2014 Year In Review

2014 is a difficult year for me to describe. It had high highs and low lows, and for whatever reason, they were more pronounced this year than before. I can think of a few culprits. It was my first year of Official Adulting, or at least not spending most of my days in school. I went through two moves – from California back to Manila for a few months, and then from Manila to London (which was also my first time ever being in Europe). I went up a ski lift. I (barely) solved two Mystery Manila rooms. I endured three harrowing visa applications. I also tried, as best as I knew how, to be a ‘working writer.’ A lot of the times it felt like patting my back with one hand and slapping my face with the other. But there's a lot to be grateful for.

I made my first pro fiction sale to John Joseph Adams at Nightmare Magazine in 2013, and that story came out in March 2014. Have You Heard the One About Anamaria Marquez? is a ghost story about urban legends in a Catholic all-girls’ school. This may also be the most unashamedly drawn-from-life story I’ve ever written – very few elements were made up. I hope that if this piece doesn’t make you shudder, it at least makes you laugh. If you want to learn more about how it was written, you can read my interview at Nightmare Magazine.

My second pro sale was to Carl Engle-Laird at Tor.com, for A Cup of Salt Tears. This piece is a dark fairytale set in modern-day Japan. It starts with a kappa and a woman meeting in an onsen. I cried when this story got accepted. I cried from shock and happiness. I was having a really bad day when the cover art came out, and then – I wasn’t having a bad day anymore. Since its publication, I have been repeatedlytouched and astounded by the response this story has received.

A third story of mine came out, print only, in the inaugural issue of Maximum Volume from Anvil Publishing. Cruising is my first published short story that has no speculative fiction elements. It’s a portrait of a large Filipino family on a cruise ship for the holidays. It’s a quiet piece that reflects on identity, loss, and loyalty.

Unexpectedly – I also published an essay on Interfictions Online. Life Is Not a Shoujo Manga was written quickly, and even as I was preparing it for submission I kept thinking there’s no way this’ll be accepted, no way. Hah! Hah. This piece? Nah. And then Sofia Samatar said she wanted to publish it, which made my head asplode. This piece is partly an ode to shoujo manga, but it’s also about growing up and Loki. Plus I like the list format. This piece required a lot of bravery, so anyone who read it gets an extra hug from me.

My poem The Monkey Climbs the Tree, As The Turtle Watches came out on Stone Telling. This was my first speculative poetry sale, and I’m thrilled to have it be in an issue with such great company. (You can also hear my blerpy voice reading it at the link! Er, but not on mobile devices.) In 2015 I will have two poems appearing in Uncanny Magazine, and another in Apex Magazine.

I attended two 2014 conventions: Fog Con and the Nebula Awards Weekend, both of which were good learning experiences, and quite fun. I met many excellent people and reunited with some of my beloved Rocketship Spatulas. If I met you then and seemed kinda dazed and derpy, it’s because I had no clue what exactly I was doing. (Not that I think that will necessarily change in future cons, but hey.) (Also – despite having learned conversation upon moving to the US, I am shy.) To those who welcomed me, said kind things, and/or shook my hand – it meant a lot to me, and I appreciate the warmth and encouragement.

I also got 35 rejections this year (for both poetry and fiction). Which is an accomplishment because it means I was sending stuff out – in fact, I had at least one submission for every month of the year. Submitting original fiction to magazines had never crossed my mind prior to Clarion 2013, so this was a sizable step in the right direction.

Finally: I am eligible for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer (a thought that makes me go (´⊙o⊙`;)). I appreciate the consideration, and if there’s anything on my list of publications that you’d like to read (and it’s currently not available online or you'd like it in a different format), please feel free to contact me (yap.isabel [at] gmail.com). You can view the (constantly updated) list of eligible writers here.

I'm proud of what I've been able to do. At the same time, I’m down on myself that I didn’t do more – in writing, work, etc. In particular, I didn’t meet any writing goals I set. There are some good reasons for that, but it was also a lesson in being realistic about what I can/can’t accomplish. Still, that just means I’ll have a lot to look forward to this year: ideas I didn’t get to flesh out, worlds to build, stories started but not finished, characters to poke at, feelz to explore. I’m excited about the stories I’m planning, others on submission, and one that will (happily) be appearing next year. If you’ve enjoyed any of my stories this year, please know: that means a lot to me. I hope I get to share more with you in years to come!

The end of the year brings with it some clarity. The thought I’ll hold onto for today, for the start of the new year, for the rest of 2015 and hopefully for forever is: be kind. It goes such a long way. Kind to myself, kind to others. We can all use a bit more of that.

Also:

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Happy New 2015, all! Let’s make it shiny. ╰(・◡・╰)