As always, it’s been an interesting year. Despite rewriting Hild, a 200,000 words novel, more than once, I managed to do a few new things, go new places, and read new books (most of which, sadly, I didn’t have the time to get around to talking about). Fabulously (and, one one occasion, not-so fabulously), I’ve also been surprised with gifts, and–best of all–found a home for the massive Hild.

I’ll split this 2012 roundup into two posts. Gifts and Hildishness in Part II.

New things I did in 2012:

I taught my first one-day workshop, for Clarion West. I’ve taught short workshops before, but this was was different. Called Exciting Writing: making the reader believe, I designed it to force-feed information to 12 writers so that they could then go away and unpack/digest the lesson at their leisure–and also, hopefully, with their fellow writers to turn to (I designed the workshop in such a way that participants had to learn things about each other). I think it might have worked. I know that one participant has already attended the full Clarion West summer workshop, and I believe at least two others are applying in the future. To me this is what learning should be: tailored, focused, and delivered to willing, able, and eager students. I imagine we’ll find out in a few years if it worked long term. (And if the guinea pigs have forgiven me…)

Also for Clarion West I designed and ran the organization’s social media strategy for the two weeks running up to their annual Write-a-thon, and for a couple of weeks once it had begun. I love creating and building things; I hate running them for very long. So for me it was the perfect way of giving to an organization–and I’m delighted to say that CW broke all their goals and records for participation and fundraising. So, hey, a win all round. Especially for the people this whole thing was aimed at: the writers. If you’re a writer, at any stage, do consider the CW Write-a-thon for 2013. Trust me, it’s a great thing.

Probably the most lasting fun new thing of 2012 for me was getting my first ukulele. I had no idea I even wanted one, until a friend from Vancouver literally showed up on the doorstep, said, “Here, I made this for you,” and gave me the most beautiful hand-built and hand-painted four-stringed instrument nothing like the cheap and nasty tinkling things I’d always imagined. I fell instantly in love. So, then, of course, I got another (with a low-D, which sounds pretty different).

If you want to hear what I sound like using Jeepster, the original, here are two songs recorded (with my phone) this month:

Another new skill hobby I picked up this year was making pictures with paints and pastels. Art (I use the word loosely) is not something I’ve dabbled with for decades. This time around, I appear to be obsessed with Bebbanburg, one of Hild’s haunts.

If you want to see Art with a capital A, read about Chicago artist Riva Lehrer’s creation (I just posed, and threw out ideas) of this most amazing mixed-media portrait of me:

New places:

I’ve been to Vancouver before, but not for more than ten years. So it felt like a new place. We had a lovely time there.

And I got to go to the UK not once but twice in 2012. The second time was a whirlwind trip to celebrate my sister’s 60th birthday. It was fabulous all around, but perhaps the best part was seeing so much of my father–and seeing how much I’m beginning to look like him.

New (to me) books:

I read A Wrinkle in Time for the first time and, sadly, was not impressed.

However, I read an anthology, Beyond Binary, that did what the best anthologies do: became so much more than the sum of its parts. I was moved to do a three-part interview with the book’s editor, Brit Mandelo.

And then, after a discussion with a friend who was looking for books for his teenage son, I went on a hunt for sfnal books for boys.

[To be continued…]