Looking Back and Looking Forward: The Year in Review and Preview

For many the New Year is a time of reflection and resolution. I am no different. It’s a chance to look back on accomplishments, and set goals for the next 365 days. Looking back on the past year in writing, I accomplished quite a bit. Looking forward, I hope to accomplish quite a bit more.

The last year was spent pursuing an education. My master’s degree will be wrapping up this year. On Monday, I start work on my thesis. The curriculum has worked out much better than I could have even planned. I went in to the program hoping that close reading of great literature would make me a better writer. What I didn’t expect is that so many of the books would have a direct connection to my type of writing. Every class I took had classic works of dark fiction. I read Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Thomas Preckett Prest’s String of Pearls, Richard Marsh’s The Beetle, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Marie Corelli’s Ziska: The Problem of a Wicked Soul, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, among other classic dark works. I read both Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw and Bram Stoker’s Dracula twice. This semester, I will read Hound of the Baskervilles for the second time in a class on detective fiction that will include works by Poe, Doyle, and Hammett. Overall, I’ve been happy with the sort of books I’ve studied.

I love classes. I love learning. Even after I am done with grad school, I will keep reading literary criticism. I’ve also got plans to take more classes in the future. That being said, I am ready to get back to producing literature, rather than just analyzing it.  It was a good year for publications. “Collectors” appeared in Separate Worlds, “Waking” appeared in Epiphany Magazine, “Victor’s Indifference” appeared in The Rusty Nail, “Hatched” appeared in Dark Eclipse, “Bloodline” appeared in Hungur Magazine, and “Flute of the Dead” appeared in Bete Noire. (You can find copies of these stories under “The Work” link at the top of the page.)  I have more short fiction waiting to go out, but I also want to get around to rewrites of longer work. I have two and half novels on my hard drive waiting for edits.

Officially, my degree won’t be complete until July, which will be over halfway through the next year, but I am already looking forward to what comes after that. Novels, short stories, a collection, and maybe even research on the literary history of the haunted house. The point of my education is not only to learn a new skill in literary criticism and theory, but to become a better writer. I am eager to test its influence and continue pushing my literary career forward. That will be a never-ending, life-long process, but hopefully this year will provide a good spark to get the fire burning.

I am excited for the lifetime of writing that I have ahead of me. I hope you stick around and see how it all plays out. Fly or crash and burn, it should be an interesting trip.

365 Days of Chasing Dreams

2012 proved to be a year of transition. Over the last few years, my family has been in flux. After the divorce, my time with my son became much more uncertain. This year, after she moved halfway across the country, I found myself seeing him nearly all the time. It has been great, although I dread the inevitable equalization, when I have to deal with daily life without him.

I began a Master’s Degree program at Fort Hays State University, focusing on Literary Arts. It has been a lot of fun, so far, and I especially look forward to a class on monsters in Gothic literature this Spring. I have academic aspirations to research dark literature in the future. This class should be a great starting point for my study.

The Confabulator Café, the project I began with a local group of writers, celebrated a year online, with no signs of slowing down in 2013. You can find my column there every Monday, with flash fiction published there once a month. I just wrote a re-telling of The Brothers Grimm’s Pied Piper, which will be available there in a couple of weeks. I will post an update when it goes live.

2012 was also a successful year for submissions. According to the good people at Duotrope, I submitted to 55 markets this year. Thanks to that constant stream of submissions, I had writing published in Insomnia Press and Danse Macabre Du Jour. In addition, I have several publications coming out this year. You can see the list and their tentative release dates by clicking “The Work” on the menu above. You can find links to the published pieces there, as well.

What is in store for 2013? There will be a lot of time spent writing literary criticism. I will continue to contribute each week to The Confabulator Café, althoguh I have surrendered my editorial duties there, for now. As for publications, I hope for more of the same, but that is one of those things you can’t control in writing. All you can do is keep writing, keep submitting, and hope someone likes it. Hopefully, I will finish Heaven’s Edge and re-write Kill Creek Road some time in there.

It is an odd thing. 365 days seems like such a long time, yet it disappears so fast, and no matter how much you have done, you never feel like you have done enough. There is always so much left to do. Here’s to the next 365 days, and all the dreams left to chase.