Year In Review: 2012
12.31.2012. Oh, gosh, here we are again: my ninth annual review since I left the rat-race. I begin this knowing that we did lots of great traveling and that I started many projects without really completing much. So... a year of exploration, at least. Let's see what I can dig out:
Engaging and Sharing
Publishing essays and photos (on Flickr) resulted in a couple of delightful encounters. A lecturer at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, filled me in on John Morris, who collected our tangkas from Tibet during the British assaults on Everest. A lecturer from the University of London found our collection of Buddhist woodblock prints, filled us in on their history and translated them all for us. These were great payoffs for our efforts to maximize enjoyment of our collection both for ourselves and others.
I completed photo-inventories of our bead, Asian and pre-Columbian collections (the most valuable items, anyway). I would like to have the data available at my fingertips on a searchable web app, but... maybe next year.
Novel. I basked in the glory of having finished Tribe of the Breakaway Beads. I distributed many copies to friends and family, but neglected to do any real marketing. It did not take off as one of those word-of-mouth phenomena. It wasn't my intention, but it's always a secret hope. I was going to do a web "slide" presentation on the process of combining memoir, travel, and family history research into a book project, but I only got as far as gathering notes and sketches.*
Short stories. I linked up with a local writing group and converted my radio scripts to "shorts." Between those and my old fishing tales published in the Canal Times, I realized I'd devoted a lot of energy to learning to write short, punchy narratives. And, in fact, in terms of audience reach, these have been pretty successful. The writing group was fun and reading to them was a thrill. I started in on an original "Dash" story. Then... I decided that I didn't want to gear my efforts to a local writing group. I was not writing for audience approval or as a social activity. I was not so much interested in writing per se. Writing is only my favorite trident hook for fishing deep. Deep is what I want.
Another novel? My original plan was to do a quickie rewrite of The Underground Athletic Club. But, preferring to spend time exploring deep, the "quickie" got quickly complicated as it turned into a reflection on the future. I ran out of steam. But my notes are well organized* and I can pick this up again when I'm ready for a change of pace.
Web resource. My "listening club" with Pat D. resulted in our both wanting to pull together our learning about the life of the spirit. What rituals and reminders do we need to keep our souls/minds nourished and productive and to increase the frequency of those wonderful epiphany moments. I launched right into making my version a web app.** Got a great start, but the project is largely unfinished. See: Quest and Questions.
Cartooning. I'm still a frustrated cartoonist. In November I decided I needed to undertake a project with character continuity that might appeal to an audience that wasn't just my loved ones. I am not defining a "target audience" in advance, but exploring my way into it. To be continued...
Video. Yay! I finally finished a short video on the Epiphany Toppers Drum & Bugle Corps. The project got me back into my beloved video production mode. The unexpected bonus was how well the result was received by the folks in my old St. Louis neighborhood.
My commitment to being a family historian continues. It is this activity that results in the most gratifying social engagement as strangers become cousins.
The most intense experience was in Ireland. I met Tony M. online and we met in person in Mountbellew, where (along with my Dunne-family cousins) we explored our common roots in Rushestown, as well as our families' history in Ireland's fight for independence.
The insights I got into the Great Hunger in Ireland led to writing an essay about Patrick Barrett. I wanted to do a radio piece, but it turned out too long.
Did a lot of basic dog's-work on filling in information about uncles and aunts and cousins.
Exploration and Capacity-Building
*Learned to use Microsoft OneNote for semi-structured notetaking and organizing ideas.
Craft power. I sudenly needed a break from digital and indulged in a stretch of analog pursuits -- strung beads into bracelets; bought a new sewing machine and had fun altering clothes and making doorway drapes. Assorted craft books bought and skimmed, but really, the best stuff was on YouTube.
Photography. I got serious about taking better photos, both with my iPhone and with my new Sony Nex-5. Courses at creativeLIVE: iPhoneography Workshop with Jack Hollingsworth; Tabletop Product Photography with Don Giannatti; Lighting Essentials with Don Giannatti. Joined Lynda.com for more, including coursework on mastering Lightroom. Got both a wide-angle and a telephoto lens for the Sony, so that involved learning too. Reading: The Passionate Photographer: Ten Steps Toward Becoming Great by Steve Simon (Kindle).
