2013 in review

2013 was rough–stressful in both good and bad ways, and looking back I’m floored at the amount of stuff our family has been through. There’s been travel, moving, new additions, injuries, and work–we’ve run the gamut, and I’m proud of all of us for making it through with relative good humor and patience. Hopefully 2014 will go a little easier on us.

A rough timeline of events:

  • A work trip to Hawaii in January made for a picture perfect start to the year
  • In April, we adopted Atticus. I had no idea one puppy could be so much work! But he is a sweetheart, and he’s calmed down quite a bit since we first brought him home. He likes to lay on my feet on the couch at night while I write or work.
  • In May, I traveled to Italy for work. Our team stayed in a rustic countryside villa in the hills outside of Florence, which was as amazing as it sounds.
  • We sold our condo in central Maine and moved north (the nearest Starbucks is in Canada, if that tells you how far north we are), back to my childhood home, to be closer to family. Easily one of the best decisions we could have made. The girls are thriving, and we’re loving all this space.
  • Gwen turned two in September, and boy, did she ever turn two. She owns her two-ness. She climbs, she runs, she’s maniacally happy and sad in one breath, she’s persistent and driven, and she wants to do everything by herself. Yep, definitely two.
  • Speaking of Gwen, we had that burn accident in September, which landed her in the hospital for three days and scared us all pretty badly. Thankfully everything turned out OK, we held it together, and she came out mostly unscathed. Though now she likes to tell everyone, “Mama spill hot coffee on my monkey shirt! Hurt. I cry.”
  • Another trip, this time to San Francisco and Santa Cruz for the Automattic company meetup.
  • We were without regular internet access until November, which made things difficult for working at home, but we managed. Got pretty familiar with the very few free wi-fi spots in town, and drank a lot of Tim Horton’s coffee.
  • I wrote not one but two novel-length pieces of X-Files fanfic, completing my first NaNoWriMo! Woohoo! I’m in the process of publishing the first novel here.
  • November also marked my second European trip of the year, this time to London, and I really want to go back; I feel like I could have spent weeks there.
  • I worked a lot. I may have spent more time in pajamas than is considered socially acceptable. I continue to marvel at how lucky I am to work with the people I do, and to get paid to do the stuff I do. From home. In my pajamas with the Ninja Turtles on them. Yeah. I love my job.
  • I struggled with depression, and it took a lot of time and convincing for me to acknowledge it, but with help from an SSRI and therapy, I’m ending the year from a happier, more balanced place.
  • Ellie turned five in December, which feels like a personal milestone for me. When she was a newborn, I remember thinking of five as some magical, mystical age in the distant future, and now it’s here, and I am so proud of my smart, funny, beautiful little girl. She drives me crazy, but I love her to pieces and I can’t wait to see what the next five years bring.

Upcoming in 2014? More travel. Potty training (redux). More fanfic writing. Working. Family. And hopefully a happier, more positive outlook on the whole.

NaNoWriMo, here I come!

X-Files fanfic cover in progressI mentioned in one of my last posts that I’m participating in NaNoWriMo in November, and I may be setting myself up for failure. Next month is ridiculous, schedule-wise, with each of us traveling for a week, and with Thanksgiving, and my tendency to edit as I write, I have no idea how I’ll reach the requisite 1,700 words per day. But hey, you never know.

Until a few months ago, the longest paper I’d ever written just barely crested 10,000 words, and it was a college essay for Canadian Studies about Pierre Trudeau; a fascinating guy in his own right, but not a particularly fascinating paper. I was known to drop college courses if the syllabus required any papers greater than 10,000 words, and I purposely chose a major that didn’t require writing a traditional thesis.

I’m hard-pressed to think of anything that interests me enough to hold my intrigue for 50,000 words, so the idea of writing a novel for fun seemed like an annoying way to spend my free time.

That said, I used to write all the time; poetry and short stories, plus blogging (before they called it blogging), but never anything longer than a few thousand words. That would require an attention span.

Speaking of things that do hold my attention, a few months ago I started re-watching The X-Files and reading the new X-Files Season 10 comics, and that got me thinking about the epic story arcs that show generated (and all the resulting loose ends). 2013 marks the series’ 20th anniversary (oh, hey, I feel old) so I’ve had this show on the brain, and I started thinking about a story.

I’ve written XF fanfic before, and hopefully it will never see the light of day, because I spent most of the stories thinking up excuses for the characters to fall into bed together. (In my defense, the sexual frustration in the first seven seasons is almost unbearable, even now, watching the show as an adult.) After a few nights of mulling over one particular plot idea, I got the crazy idea in my head to start writing fanfic again, this time with a storyline that doesn’t read like soft-core porn. I wanted to stay true to the original series and the characters, and follow up with the William story arc.

That fic is currently sitting at over 60,000 words. It still needs editing and beta reading and more editing, and I feel like I’ll be plucking away at it forever. But I did it, and now my life list is happy.

Write a novel(-length piece of fan fiction) — check!

I’ve outlined my ideas for the sequel, which I intend to be my NaNoWriMo project. Again, I tend to edit as I write, which is not great for speed, so I’m going to try to curb the urge to tweak every last word. I’ll try to write scenes as they come to me, rather than writing from beginning to end, then piece them together after the fact.

In any case, I’m happy to have a project to work on that’s different from my usual fare. If you’re writing this year, please be my friend on NaNoWriMo! I’m going to need all the motivation I can get.

of web geekery and other things

Oh, hey! Yes, I’m still pregnant. I passed my due date six days ago and it looks like I’m going to pass my original due date, which was… today! I’m sure you can imagine how thrilled I am about that. I’m just telling myself all the extra waiting now means I’ll have a shorter labor than last time–although I think the odds are in my favor there, regardless.

Since the kiddo is in school and I’m on leave, I’ve been distracting myself with WordPress themes. I finally consolidated all the work I do with WordPress–personal, professional and otherwise–into one portfolio. I’ve been working on some new free themes, mostly as a way to teach myself some of the more advanced techniques in theme development. Plus I’m always looking for an excuse to design a new website. Some things never change!

I’ve also been tossing around some photo ideas. A coworker found a small, perfect bird’s nest on the ground and gave it to me a few weeks ago–she knows me too well! I can’t wait to play with it, and now that the university is back in session there are more potential models in the area. Fall is my favorite time of year for photos, so I’m hoping the new baby won’t totally drain me of all motivation. Even one good photo shoot would be an excellent way to wrap up this rather unproductive year.

Of course I would be a fountain of creative energy all of a sudden… right before I’m supposed to give birth and devote a substantial amount of time to mommyhood. Ahh, well. Maybe I’ll get lucky and finally strike the balance between daily life and creativity I’ve been seeking since… forever. A girl can dream!