Monday, December 31, 2018

Goodbye 2018, Hello 2019

So what happened in 2018? In short: a lot. My goals for the year were as follows:
  1. Put out two new albums of electronic/ambient instrumental music. Sanur was released in January, Harys released in July.
  2. I released the book about my band The Stepford Five titled Are You Making A Sound? in March. It was a fun project and invigorating, more on that.
  3. While I didn't publish a follow-up to Small Stories, I started the processing of fleshing out more stories. That probably won't be out next year, maybe 2020 or 2021. I interviewed my great uncle Mike about his experiences in World War II, transcribed his journal and have started the research process. Maybe 2019, maybe 2020, not sure on that yet. I did not move forward at all on my mother's journals, but I have them for a future year. Things got busy, more on that later.
  4. The Black Sky moved forward in a big way, but then took a step back. Here's the gist, as I don't want to go into too much detail: in January, one of my query letters landed me representation with an agent at a large NYC literary agency. This was a dream come true, I was on the proverbial cloud nine for days. We talked on the phone, went over the particulars, the time frames, the (realistic) expectations and such. Immediately the manuscript started going out to publishers and then... well, kinda nothing for months. That's how it goes, waiting to find the right home. I outlined the sequel, and waiting to hear something. Every couple of months, I'd check in and get a short but courteous "we're in the process, it takes time, be patient" response. By the end of the year, after I had a call with my agent and later learned about some issues at his agency, we ended up parting. To be fair, he sent out the manuscript to the folks I would ecstatic to get to read it, and provided me the feedback he received, but it was clear he wasn't going to be reach out to smaller publishers, so at this point I've taken The Black Sky back under my wing and am looking for another option in 2019. I'm also considering a revised title.
  5. Dig Me Out continues to grow, and 2018 was another stellar year with fun interviews, excellent roundtables and great episodes with our listeners. We have even more planned for 2019.
  6. Let's start at the end on this one. By the end of the year, I came to the conclusion that my job had become a detriment to my health, my family and my creative pursuits, and I tendered my resignation. It was met with shock and, to the credit of the people I work for, an offer to amend my workload and hours to something more accomodating. Like a lot of people, I was unable to detach myself from my work for even any time off, and with the growth of our newly created division, could see how damaging this would become if the trend continued in 2019. In January, I'll be moving into a part-time role with more limited scope, and be able to reclaim some of the hours that had been whittled away over the past year.



What else happened in 2018?
  1. After working on The Stepford Five book, my interest in the Columbus music scene as a whole was piqued. At first, I was casually researching, but that quickly turned into an idea - an oral history in the vein of Everybody Loves Our Town or American Hardcore about the forty or so years of music from Columbus, Ohio. I knew this was going to be bigger and more involved than anything I have ever tackled, but with nearly eight years of Dig Me Out under my belt co-conducting interviews, the previous books I put out, my experiences playing in a band in Columbus, and knowing some of the folks to get started, I decided to dive and tackle this project and gave it a name, Down To High Street (from a song by Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, a key band in the history of Columbus music). A couple of things emerged from this. First, I started doing interviews, knocking out over a dozen in the first few months. Second, I secured a small grant from the Greater Columbus Arts Council to track down obscure and hard to find music relevant to the book. Third, I launched a blog and have highlight a different band relevant to the book each week, which is resource for both myself and anyone else interested in the project. It's going to take awhile, and I'm probably not going be wrapping up interviews until at least the end of the 2019, more likely sometime in 2020.
  2. After joining my old bandmate Keith Jenkins in his Pearl Jam cover band RVM, he asked me to contribute keyboards and guitar in latest band Rival Cities. We played a gig, and like with RVM, it was fun to both work on songs and contribute, as well as get out and play, unfortunately due to some line-up changes and departures, the band as a live entity is not currently active. However, we did manage to get into a recording studio at the end of the year and start putting some sounds to tape (well, not actual tape), so hopefully that will see the light of day in 2019 in some capacity.
  3. My daughter moved from ballet to tap, and continues to enjoy her dance classes. In addition, at the old age of six she has added piano classes (and we added an actual piano to our home). She is starting to read on her own, and watching this human being develop in a full-fleshed out person is a truly fascinating experience. She's also stubborn and starting to gain an understanding of sarcasm, which is karmic revenge, I guess.
  4. I'm continuing to cook and bake with increased skill. I've actually become fairly consistent at making gluten free pate a choux (the dough for cream puffs and eclairs), which mimics regular pate a choux dough almost exactly. Having family and friends who are gluten free has provided me the opportunity to work on these skills, however it has not helped me cut down on eating the baked goods, and my "extra fifteen or twenty pounds" is yet again on my list to lose during the coming year.
  5. I didn't mention it last year, but my home gardening efforts have really yielded some amazing results. This year we planted six kinds of tomatoes (three small, three large) and had great results. Lesson learned - reducing the number of options down to one large and one small for 2019. Broccoli was something of a bust, we got one decent harvest - judging the ripeness was difficult and the flavor was somewhat bitter. Our green peppers were a hit, as were zucchini and cucumbers. Fruits didn't do well this year, blackberries were almost non-existent, blueberries got eaten (again) but squirrels and bunnies, and the raspberries underperformed. Carrots did okay, but had some spacing issues so they ended up bunched together and small.
  6. My wife is the best. We did not go on enough dates, and that needs to be change in 2019. I already know I'll be better on vacation, which was a point of contention with me being unable to fully relax due to work.
So, what's up for 2019?
  1. Find a home for The Black Sky (or whatever it ends up titled).
  2. Continue to work on Down To High Street.
  3. I will continue to slowly work on follow-ups to Small Stories and Power Ballad, as well as my great uncle Mike's accounts of WWII and my mother's journals. I can't guarantee they'll get published in 2019, but I want to keep the ball moving forward.
  4. I have a new collection of electronic/ambient music planned for February, and possibly another later in the year.
  5. I have my very first author event happening at the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo, New York on Thursday, January 3rd
  6. More dates, more cooking, more gardening, more family time, continued work on personal well being and mental health.
What about you?