Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

2013 Round-Up: Interesting Times

Fresh when it gets here from Julie Barrett
Tuesday, December 31, 2013

If I could sum up this past year in one word, it would be "interesting," and not necessarily in the (supposed) curse meaning that word has come to take on in this context. It was good, it was bad, but mostly challenging and exhausting.

The best: My family and friends. You were there for me during the high and low times, and helped talk me down from more than one professional or fannish ledge. Take the ledge as a metaphor, please. There were times when I wanted to chuck it all and just be a hausfrau. My family and friends knew better and offered much encouragement when I was overworked and overwhelmed.

The good: Steam Cat did very well. I was able to invest in a new and better embroidery machine and look forward to an even better year. I took on some interesting leadership positions that allowed me to grow. And hey, I survived another year. How can I argue with that?

Also good: Chris graduated from college. He's been freelancing, and is searching for a permanent position somewhere.

And cool: Paul finally saw a long-term goal come to fruition as he finally was able to build a robotic K-9. And here I am without pictures. I shall remedy that at some point. This tin dog is very cool.

The not so good: My mom went through some serious health issues earlier this year, but she seems to have bounced back. The latter bit is good, obviously. Abby had to take her last trip to the vet in June. She was 14, and is missed. That very same weekend I got stranded just north of Houston with a car full of passengers and luggage and a roadside assistance program that failed on darn near every level. Interesting times, indeed.

The challenging: One of my big leadership experiences was running the Hugo Awards Ceremony at LoneStarCon 3 this year. I am indebted to the con leadership who not only backed me up, but gave me enough room to make decisions and succeed or fail on my own merits. Overall, it was a success. One of the perils of leadership is that not every decision is going to go over well with everyone. I was prepared for that (and again, grateful that the leadership had my back), but totally unprepared for some of the backlash. I'm not going to go into details, except to say that many of those unpopular decisions were made behind the scenes, so the average fan wouldn't know or care - unless something went wrong. There is one obvious choice that some have second-guessed, and I'll be public about that. Choosing the MC was my decision and one I'd not hesitate to do exactly the same if I had to turn back the clock. I'm a big girl and will move along. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity and for the confidence of the convention leadership.

The other challenge has been dealing with my eyes. I tore a retina back in January, and while I haven't needed surgery, the recovery took some time. I still have a chunk of retina swimming around in my eye. It's breaking up (as the doc said it would), but it's still a nuisance. I'm also waiting for the cataract in my right eye to get to the point where I can have surgery. I've had a corrective implant and a procedure for astigmatism on the left eye (that was before the retina tear), but the left eye is still -8, which is very nearsighted. All the docs ask how I can stand it (my surgeon says the brain can deal with up to a 3 diopeter difference in the eyes, and I'm at 8), and well, it ain't easy. I get eyestrain and I make a LOT of typos. But hey, it could be a lot worse. When I tore the retina, I was scared to death I was going blind in that eye. So yeah, it could I have one blind eye and one crappy eye. Oh, and if I'm getting the cataract surgery on the other eye next year, I am so getting a pirate eye patch. So there.

I attended a lot of conventions this year, and look forward to attending more next year. 

One thing I didn't mention was the writing. I have a pending sale. It's not a big market, but hey, it's a sale. I've been spending a good deal of what little free time I've had attempting to plot a novel. It hasn't been going well. I'm fairly convinced I'm better at short stories and non-fiction. Yet, I'm going to keep at it as I see this as important to my growth as a writer. I may never finish the thing or find a market for it if I do, but one step at a time, eh? 

I did have some royalty income, so the writing year wasn't a financial loss.

My goal for next year is to change how I measure success. It won't be by publication or sales, but by creative output. Last year was very tough because LSC3 and some other things took up a lot of time. I need to get back in the saddle and focus on the process of creation - both in writing and in art.

But for now, I'm taking a rest and working on some other things in my life. I'll get busy again next week. But you should see my desk. It's almost clean! And I've cleared out several boxes of old crap that I was keeping for no reason whatsoever. Well, I had a reason to keep it at another time in my life, and that time has passed. I'm holding on to some of it, but I've gone from four file boxes to a couple of manuscript boxes of stuff, and the trash and recycle bins runneth over. I still have a lot to do on that front, but I'm happy to have made some progress.

I'm hoping 2014 will be a little more mundane, but fruitful. And here's hoping you have a great year!

Filed under: Life            


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