Yep, it’s one of those “year in review” posts, but unfortunately I don’t have any funny or cute pictures, but this is where I get a little personal, so comments will be off for this, unfortunately, so here we go.
Breaking Ties was finished up this year, edited, and prepped for publication in April of 2015, and it had so many stops and starts that I can’t believe that I finished it. Still, 2014 is the year where the Damned Coyotes were finally named, I got reviewed by Romantic Times, and got invited to Coastal Magic as a featured author, so while the output for my pro writing was slower than I’d have liked, I took steps this year largely thanks to my readers and fans, thank you.
2014 is also the year I got back into writing commissions, and including commission writing, my total output for 2014 is 312, 992 words, and I haven’t written that much since grad school when my MFA was depending on writing as much as I could, and turning out a version of Lightning Rod that could best be described as a Frankensteinian mess. I’ve written some stuff this year that’s made me outright cringe at my keyboard, but it was for a good cause, namely getting me to the con on the barest shoestring I could afford, but I’ll be there, and I’m really looking forward to it.
Over the summer I stepped on the scale, looked at the number and how close it was to another number, and decided, “I need to lose weight.” I tried doing some crunches and it didn’t go well, then I found a workout DVD and found that was a lot easier to get through. I started a regimen, cut my calories, and I’ve lost 40 pounds in total since I started, largely running on the minor victories, like how I needed to get a belt because my pants wouldn’t stay up if I moved faster than a brisk walk, then my pants from grad school fit, and now THEY need the belt. I feel better, have more energy, and I’m not spending as much on food, which is good considering my resolution for 2015.
The Day Job
2014 is where I finished my 2nd and 3rd semesters as an adjunct professor of English, primarily doing composition courses, and I had some great students and some total nightmares, but it’s really the year where I came aware of just how shitty being an adjunct can be. Don’t get me wrong, I love teaching, I wouldn’t put 150 miles on my car every day commuting if I didn’t, but the pay, let’s face it, sucks. Imagine working a full time job that requires a master’s degree, has zero benefits, and pays less than a server at McDonald’s. That’s the reality not only for me, but for adjuncts all over the country, and the only reason I’m speaking out about it here is because this is the only place I can talk about it.
My pen name isn’t known to my colleagues, only the head of the department who has a copy of my C.V., mostly because it’s a rural area and I don’t want it getting out that I write fiction with gay protagonists. It’s bad enough that I have to wait until halfway through the semester to refer to my boyfriend as someone other than my “friend” because it could result, and has resulted, in someone dropping my class. Yep, this happens even in New York, but you learn to deal with it, keep your head down and your mouth shut, because adjuncts are, by basis, on thin ice. You don’t rock the boat, otherwise you might lose the minimum number of classes you need to make rent, and that’s without worrying about the breaks between semester where the income dries up to purely royalties and commissions.
2014 is where I lost some self-respect too, in regards to my job, because when you’re an adjunct, the only thing on your mind career-wise is making the jump out of Adjunct Hell, and you can only do that when someone higher up leaves, transfers, or retires. So when a colleague disclosed to me that they had just received some troubling news, I did, to my credit, feel bad for them first, but on the way back to the adjunct office, the possible opportunity pulsed in the back of my brain, that a position might open in the next year. I didn’t act on the information, but I felt like a fuck because I considered it, and for considering it, I’m deeply sorry. Here’s hoping I can hold onto that in 2015.
I finally paid off my car this year, it’s officially mine, insured, in my name, all that, so that’s of course when it decided to need a new wheel bearing, new brakes on all 4 tires, and all of its plugs changed. The latter I learned how to do myself, but I swear it’s like the car knew I was trying to save for something, because every time I made headway, something broke down. I’m saving up again, so one of the wheels is making a knocking sound, because of course it is.
Happier notes here. The BF and I hit 2 years in October, and this year I met his family over the summer, and spent Thanksgiving with them. It’s different than the sort of family time that I’m used to, in that it’s more open, the jokes a little more risque, pastimes more geeky, but it’s also more welcoming. It’s not my family wasn’t welcoming, but we put on more of a show of it, whereas my BF’s family just welcomes you in, and you’re, well, there. There aren’t really any roles to play, though at Thanksgiving I had to play the “friend” role, which I’ve got practice with from previous relationships. I’ve covered the plans for February in a previous post, but it’s still on, and 2014 is the year we really pushed our communication forward, talked about serious subjects rationally, made plans and set outlines. It’s the year where talking about the future became more than just a fun fantasy exercise, and actually got into the nitty-gritty of it all, and while the romance of the situation wasn’t pulsating in the background, the reality of the planning wasn’t scary or intimidating.
It’s been an issue for me in past relationships, primarily concerning money, and what I wanted to be sure of was when we took the big steps, I could afford to stand alone should everything go to hell, and that’s the thing we’re working on: me remembering that we’re in this together, and we’re going to do this together, so I don’t have to try to handle it all myself. Still though, we’re planning contingencies for the worst together, because we’re both past the point of whimsy and naivete. We’re a team, we compliment each other well, because let’s face it, I need his optimism every now and then just like he occasionally needs a reminder to consider the long-term. I can imagine going forward without him, but I don’t want to. That’s one of the many reasons I’m going to ask him to marry me, along with the love thing, because you have to have that in there somewhere.
And that brings me to the last bit of it, what I resolve to do in 2015: Spend New Year’s Eve 2015 with my fiancee in our own place. The BF and I are moving in together formally, hopefully in March, April at the latest, and we’ve worked out a budget for an apartment, utilities, food, fuel, all that, the bitch is the moving expenses. First month we’ll have covered, last month and security deposits are pushing the average initial cost to move in well over… Well, like I said, been writing a lot of commissions to stem the tide, and still have enough left over to get through the summer should the worst case scenario happen and the BF is unable to find work. Him and I have been pushing to move in, and the original move-in date was September 2014. It’s been pushed and pushed and pushed, and we decided, “No more.” The monthly budget is figured out for my current income, it’s just that first step, you know?
Luckily, the delays have increased his stockpile, while mine has taken too many hits from the car, insurance, fees, and getting the con paid for.
So I’m going to update my progress as I go, and hell, if you want to kick a couple bucks I’m not going to say no.
Vaughn’s Move Out of the Slum Fund
Progress: $970/$1250 (Updated 1/1/2015)
Donations will lead to a .pdf copy of The Last Paladin
So, that was 2014 for me, here’s hoping I can keep the momentum going in 2015, and have a draft of Wayward Son finished by the end of November.
Happy New Year!
P.S./Update: A nice bit of end of year news, apparently I had one more paycheck coming for the end of the semester, for finals and commencement week, even though I wasn’t on campus (as my classes had final papers, not final exams), which, in addition to a couple finished commissions, gave a nice boost to the fund. 🙂