2018: A year in review
There’s little to be said for 2018 that hasn’t already been said–most of it nooot pretty. For me, this year was marked by personal hardship, but also tremendous growth.
Writing was hard for me this year, as it was for many colleagues and siblings-in-arms. But I was a hungry-ass reader, and I took lateral risks with my art, when I could manage to do it. I beat down impostor syndrome and developed burgeoning badass syndrome (BBS™) in several avenues of my life. In many ways I’ve grown into a surer self.
A formative relationship, one of those growin’-up-together-across-continents sorts of things, ended. In its wake I spent a lot of time examining the meaning of partnership, commitment, friendship, and what it means to love people and let them in, and whether it’s ultimately worth it.
It feels odd, growing up (and for the first time, maybe, ageing) at the end of the world. Sunflower in an apocalyptic desert type of weird. Glut of golden light from a fatally skewed planetary revolution. Something like that. All the sunflower seeds of my heart bristling/bursting with the need to be part of some pattern, some foodchain. Something like that.
What I wrote: fiction
I published two stories this year. I’m fucking proud of them both. They represent where I’m at artistically as a short fiction writer better than anything before–in particular my Anathema Magazine piece “The Calm the Love the Traceless Land,” which is and will always be my first and proudest Beckettian piece.
One story for the ocean, and one for the desert. Landscapes of my heart. How it goes.
What I wrote: poetry
In February 2018, I sent out a poetry chapbook manuscript into the world for the first time ever.
I hit up five contests. This selection of seventeen poems was entitled BRICOLAGE ON SUNDAY, and it ultimately received a semi-finalist nod in the Tupelo Press Snowbound Chapbook Award and a finalist finish in the Omnidawn Poetry Chapbook Prize (selected by Carl Philips). I have a lot to learn, but I’m breathlessly proud of that.
I also had a poem selected for publication in a forthcoming issue of one of the great-aunts of London’s literary mag scene. I’ll announce as soon as I can.
I will spend a lot of 2019 focusing on getting a little bit better at poetry every day. Poetry is magic, yo, and who doesn’t want to do magic?
A first! gettin interviewed!
This was new and surreal! Please check out my conversation with spectacular person Milia Ayache over at Rusted Radishes, the American University of Beirut’s literary zine. We talked about a lot of shit. I made it weird. Milia vibed on the weirdness. It was a ball.
What I read this year
I read more long-form work than I’ve ever read before, this year. 51 books of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry so far, with 2 more that should edge in before the year is out.
Here are some that I want to talk to you about:
- Things We Found During the Autopsy by Kuzhali Manickavel: What a trip. I want to go on more trips like this, and I want Manickavel driving, with a phone on 5% battery and only google maps to guide us.
- Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay: So far, everyone I show a poem to from this collection cries. Train yourself w/ a bevy of onions and see if you can withstand this brilliant and painful work, ‘cos I could not.
- Don’t Think of an Elephant by George Lakoff: Politics. But important. Changed my brain, a bit.
- Everything Under by Daisy Johnson: Weirdly sticky little subcultural Englandy story of identity and family. I enjoyed Johnson’s prose experiments a lot.
- Monster Portraits by Sofia and Del Samatar: Need I say words? It’s a way better little book than you think. Don’t miss out. Foyles has a copy.
- Amatka by Karin Tidbeck: Fruiting bodiesssss. And fungal everything. Read this. Great little standalone dark SF.
- Homesick for Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh: After this short story collection, I stan Ottessa 4eva. I will read all of her stuff, eventually.
- Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Y. Davis: How have I never read Davis before? This tightened a few loose screws in my brain in the general vicinity of law enforcement and morality.
- The Power by Naomi Alderman: I really disliked this for many reasons, and found it to be pointedly anti-feminist. Feminism is not a role reversal of the current power dynamic, fam!
- The January Children by Safia Elhillo: Maybe my favourite poetry book of the year this year.
I try to keep tabs on what demographics I’m giving my reading hours to, and I didn’t do as well at reading women, POC, and LGBTQ+ folks this year as last year, because my audiobook selections tended towards cough/bland/ cough. Mostly because I have a hard time focusing on (better) literature through my ears. I will try to fix this in 2019.
I had a less impressive year of reading short fiction. After a few years of consistently reading 250+ short stories a year, I just got tired, and my discovery mechanisms were overall not doing what I needed them to. And this year I was sad to see some important venues shutter, in particular Liminal Stories and Shimmer.
I would like to balance things out and maybe read a handful of great short stories a month in 2019. I gotta figure out how.
What I listened to
Not an incredibly strong music year. I listened to A Black Mile to the Surface by The Manchester Orchestra basically on repeat. I also rocked Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer and Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy a fair amount.
What I saw
With all the hours I spend reading, working, and exercising, it’d be hard for me to be the biggest movie/TV buff. So a modest pool size, here. Nonetheless, standouts for me this year were:
2018 in one final thought
I took in a lot of beauty this year.
2019’s going to be the year to add a speck of new beauty to the world.