So, less than seven hours, 2011 will be over. It was... well, it was a strange one. It was the best year of my life in some ways, the worst in others. As I'm writing this, I'm trying to place how I feel about this year as my fiancee's cats run around the apartment, smashing into blinds, chewing on shoes, bouncing off the bed... and no, they're not even on catnip. They're just wonderfully strange.
I'm leaving this year with a lot more than I had last year. I have twelve publications to my name now, when last year I had... well, none. I have what appears to be a beard growing on my face, which makes me feel more like a writer than any of those publications. I have a fiancee. I have a bit more confidence that I'm going to be able to "make it" as a writer (lame as the phrase "make it" is), and a good deal more frustration that I haven't already.
At this time last year, I was working at Borders and preparing to teach a class at Five Towns College. I stayed at Borders until the bittersweet end in September, when the store closed its doors for good. I'll never really be able to articulate how much I miss Borders... not only my friends there, but the store as a whole. It has been my favorite store since I was eight or nine, and it's left a hole in the book industry that won't easily be filled. But yeah... I do miss all my wonderful co-workers.
And that sexy, sexy discount.
While I was day-jobbing it at Borders, I also worked as an adjunct professor at Five Towns. That's still going on. I teach Screenwriting and Script Writing classes in the spring semester and two Script Writing units in the Fall. Though the list of prose novels that I read this year is literally 1/5th of what I'd conquered last year, I think I read more this year than ever before... because the thing about being a writing professor is that you've got a hell of a lot of screenplays to read through multiple drafts. It was enlightening, rewarding, frustrating, and beautiful to see students grow as writers in my class, and it showed me that maybe I do have a future in teaching. I always thought of my career as "write or nothing." But now, I think I may have to amend that to "writing and..." I'm proud of the classes that I taught, and I'm excited to see what I can improve for next semester.
A student of mine drew this fine example of a storyboard
featuring yours truly
When Borders closed, though, I knew I needed another day job. I applied at all sorts of places until I was finally hired at Barnes and Noble. The pay was the lowest I've ever taken, and it was seasonal, but it was something. It turned out being the worst job I've ever had, but that came to an end today. They called me into the office on Wednesday and informed me that, as of January 1st, none of the seasonal employees (myself and two other really cool people) would be brought back. "You," they told me, "will be the first we call if we need someone to cover a shift!" Then, they expected me to work as scheduled New Years Eve, even though they failed to give me more than three days notice that I'd no longer be employed there. It's this marginalization of employees, seasonal or otherwise, that makes me look back and appreciate my other jobs, no matter how little they paid or how long they lasted. Even McDonalds is shiny in comparison.
But as of today, that's the past. It's behind me, and I already have a job interview lined up. I hope that the days I'll need to have day jobs are numbered, but until I can support myself with no assistance on writing and teaching, I'm going to keep workin' em.
A side note, just because I think everyone needs to know. Westley, a very large cat, is currently swatting at the chair, poking my butt in order to get attention. He's very important, after all.
Angel: Yearbook. Cover by David Messina.
In May, my dream came true. I wrote for Joss Whedon's Angel. My story, "My Only Friend," (illustrated by Stephen Mooney) was included in IDW's final installment of their five year long run on the title, Angel: Yearbook. I owe thanks to Chris Ryall, Scott Tipton, Stephen Mooney (of course), Dan Roth, and Mariah Huehner for making that dream come to beautiful fruition.
It was also great to see the story reprinted in the massive Angel: The End hardcover (pictured above), with a beautiful cover by Jenny Frison.
Grimm Fairy Tales Holiday Edition 2011. Cover by Stjepan Sejic.
Determined to use my story as a stepping stone to a career in comics, I contacted Zenescope Entertainment and have since worked with editor Ralph Tedesco on a number of projects. My first release with Zenescope hit shelves a week and a half ago. I wrote the 2011 Holiday Edition of their flagship title, Grimm Fairy Tales from a plot by Ralph Tedesco, based on Dickens' A Christmas Carol. I'm incredibly proud of how it came out.
Double page spread from GFT: Holiday 2011. Art by Anthony Spay.
I got to work with a handful of wonderful artists, who brought out the sweetness and the horror in this story in big ways.
I also wrote five stories for their 1000 Ways to Die graphic novel, which should come out a few weeks into 2012.
I spent a lot of 2011 pitching, making connections, and assembling teams for creator owned projects. I'm working on more than ten pitches for graphic novels and comic books right now, and I hope to see a few of them released next year. I'm confident in the work I've been creating, more so than ever - and I'm thrilled to be working with such brilliant, brilliant artists.
Page from Blood Pong #1. Art by Ian McGinty.
Promo art for PLAYGROUND, an original graphic novel
with art by Matt Roscetti.
