It’s easy to say that 2016 has been a trying year.
If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of this year’s US presidential election (which was highly sensationalized by national and international media outlets), you likely share this opinion.
The world also lost so many creative sparks this year – author Harper Lee, actresses Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds, astronaut John Glenn, scientist Vera Rubin, David Bowie, actor Alan Rickman, Eagles guitarist Glen Frey, “fifth Beatle” George Martin, boxer Mohammad Ali, young singer Christina Grimmie, and countless others.
Countless terror attacks shook the world in this year alone, and took the lives of too many innocent, regular people just like you and me. To make matters worse, everyone wants to point fingers at someone else, and the game of “pin the blame on the scapegoat” is becoming incredibly popular.
In fact, it’s easy to say 2016 has been a downright awful year.
Personally, I don’t think 2016 was such an awful year. Yes, all throughout the year, I have been directly and indirectly antagonized by people who can’t see past the box my voting-age family members filled in on a stupid piece of paper in the name of progress. I read about death and destruction in the newspapers. We lost so many contributors to art, science, culture, and progress. On a global scale, some really bad stuff happened this year. But the year wasn’t all bad.
Sometimes, it’s the little things that make the biggest difference; I’ll try to share a few of the good things which I experienced in 2016.
1. Comic Con
I attended not one, but two smaller, family-friendly Comic Con conventions this year.
In case you hadn’t already figured it out, I’m an eccentric person who stands no matter what crowd I’m in. At this point, I contentedly embrace this factor of my personality, but when I stepped into that building full of costumed geeks, I’d never felt more at accepted and welcomed. I was fully immersed in geeky goodness for an entire day, and I was able to connect with others over our shared admiration of art and fandoms.
One of my favorite experiences from my first convention was taking photos with other cosplayers. It felt like I got to meet my favorite comic book / cartoon characters for real. As a cosplayer myself, I liked being able to make other guests happy when they saw me in costume. At the last convention I attended, I think I made another first-timer’s day as people had done for me.
2. Writer’s Block = Defeated
This year, I got back into blogging and writing.
In the beginning of the year, Kira from the Chapter One Young Writers Conference contacted me and asked if I’d like to take part in their 2016 blog tour. I accepted readily, as this sounded like a great way to resume blogging. Of course, I had to make my blog “look alive” before the blog tour. One thing led to another, and next thing I knew, I was back to sharing samples of my sporadic writing attempts (mostly poetry this time around) and the occasional kvetchy musings every other week.
This year, I was inspired to plan two new, novel-length WIPs this year. One of them, After the Fall, is progressing pretty nicely. The other, Elementals, is still in the outline phase and needs some reworking, but I have plans to continue it next year.
I also managed to dig out a few of my older, shelved WIPs which never made it past the first few chapters. My writing process at that time leaned more towards “pantsing,” I’ve long forgotten most of my undocumented plans for those stories – reading them now, with a fresh perspective, enabled me to come up with some new ideas for how to continue them.
This fall, I signed up for a course on literary analysis. The English department at my current school is just so much fun, and the teacher has been nothing but supportive of my writing endeavors. I didn’t think I’d be writing much fiction for this class, so much as papers analyzing existing works of fiction from the literary greats, but boy was I surprised! All this awesomeness happened towards the end of the 2016 year, but I think it’s particularly great preparation for a very productive year of writing in 2017.
This year, I got into voice acting. I’m by no means a professional, but I have a great mic, a homemade pop filter, a homemade sound booth box, and a range of funny voices I can do. So far, I’ve landed only one paid voice acting role, but I’m still gaining a lot of experience. And most importantly, I’m having fun.
In general, voice acting appeals to me because I get to act using my voice alone. My physical appearance doesn’t remotely factor in; nor can it be exploited or unfairly critiqued. I can call myself an actor without also calling myself a victim of Hollywood’s sketchy morals.
The term “multipotentialite,” coined by Emilie Wapnick, refers to people who do a little of everything, and don’t have just one true calling. A dear friend of mine, M., shared Ms. Wapnick’s thought-provoking TED Talk about being a multipotentialite, and it blew my mind.
I’m someone who doesn’t like to confine herself to labels, but this particular label is such an oxymoron, I’ve come to own it. I love writing, but as you can probably tell, it’s not the thing I want to spend the rest of my life doing. I’ve discovered so many other forms of art and creativity that I want to try them all, and even then, why limit myself to just the arts? If it appeals to me, I want to try it, and if I find I like it, I want to master it and add it to my bag of tricks. I’m not a noncommittal “dabbler,” oh no. I’m a multipotentialite.
5. Books, books, books
This year, I read a ton of awesome books and series. Some of my favorites (in no particular order) include:
- The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall
- This was by far the most emotional read for me, as I grew up reading the first Penderwicks books in my tweens. I think Ms. Birdsall knew that her earliest fans had grown up since the first books came out, and set this book with us in mind.
- The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
- The Prisoner of Azkaban and The Order of the Phoenix are my favorites. Rowling is just so clever. All the names of characters and locations mean something, and the interwoven subplots never get old (except, maybe, the romance ones).
- The Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke
- I have mixed feelings about this series. The first book was lovely – I’d give it to a precocious 10 year old any day. The rest of the books, while enjoyable at my reading level, were incredibly dark and mature. I’m glad I only read it now, because at this age, I can appreciate the good parts despite my (now dulled) sensitivities.
- The Haunting of Gabriel Ashe by Dan Poblocki
- Ruby Redfort: Feel the Fear by Lauren Child
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
- The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
- (Full disclosure, I finished the first 3 books this year, and have been meaning to read the final one.) I don’t care if people say it’s a knockoff of every good sci-fi and fantasy work out there. Paolini was inspired by many of the things which inspire us all, and the end result is amazing and highly original. I love this series to bits.
- Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell
- “The Raven” and other Works of Edgar Allan Poe
- I always found Poe to be a bit of a weirdo, but when it comes to his short stories like “The Telltale Heart” and “The Black Cat,” that element of weirdness is quite fascinating to me. I grew up reading a lot of mystery stories, where the culprit’s identity was only revealed at the end, and dramatically so. These stories in particular struck me as interesting because they offered an unusual perspective into the minds of the culprits.
- Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
- Combining art and emotive storytelling, Selznick created a spectacular picture book for “big kids” (and all children at heart). You can read my review of it here.
- Loot by Jude Watson
I’ve come to the awkward realization that most of the books I read and enjoyed this year are by women. I want my reading list next year to be a bit more … egalitarian?
Well, there are six good things (or categories of things) which happened to me in 2016. I’d talk about good things in the world at large, but I’m much better at simply speaking for myself. I can be an ally, a supporter, to many causes, but I don’t claim to represent anyone other than myself. (For 99 good things which happened in the world this year, I highly recommend this article. Sure, you don’t have to agree with all the points listed, but I’m sure you’ll find something to smile about in there. May I suggest the cute baby pandas?)
P.S. Whenever I have to do something, suddenly all my ideas vanish and I sit for a good half hour in front of the keyboard saying, Uhhhhh…. For this post, I challenged myself to list a few nice things that happened to me in 2016, and I had to stop and think about it for a bit before I remembered.
One of my favorite young musicians, Grace Van Der Waal, shared this picture on her Twitter page, and I plan on following its advice so that next year, I don’t have to stop and think hard to come up with good things:
Please feel free to comment about some of your positive memories from 2016. 🙂