2013, Big Year.

Twenty Thirteen was one of the most significant years of my life so far. I’d be remiss if I didn’t start this post by hitting the big two reasons for that: I got married to an amazing woman, and we’re having a baby.

Everything else fades into insignificance beside those two facts, but this year was jam-packed with other stuff.

I transitioned from one great job to another one, and moved halfway across the country to do so. Along the way I suffered from Imposter Syndrome more times than I could count. I successfully applied for a green card, and we still have the 4-inch thick binder of documents (and the insomnia and remnant anxiety) to prove it.

This year, I really got serious about writing. I made the decision to write more on this site, and published 270 posts including this one. I started off trying to write regularly, in order to build a good routine and get practice. Reading over my earlier posts from the year I can see a definite improvement in my writing. As the year drew to a close I transitioned to longer, more thoughtful pieces. Next year I hope to continue that trend. I also aim to write a book, although I haven’t quite figured out what it’s about yet.

I made a number of friends on Twitter and ADN, and a bunch of people said kind things about or shared my writing, which I felt very grateful for. I participated in my first podcast. I wrote a magazine article on pocket knives.

After a few false starts I finally quit Facebook for good. I started thinking more. I made a joke on Twitter that a lot of people didn’t get, and a speech at my wedding. I assembled a lot of furniture (mostly baby-oriented) and nailed a lot of things to walls and windowsills.

It’s hard to believe that this year is over already. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who read this site over the year. It’s been bewildering and gratifying to watch the increasing number of visitors.

I’ve put together a few 5-item lists from the past year:

Five things I wrote in 2013

An anecdote from my childhood about an almost-fight in the woods, and a comment on the Internet Outrage Machine. I found this cathartic to write, which was unexpected.

Do you really need that new thing? I reworked an old Buddhist parable to give it a modern twist.

I have no favorite band, but here’s some music that really meant something to me.

I wrote a really in-depth review of a backpack. If you like gear reviews like I do, you’ll probably enjoy this one.

I read a nonsense how-to list of manliness and it made me mad enough to write my own one. SPOILER: mine has one step.

Five things I learned in 2013

  • If you do something for long enough it’ll become a habit, and so putting effort into your writing when you’re not enjoying it will pay off big time.

  • The older you get, the harder it gets to not be able to see friends and family because they live far away.

  • Waiting for a new baby to be born takes forever. And the nesting instinct is totally real. Oh my gosh.

  • One person’s stuff plus one persons stuff does not equal two times one person’s stuff. It equals way more than that. So plan accordingly if you’re moving across the country.

  • How much free time you have is inversely proportional to how much cool personal projects you want to work on. Treasure your free time!

Five books I read in 2013

This was probably the best thing I read in the Science Fiction genre this year. Clarke at his best.

I’ve been meaning to read this book for a really long time, and a recent spate of people that I know reading it prompted me to finally start. What a great book. I really would recommend this to any writer — but especially those just starting to write.

I first heard about this series in a throwaway comment John Siracusa made on The Incomparable. This is a fantasy epic on a grand scale, and I steadily munched my way through the first five books over the course of a couple of months. I eventually had to stop around book 5 because the women in this series are so badly written and one-dimensional. Seriously, I couldn’t read any more accounts of someone “nervously smoothing her skirt over her hips”. That said, this is a seminal body of work, so worth trying out if you’re at all interested in the genre.

I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of writing in these books. Dune is the best-selling science fiction novel in history. The first three books were all I could handle, as it’s really all downhill (into a pungent morass of psychosomatic political/spiritual vagary) after book 1. I needed something lighter after a while. Dune is a book that everyone should try.

This series is parallel to the Ender’s Game series of books, and I found the main character, Bean, a much more interesting and nuanced protagonist than Ender. You’d probably want to read the Ender books first, but as a standalone series this has a lot of merit.

I hope your 2014 is as good as my 2013 was. Happy new Year!