As we get ready to turn the page on another year, I find myself evaluating 2013.  I have to, since it feels like one of the more profound years I’ve lived, and certainly one that concludes with the opportunity for future growth and hopeful enlightenment, as a man, as a father, as a writer, as a teammate and as a human being.  I could waste my time by grousing how this year kinda sucked, but then the aforementioned opportunity for growth is potentially missed when wallowing over misfortunes or undesirable moments.  Besides, when you survive adversity as so many people in the world do not, you have to check yourself, thank God and the universe and prepare to move forward instead of retreating into a cocoon of self-loathing.

As always, life gives and takes, particuarly in response to what you put into it.  I’m halfway sad to have come to certain realizations about people and events that affected me in 2013 and it’s certainly disheartening to see friends turn on you and you discover you’re not quite what you thought you meant to some folks.  On the other hand, for the friends I’ve lost this year, I’ve gained triple.  I have a new team at my day job who have made me feel like a valuable part of the process and it’s been awhile since I’ve actually felt my back has been looked out for.  I’ve laughed much and had fun getting to know my current crew and the leader has treated me with such respect it first made me feel paranoid, then cautiously optimistic.  I embrace what is now.

In my writing and music journalism pursuits, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many new artists, bands, publicists and readers.  It’s been a treasure to walk into a venue I’m on the guest list for and have people know what Blabbermouth is and the reception and hospitality I’ve been given thus is a reward few people get to experience in life.  I’ve been made to feel like a small celebrity and I’m honored to have had musicians buy me beers at concerts, sometimes out of their own pockets.  That is a gesture I never overlook or depreciate.  I’ve interviewed more than 300 musicians, film directors, actors, visual aritsts and writers in my time and while I’ve had to slow that avenue of my life down upon accepting the responsiblity of raising my adopted son, but I’m so proud of what I’ve accomplished in this field.  Sometimes the barrage of review requests and media press releases on a daily basis becomes so cumbersome I need to retreat for a day or so, but when anything you do in life becomes in-demand, how can you not be humble about it? 

I had a terrific year with Blabbermouth and increased my review load.  Sometimes it becomes a battle at home for computer time with a spouse working towards her degree and sometimes it’s deflating to get up early to write and you have your little one chasing after your heels, but somehow the work gets done, even at the sacrifice of sleep.  It’s a genuine gift to be a part of something bigger than you and better yet, to matter.  I don’t want to be pretentious here, but I just might’ve won over a decent portion of the notorious rogues’ gallery of commenters at Blabbermouth after being torched upon my arrival.  The wherewithal to succeed and to weather negativity with obtuse blinders on is how I’ve gotten to this point.  2014 looks to remain busy with the Blab and I’m so grateful to my editor, Borivoj, as I am to my employers at Resource Title who allow me to feed my family.

This year I was invited to contribute some editorials and I was able to place a few short stories for publication and I received some nice feedback.  I just had a horror story, “Before the Ball” accepted for an upcoming anthology, “Before the Ball” and I couldn’t be happier.  That story was an homage to eighties culture and B-horror of the day and I’m ecstatic that story resonated with the editors.  I took up the 50K word novel challenge for National Novel Writing Month and while I fell short with only 32K words, the excercise to try to and write it in a month was worth it just to see what I could pull from myself.  That novel project, “Lucky Burns” took me to a new level of my craft and I’m ready to finish it in 2014.  All I need is a literary agent and I’m ready to take over the world.

Comic books came back into my life this year in a big way.  I haven’t read them with seriousness in quite a while since I’ve been cultivating my fiction and journalism efforts, yet I got sucked into them after taking my son to Free Comic Day last year and again this year.  I tripped over the Batgirl reboot with Gail Simone writing and became addicted.  Such a humane treatment of an underrated character.  I then found myself trolling through old boxes of comics and graphic novels and found my fires lit.  I’ve been catching up with today’s scene and have seen so much wonderful writing and art out there it’s made me passionate about the medium once again.  I wrote a 64-page graphic novel script this year, “Drowning Man,” and am ready to turn it into a potential series once I get an interested party to dive into it.  Now as the year turns, I’m about to enter Top Cow Comics’ Talent Hunt for the upcoming year.  I did intensive study of their Witchblade, Artifacts and Darkness series and cannot wait to pen my entry script in January.  I would yell “Excelsior!” but that’s exclusive to a different imprint.

My son has grown so much this year, physically and intellectually.  I have to remind myself I have a six-year-old little man under my roof and I address him as I would most other people.  I respect his intelligence too much to downplay my speech, other than employing sensible censorship.  I think he as a full appreciation of his life and who his adopted parents are.  I never want him to know what it means to make sacrifices and how fatiguing and sometimes frightening being a parent can be.  I’m blessed that this child is mature beyond his age, even if kids are kids and boys are boys, and he’ll push us to the brink as any child would.  Still, I’m immensely proud of this fine young man who exhibits tremendous smarts, feelings and courage.  Right now, all he wants to do is play video games, but I’ve had so much fun this year taking him on so many hiking trails we’ve bonded more than ever as a result.  Sometimes I’m too exhausted to play action figures or games with him, but that comes with being a 43-year-old man who admittedly works way too much.  It’s a necessity given the household climate, but on those days I gimp out of nite-nite story from tumbling and running in the yard or doing my Indiana Jones bit on the playground, I smile through the aches.  I love this kid.  He might as well be my flesh and blood.

I’m not going to trap myself into some silly resolution for 2014 that’ll get swept to the side once the grind of life takes over as it always does.  In a complicated society such as we live in today, circumstances are always changing and they tend to influence, if not dictate your actions at times if you’re not the master over your own life.  Who is master over one’s life, those without gratuitous time and fortune to do so?  I hope the tone of this reflection indicates that I’ve chosen to overlook the bad parts of the year, and there were so many I often felt like chucking in the towel.  I like to hope that on those days I experience defeat, the feeling hangs over me for maybe a day and then I mentally adjust and come back fighting once again.  I persevere because I must.

2014.  You’re mine, sucker.

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