2023 in review

The last day of the year, and what a year, right? Globally, so much bad stuff is happening that it might seem impossible to look for a brighter side, much less to find one. Locally, there’s still continuing food price inflation, higher energy bills, Covid quarantines uncomfortably close to home, (measured in literal meters, so I’m not exaggerating) and mysterious illnesses for me and my hubby. (Mine going back decades, which was previously diagnosed as MS, but now the doctors aren’t so sure. Oh, fun side note, one of my symptoms is losing my sense of smell for brief spans, so now every time it happens, I have to ask, “Is it the usual shenanigans, or is it Covid?”)

But personally, this is the year when I got back my drive to create, and the urge to explore. For a few years now, I haven’t really felt much desire to listen to new music, or to read much from comics or books. I think I was just overwhelmed by all the crappy things happening here and abroad, but also, I had started feeling like I’d hit a rut and had nothing new to offer.

It was close to the start of the year that I decided to get my head back in the games, committing to publish at least one review a week. When that wasn’t possible, I decided to try and make filler just so I wouldn’t get back in the rut.

Of course, part of what helped that was getting a wireless internet connection, allowing me to download stuff faster. It’s hard to review one game a week when the internet connection might need a week and a half to get my game up and running. It does have limitations, as the upload rate isn’t nearly as fast, so online games are a bit meh. (A future review will be hitting on that problem, I can assure you.)

I discovered a manga app from JUMP and that was a great find that let me dip back into comics and rediscover one of my favorite hobbies. I admit, I soured a little on it because if a manga print run ends in Japan, the publishers only give readers a few more weeks to catch up before they yank the whole collection offline. So I didn’t get to read the ending to Mashle, and I’m now reluctant to get into One Piece because it will definitely get yanked long before I get to the middle of the story. Still, it’s been great for reading re-editions of Claymore and Dragonball alongside newer titles like Kaiju No. 8.

If you looked at my Spotify wrap of 2023, it doesn’t seem like I listened to much new stuff, but that’s because I only used Spotify while riding my bike, and most of my music sampling was done on YouTube. This year, I found new favorite artists like Japanese Breakfast, Boygenius, Lil Yachty, and Ninja Sex Party. (whose early parody work cannot prepare you for their covers of songs from Tears For Fears, Pink Floyd, A-ha, Def Leppard, and Toto. Seriously, they got good. REAL GOOD!) Then sometimes, I just put on my headphones and let nostalgia sweep me away to the 80s or 90s.

Somewhere toward September, I started feeling the desire to write fiction again. I’m sure a lot of it was absorbing new influences to help reignite my creative spark. I wrote a premise, and then a second one, and I just let them both steep for a bit at the back of my mind. When NaNoWriMo rolled around in November, I got to work on the longer premise and found that I didn’t struggle to make new words each day. I was happy to do it, and excited to see where the journey took me and my characters.

In 2024, there’s more to be done to get myself back on the creative groove. I need to get a new tablet so I can get back into making proper covers for new books, (and possibly a couple for older books that just got the plain text treatment and suffered for it) and I’d like to start uploading gameplay videos to YouTube again. Streaming isn’t an option, but that doesn’t mean I can’t put out new content. I just need to find a game I want to share that won’t take one hundred episodes to get through. So perhaps Party Hard 2 will work. I’ll find something, I’m sure.

Closing this out, what I wish for all of you in the new year is finding the drive to do what you love in spite of the bad things happening around you. It’s hard not to give in to despair or even anger, and it doesn’t help that there are so many individuals looking for someone to tear down just so they can feel good about being assholes. But I truly believe that if you take some time to care for yourself and find your own spark, you can make 2024 a good year, maybe even a great one.

So to all of you, happy new year, and let’s all get out there and try to make it memorable.