**Worked through several tutorials at Lynda.com on "responsive web design" so that Mad In Pursuit could be mobile- and tablet-friendly.
Drawing/cartooning. Struggling to create a regular practice here. Deliberately doodling more. Reading:
- The Sketchnote Handbook by Mike Rohde (Kindle)
- Sketchnotes Field Guide for the Busy Yet Inspired Professional by Akah & McBride (Kindle)
- Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon (Kindle)
- How to Draw Cartoons by Brian Platt (Kindle)
- Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice by Ivan Brunetti (Kindle)
Home. Reorganized our living room to accommodate an entertainment nook. Upgraded the flooring and painted Jim's study and our bedroom. Reorganized masses of books and collectibles, with the end result being that our bedroom/library looks less like a dust-generating warehouse of mystery and feels more like a beautiful place to rest and read. Jim's study now contains most of the mysteries, as it should be.
Monitor calibration. Small thing, but working at two monitors that displayed color differently was driving me crazy. So I popped for a Colormunki Smile device. Recommend!
The year was rich with travel: February in Florida, May in Ireland, an October weekend in New York City (the one before Hurricane Sandy), a Thanksgiving trip to Florida and four trips to St. Louis (March, July, September and December).
Retold story of our 2008 roadtrip, adding thoughts from my handwritten diary and photos.
- The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal. Memoir and history of a Jewish family in Europe, traced through a collection of Japanese netsuke. (Audible, Kindle)
- Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck. A truck, a dog, the road. (Audible)
- Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. Story of a concentration camp survivor. (Audible)
- Into the Silence: the Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest by Wade Davis (unfinished) (Audible, Kindle)
- Killing Mr. Watson by Peter Matthiessen. South Florida. (Audible)
- Paddy's Lament, Ireland 1846-1847: Prelude to Hatred by Thomas Gallagher
- The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. (still listening -- Audible)
- Life of Pi by Yann Martel (re-read) (Audible)
- Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (Audible)
- Daemon, Freedom, and Kill Decision by Daniel Suarez (Audible)
- God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Audible)
- Pattern Recognition and Distrust That Particular Flavor by William Gibson (Audible)
- Minority Report and Other Stories by Philip K Dick (Audible)
- Bloom County Digital Library, Vol I by Berkeley Breathed (Kindle)
- The All of It by Jeannette Haien. Set in Ireland. (Kindle)
- Public Parts by Jeff Jarvis. Living publicly on the web and privacy issues. (Audible)
- Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness and Creativity by David Lynch. (re-read) (Audible)
- Shinto and Japanese New Religions by Byron Earhart (Audible)
- Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirkey (Audible)
- Wishes Fulfilled by Wayne Dyer (Audible)
- Consolations of Philosophy and Religion for Athiests by Alain de Botton (Audible)
- Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer (Audible, Kindle)
- From Ritual to Romance by Jessie Weston. In-depth look at Grail legends. (still reading) (Kindle)
- The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp (still reading) (Kindle)
- The Art Spirit by Robert Henri (still reading) (Kindle)
- The Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly P. Hall (still reading) (Kindle)
- Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking) by Bayles and Orland (Kindle)
- As If: Modern Enchantment and the Literary Prehistory of Virtual Reality by Michael Saler (Kindle)
- Creative Mythology by Joseph Campbell (ongoing)
I didn't really produce much in the way of creative products -- no great stories in a loud voice. But the year was rich in EXPLORATION AND CAPACITY-BUILDING, taking all activities into consideration. My SHARING with friends and family was very meaningful and inspired me to work harder. I have much to be thankful for.
I can't decide if I'm really "retired" now -- that is, leaving behind the ambitions for "success" in a competitive world -- or if I'm simply mustering resources for another stab at it ("success," that is -- which I would probably define now as an audience of strangers who become my fans and who like what I have to say).