I'm going to be honest, I've had some really good bourbon and whiskey tonight. So this Christmas edition of Cooking for One is going to more closely resemble the Random Meanderings of old. If there is any sort of rhyme or reason from start to finish, I assure you it's completely unintended.
First things first. Here's a road map to Todd, if you will. If you think you know me or want to know me, here's the key.
In order from 'closest representation of the 'real' Todd' to 'just some words I wrote.'
Live Conversation (if we're friends, or you're not acting a shit): I will be the most real when I am in the same room as someone. If I can feel you (those damn empathic nerves) or see your eyes, you have a better shot of actually learning what makes me tick. And no, it's not a little steampunk heart powered by a rare element from a faraway planet. I mean, I don't think it is. I'm not really sure what they did actually do during that open heart surgery in 1997. I do know that there is a nice combo teflon/gortex patch in my chest. So, I've got that going for me.
Blog (this thing what you're reading now): I tend to be a little more raw here than anywhere else online. I figure if you are one of the 30 people that regularly make your way over here, then you deserve a little more of a piece of me. Thoughts, feelings, vulnerabilities, dick and fart jokes will all find there way on these pages. I make no apologies. You all clicked through the warning.
Facebook: Pics and witticisms. Not a bad snapshot, but very rarely does it have the depth of my actual thoughts, hopes, and dreams.
Instagram: The picture book version of Facebook.
Twitter: Mostly my poems or links to my writing stuff.
So...I guess the lesson is...let's hang out. Which is ironic, since I'm largely an introvert. I crave being around people the same time I crave my own space. It's rather a fucked up internal dynamic.
Speaking of fucked up, looks like 2016 claimed another one.
Here's where I get in to trouble.
Yes. Admittedly, 2016 has been an INCREDIBLY shitty year for the deaths of so many talented people. And that's sad.
But here's the thing.
I can't be mad at 2016. I can't curse it. I can't hate on it or wish it dead. I can however click an iconic blue LIKE thumb when people DO do those things.
But I don't hate 2016.
And here's why. Here's a little of what happened in my life in 2016, that make me thankful that I actually lived through that year (up to now, that is. How horribly ironic it would be if I died in my sleep after posting this. Although it I bet it would kick ass for blog page hits. But...back to the matter at hand).
None of these things on this list should be a surprise to my regular readers. In many cases, there is a least one blog post that dives deep on each item on this list. And no...that's not really a way to trick you in to re-reading past posts. It's more that I'm buzzed right now and I know I probably explained it better back when I wrote about it.
Why I loved 2016
- North Central Ohio WriMos:
- I fell in with a writing group and stopped feeling like an outsider, and started feeling like a member of the group. This was a second group in addition to the Columbus group I'm part of. This group held a writing retreat where I truly felt like I came out of the writing closet so to speak. The things I've learned by being a part of this family have done more to bolster my confidence and craft.
- ∫Strong Friendships with Mentors
- I have some friends who are writers. Damn good writers. 2016 was the year I strengthened those friendships. I could write a book on what it means to have strong friends and people who inspire you creatively. And I might. But I am grateful for them every day. They know who they are because I remind them as often as I can.
- I Admitted that I was "A Writer."
- 2016 was the year I stopped saying that I wanted to be a writer. It was the year I stopped saying, "I do some writing in my spare time." It was the year that I declared in no uncertain terms that I am a writer. Period. No qualifiers or explanations. I'm a writer.
- I Finished My First Draft of a Novel
- As a writer, I've written a shit ton. Blogs. Journals. Poems. Stories. But I have always been plagued by that troubling 'first novel.' On November 23rd, 2016, I typed "The End" on the first draft of my first novel.
- I Finished and Hit 50,000 Words for NaNoWriMo
- I made a serious effort at National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in 2015. I hit the wall at 23,000 words. 27.000 words shy of the 50,000 word 'goal.' This year, I finished it. With the help and support of some very close friends as well as the NCOW group. I smashed the goal. And finished my first draft of my first novel (as mentioned above). Look for 'The Treachery of Rainbows' in 2017. It's going to happen.
- I Started Writing Poetry Again
- This one may not seem like as big of a deal, but being a poet was one of the first things I would say to describe myself. I have always been a poet. Much like being a writer, though, 2016 is the year that I fully embraced that title. Not just one who writes poems, but one who knows that his heart feels a little more intensely than most. And that extra intensity is a gift. It's what drives me to put the words on paper.
- Imaginarium Happened
- Imaginarium is a conference heavily geared toward the craft and lifestyle of writing. Through some fortuitous breaks, I was able to go this year (when I previously thought I would not be able to). And that weekend-long conference was one of the final juggernauts that tore down the wall of denial. After meeting the people I met, learning the things I learned there, and living the things I lived that weekend, there was absolutely no way left for me to deny that I was a writer.
- My Love of Typewriters Was Rekindled
- A very good friend reintroduced me to a very old love of mine. Typewriters. I will forever be grateful to her for that. It's something so simple and innocuous, but that physical presence of typing on a typewrite fills me with an indescribable joy. And through this process, I met some amazing people that I am now pleased to call friends.
- I Will Be Published in 2017
- One of the final huge milestones for me in 2016, made possible by all of the things listed above (and covered in-depth in previous blog posts), is the determination to be published. To get my words out there. To make a difference in someone's life by the words that come from mine.
It's Christmas (just checked the clock, yup. Still Christmas).
And I found out today that some of the poetry I've been writing has been helping a friend (whom I just really met and got to know in 2016, another tick in the plus column for 2016). This friend is going through some shit that's not really mine to talk about. But she reached out to me and told me that my poetry was helping her get through it.
Yeah. I'll own it.
You see...one of the reasons I write is to work through shit that's going on in my mind, my heart, my soul. Some of it is rainbows and unicorn farts. Some of it is darker shit. But the only way I know how to work through it is the words.
It's always been the words. Whether it's poems, lyrics, stories, screenplays, the thousand-words of a photo--it's always been words. That's how I work through shit. I used to keep it to myself. Somewhere along the way, I shared a poem. Or a story. It was probably to impress a girl. And it resonated. I figured out that yes, one reason I write was to work through my own shit. But what if another one of the reasons I was a writer was to help someone else work through their shit?
I had this conversation with a writer and cherished friend whom I adore dearly this week. And I told her that one of the things I was looking forward to in my writing career was sitting in a bookstore somewhere, doing a signing and having someone come up to me and tell me how much my book meant to them. I got a little misty talking about it. I have read so many authors in my life who have moved me in ways I can't describe and who have helped me...well...helped me live, that I want to be that for someone else.
I want someone to read my books or my poems and be moved by them the same way I was moved as a reader.
So...today, in talking to a friend, she told me just that. That my poems were helping her. That it was just like I was writing what was on her heart.
And I cried. She helped a dream come true for me without even knowing it.
So that's where we are.
Christmas night. Bourbon and whiskey are flowing.
And I'm grateful.
Grateful for the gifts I have been given in 2016. Grateful for the chances that await me in 2017.
Grateful that I am self-aware enough to know what I need from and what I have to offer to those in my life.
It truly is a wonderful place to be.
And as a writer, it makes for a hell of a story.
Merry Christmas to my friends who celebrate it, and a joyous day filled with love and gratitude to all.