2011 was the year of the short story for me. Between May and August, I wrote about two stories every week. I am currently recycling a bunch of these ideas into comic book projects, so more people will be able to see them, but I loved working with small presses such as Pill Hill Press, Rainstorm Press, and May December Publications on these strange pieces of prose. I really let loose and played with bigger ideas that I've always wanted to tackle in some way, and I think a lot of them came out really nicely. There are a few glaring typos, some from editors and some from me, in the earliest of the volumes, but that simply makes me want to be more attentive to the mechanics of proofreading.
I already have another short story set for publication next year, but I'll talk about that a bit closer to the release date.
A good chunk of my year was spent with the lovely folks of the Amios Company. I wrote six short plays for Shotz, their monthly festival of short plays, and a thirty minute play called Rosary which was performed five times in December for their LongShotz event.
From Rosary (Jennifer Le Blance, Alanna Wilson). Photography by Gregg Le Blanc.
There is really nothing like seeing your work performed live by people more talented than you can begin to imagine. I love all of these actors and directors, and look forward to another very Shotzy year.
Game Face, a play I co-created with Tanya Everett and Clinton Lowe, received a staged reading on my birthday. It had a few bumps, but it showed me that all of those bumps are worth working with people as creative and talented and badass as Tanya and Clinton. To the future.
I wrote - get this - literary critique. I know, right? Weird. Five of my academic articles are going to be published in Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion: the TV Series, the Movies, the Comic Books, and More: The Essential Guide to the Whedonverse. I've never been in a book with so many colons, but I'm excited to branch out into (completely) uncharted territory in my writing. I hope to do more of this kind of work in 2012, because... well, it was a lot more fun writing scholarly articles than I could have imagined. Maybe I'm itchin' to be an English student again, who knows?
Also, I wrote the index for Brian Cogan's upcoming book, Deconstructing South Park. More info on that when it comes out. It has the sweetest index you've ever not read, I promise.
Sadly, my film company Stinky Burger Productions called it quits this year. Steve Wisnowski (President) and I are still planning on releasing our feature film, Besiegement! next year (now that we're able to edit it again), but SBP will no longer produce short films. Perhaps, in the future, there will be something else down the line. But for now... it was a good ride.
I wrote a short film called The Sucker for director Katie Carman (Eat Me, Off Season). I like describing it as "American Beauty with the chupacabra." Hopefully, in a few months, you'll see what I'm talking about.
Had some good times with friends. Took my girlfriend to Mohonk, the most beautiful place in the world. Got engaged. Fell deeper in love. Spent a lot of time with my favorite person. Witnessed a miracle. Read some really, really good comics (here's looking at you, The Saga of the Swamp Thing, Nick Spencer, and Scott Snyder). Discovered a really, really good author (hi, Patrick Rothfuss). Opening up my own checking account. Opened up a joint savings account. Again, grew a beard.
Erica took this picture of me
before answering the question.
Thanks to everyone who enjoyed this year with me. Thanks to Erica. Thanks to my mom, dad, and the rest of my family. Thanks to Chris, Antwon, Charlotte, Rachel, Brian, Steve, Jenna, Kristina, and everyone else I saw on Christmas eve. Thanks to Tanya and Clinton. Thanks to Kibibi, a wonderfully talented woman who was unfortunately taken from us just a few days ago. Thanks to Scott, Brian, Mooney, Ryall, Jay, Ralph Tedesco, Suzanne Robb, Brian Cogan, Pill Hill Press, Rainstorm Press, May December Publications, the BiblioBabes, and everyone else who helped elevate my career. Thanks to Ian McGinty, Matt Roscetti, Jon Roscetti, Mike Hamlett, and everyone else I'm developing creator owned properties with. Thanks to Massey. Thanks to all of my students who put in the effort to learn, as well as those that pushed me to be better. Thanks to Rob Hille, Alanna Wilson, Jennifer Le Blanc, Zach Evenson, Kristy Powers, Mike Fulvio, Christian Haines, and everyone else who brought Shotz and LongShotz to life. Thanks to the cutest cats in the world, Cleese, Deanna, Westley, and Dagny. Thanks to Shannon, Ian, Sean, and... yeah, getting lazy, thanks to everyone who worked at Borders. Thanks to Scott Snyder, Nick Spencer, and Alan Moore - the work of these three writers pushed me to push myself this year. Thanks to everyone who made me think, made me love, and made me work. If I forgot your name, it's because I'm tired and anxious to spend New Years Eve the best way possible... doing absolutely nothing.
I want to write more than I wrote this year. I want to publish more than I published this year. I want to spend time with more people that I love, I want to keep falling more and more in love with Erica, I want to exercise, I want to lose weight, and I want to try new things. I want to get a book deal. I want to create. And, as lame as resolutions can be, I'm going to start working on these tomorrow morning.
Happy New Year.