy for how we’re all going to move forward. Move on, as so many of our conservative friends have suggested.
Drink coffee, be positive. This is how we’ll get by.
Happy New Year.