So. Here we are at the raw, tail end of 2018. Even California is bleakly cold . I’ve been laid up in bed with Toddler Flu and, while the Chubs is off at daycare, conquering the world, have been guiltily glutting myself on all the books I would, save for sickness and the godsend of being able to afford the second mortgage that is childcare, have no time to enjoy. I finished Victor Lavalle‘s excellent, World Fantasy Award-winning novel, The Changeling in two days and am moving on to John Kessel‘s Pride and Prometheus (a Jane Austen/Mary Shelley mashup expanded from his delightful Nebula award winning short story of the same name) which was published this year just in time for the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein. Lavalle’s novel was particularly poignant to a new parent like me. I don’t think you can accurately reflect the state of being a parent without a good dose of magical realism. He gets it. Every reader-parent with a young child should buy it.
I’ve fought hard for sanity and clarity this year as I struggled free from the vestigial tendrils of postpartum depression. That sounds melodramatic, but 1) I’m me, and 2) it was exactly like that. My marriage has blinked on and off like a lightbulb. I’ve despaired of myself, all other people, and the world. It was also a sad year creatively. I went to both World Con and World Fantasy thinking that, after five years with very little contact with the larger literary/fantasy community it would be rejuvenating and galvanizing. I quickly realized this was no longer a scene I thrived in–and that it had mostly forgotten me anyway.
I did publish a short story this January: An Aria for the Bloodlords in the consistently awesome Beneath Ceaseless Skies. There’s a bad typo in the first paragraph that I’ve been too busy to complain about but it was a fun story to write and actually eligible for awards for 2018.
Maybe part of my creative dissatisfaction this year (other than lack of time–see above, re: baby) has to do with the fact that fantasy doesn’t interest me the way it used to. I’ve read mostly Stephen King and Soviet gulag books this year and watched mostly horror movies (“Get Out,” “A Quiet Place,” “Black Mirror,” “The X-Files,” the much-better than it has-any-right-to-be “Ash vs. Evil Dead”). I was glad to get an idea of what’s been going on in fantasy at the cons (wouldn’t have known about the Changeling without them) but even then, the genre doesn’t excite me the way it used to. Not sure exactly why this is. Maybe because real-life too strongly resembles an alternate Abercrombian reality? Because I’ve always found horror more comforting when times are awful? Because I’ve lost my belief that art (particularly my own, particularly literary fantasy, of which so little is either known of or consumed by La Public) can solve any problems?
I’ll solve problems by raising a sweet, loving child and (probably) learning to can my own food. That’s all you can do: pick your ground and tend it. And hope it doesn’t end up like Pet Semetary.