2023: in the rear view mirror

As Meatloaf once sang it, objects in the rear view mirror can appear closer than they are – and 2023 (soon to be in the said rear view mirror) is somehow both the shining example of that and the exception that proves the rule – there are things that landed in 2023 that seem like they’re a decade old, and other things that arise new every morning like they had just been born in that moment. But people are doing year-end posts so I thought I might do the same.

This was the year I entered the third year of widowhood, and the year in which I was finally accepted as “old enough” to be a widow, and to be eligible for finally qualifying for survivor benefits. They aren’t enough to make me live life high on the hog but at the very least it’s the end of two and half years of vicious financial uncertainty and the relief of a certain amount of stability (i know that I can actually get kibble every month for the cats without checking every last penny I have on hand or reaching for the credit card.

THis was the year (speaking of cats) that I gained the White Lady, the retired ex-grand champion Maine Coon, as fulfillment of a long-held dream and as a companion to my resident little ex-street-cat old man, the Little Emperor, giving me my current Princess and the Pauper living situation. Madame the Maine Coon has been the part of my life that is joy and light and laughter right now, because she is so regal and at the same time the world’s biggest goofball. I am grateful for the gift of her and for everything that she brought with her.

This was the year that I lost my mother, after three or more years of a devastating downward spiral beginning with a small stroke, devolving into a kidney disease, then into vascular dementia and finally into a broken hip that sent her into a coma from which she never woke again and less than two weeks after her 88th birthday she was gone. But in so many ways I had lost the mother I once knew a long time ago (the dementia took care of that) and her departure from this earth feels like it happened a lot longer ago than it actually did. In her wake, she left me existentially exhausted from fighting all her battles, guilty in that might have done more than I did and at the sense of relief that those last fraught years were finally over, and absolutely alone – I have no family left any more. THis is brought home by the simple fact that this New Year’s Eve, for the first time in my life, I will have nobody to call and wish a happy new year to at midnight. It’s a lonely thought.

work wise, I submitted a couple of short stories (and trust me this was an ACCOMPLISHMENT) and sold one (and LIKEWISE – the fact that I even put it in the hopper was huge and the fact that it was bought was even bigger). For someone who (on average) produced a new novel a year that is a sorry state of affairs, I know, but the last couple of years have emptied me of words. There was simply too much ELSE requiring my mind and my focus and my attention. I might have thought that now that mom’s gone I would have started to do things again but the well is really empty and it may be some time before it starts to fill again. That said, 2023 saw the release of the Author Editions of the Worldweavers series, all four of them, in a spiffy new collectible set, staggered over the length of 2023, one per quarter – and, also, the release of “Val Hall: Century”, an omnibus edition of the two earluer Val Hall story collections plus a couple of new stories brand new to this volume. So there have been words out in the wild, which is good. During this period I have also been working a new thing that is slated for release in 2024 – non-fiction – about which more anon but watch this space. I’ve also got my brain together enough to take on some editorial work, so at least words are bringing in some income. All told, given everything else that has happened this year, this part of the ledger doesn’t look as woeful as it might have done.

What am I seeing ahead? Well, there’s that new book that needs a final copy edit before it is finalised and sent off to be prepared for publication, so that’s something I’ll be working at in the near future. I am also trying to remember who I am at the core of me, which is a writer – and I am looking at returning to a stalled novel in the new year, to see if I can’t whip that up into shape in time for 2025. WIsh me luck. Progress will probably be reported at my Patreon,which I do invite you to join this year in support of keeping the cats in litter and kibble and toy mice and the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed as the true heads of this household.

Goodbye, 2023. You brought much grief and loss, and one or two things that qualify as joy (or even just a little contentment, or relief). But so help me… I will not miss this year. I’m happy that it’s over.


Closing the book now. From  the Little Emperor, the White Lady, and my own self… I hope your 2023 was something you can look back on with at least a little satisfaction, and happy new year.