2017: The Year That Lasted Ten Years

A week or so before Christmas, I had the following thought:

What if we’ve ended the world and just haven’t realized it yet? What if we’ve entered the walking ghost phase of Humanity Poisoning, and we’re all walking around, toodling about on our social media and taking selfies with dogs, but we haven’t yet realized that the world has already gone beyond the brink and no part of it can be saved — but we just haven’t caught up to the reality yet? Meaning, we’ve flipped all the switches, spun all the dials, then caved in the control panel with a crowbar to make sure you can’t undo any of the settings. Electing the Fucking Asshole to the highest office of the land was like setting off a chain of dominoes, except the lead domino is actually just a giant concrete slab that crushes the entire domino chain before they can clickity-click-click together, one after the other. We careen toward economic depression and climate catastrophe and each mass shooting bigger than the last. And now we wait as this unfixable machine slowly rattles itself to pieces, largely unaware and at least vaguely, foolishly, spitefully optimistic even as we watch the pieces fall off or burn up.

I don’t believe it’s true, to be clear.

But I had the thought, and it’s a pretty good indicator of where my head is at in this, the Year That Took Ten Years, 2017.

I’ve been ping-ponging between optimism and pessimism in a nearly manic fashion. I began this year fearing the worst, but then took some comfort that the monsters that grabbed the wheel of our democracy are actually very, very stupid. My evaluation: they’re not good at it. They are comically inept, in fact, and it feels less like watching the Wehrmacht and more like watching ten clowns fuck each other in an over-inflated bouncy-house. Less like watching a finely-tuned military operation, and more like watching a drunk guy running around Disneyworld hitting people with a hammer. Less like pure evil and more like weaponized dipshittery.

On the other hand, the clown orgy, the hammer-smacking, the rampant dipshitty — well, like I said, it’s fucking rampant, isn’t it? It’s ceaseless. And that’s where my optimism suddenly rides the roller coaster into a deep valley — these people are stupid fucking assholes, yes, but they are tireless at it, and there are many of them, and though they are not efficient, they are still doing damage left and right, en masse. You let one guy with a hammer run around Disneyworld all day, he’s gonna brain a lot of people. And the news is just like, ohh, goddamnit. You open social media and it’s like, the Thing That Should’ve Been A Scandal Yesterday has now been replaced by seven more, and that last Shoulda Been A Scandal feels like it happened six years ago even though it happened six hours ago. And it’s so ceaseless I fear we’re becoming inured to it. “Ahh, I see President Asshole has changed the law so now it’s okay to enslave children at factories, that’s cool. And he personally killed the last bald eagle before tweeting his 3,412th tweet this week about how Hillary Clinton is the head of ISIS and how she and the FBI should be sent to a Moon Prison, except he misspelled Moon, which is a thing I didn’t know you could do. Cool. Everything’s cool. This is normal.”

(The last bald eagle’s dying whisper: “This is not normal.”)

Then I feel optimism again because despite the gerrymandering and suppression and winnowing of our voting laws, we’ve made some real strides there. I mean, Virginia? Alabama? (Yeah, know Doug Jones is a Milkshake Duck, but he’s a Democrat in Alabama, who’d you think he was gonna be?) But then it goes back to pessimism again because dear god how did the GOP ever support Roy Moore and wait how the fuck did they ever support President Asshole and god if I have to see Paul Ryan’s smug, gormless face anymore I think I’ll literally take a shit on the Constitution, and don’t even get me started on the melting candle that is Mitch McConnell and —

See what I’m saying? Back and forth, back and forth.

I guess that’s the best thing I can say about 2017, in terms of all that out there *gesticulates in the general direction of the real world* — at least it coulda been worse. That’s 2017, to me: it coulda, maybe shoulda, been worse.

Personally and professionally, I’m doing pretty all right.

I released Empire’s End, aka the last of the Star Wars: Aftermath trilogy (Print | eBook). It hit list, landing at number three on the NYT Bestsellers list, which truly proves the hater’s narrative that these books are terrible and don’t sell any copies. (Which I see is also the narrative now somehow surrounding The Last Jedi — the very bad movie that no one saw, and is so bad and is performing so poorly that it has buried Disney in piles of money, oh well, guess they won’t make Episode IX after all.) I think we’re supposed to do AWARDS ELIGIBILITY POSTS, and I’ll casually note that I’d love for the Aftermath trilogy to get an award nod somewhere, just to put a burr in the bigots’ panties. Sidenote: the Aftermath trilogy continues to pop up at the Locus Bestsellers List.

Also out: the fourth Miriam Black book, Thunderbird (Print | eBook). This did not sell as well as I’d hoped, and continues to kinda… poke along. As to why that is, I have some ideas, but I’ll unpack them at the close of the series in a year’s time. I’m proud of the book, regardless. I hope that over time it finds its audience. If you’re a Miriam Black fan, please: proselytize the books as you can! Books like that do well with word-of-mouth. So. OPEN MOUTH, SHOOT OUT WORDS.

Damn Fine Story (Print | eBook) also came out this fall, and has had sales that surpassed my wildest dreams — people seem to be responding to it very well, I think, and they seem to dig that it’s like Stephen King’s On Writing, if Stephen King were instead a drunken, lusty elk who had learned the Ways of Man and how to tell stories to his fellow elkfolk. The greatest compliment I get on this book is that people have read it and emailed me or tweeted at me to say that it helped them figure out a problem in their work, which is ideal. It’s the whole point!

Had a short story in From A Certain Point-of-View about Wuher, the cantina barkeep on Tatooine, and why he hates droids so damn bad. Very proud of it, even though it clearly proves that Lucasfilm would never hire me again after the dismal failure that was Aftermath (*snerk*).

I wrote some more comics: in this case, a relaunch and reboot of the Turok character for Dynamite. The last issue, number five, comes out this Wednesday, so if you want a dude kicking the ass of fascist dinosaurs, I got you covered. Lot of fun to write, and working for Dynamite has been a blast, so: woo and hoo.

Invasive was optioned for TV with David Slack and Jerry Bruckheimer, imagined as a show called Unthinkable — technically, it was optioned in 2016, but only this year did it start to get some power behind it. I’ve read the script this past week and it’s amazing, and I’m hopeful it lands on your television sets this next year if only because the script is so good I want to see it myself. (Slack is a fucking master.)

I wrote a 260,000-word book this year. That book is Wanderers.

I’m also currently finishing up the final Miriam book, Vultures.

And personally, family has been great — B-Dub continues to grow up and be an amazing little dude. He’s eager and engaged and he reads and writes, and he sits every day at his drawing table and draws amazing things. He plays guitar and can read music. We’re good here. I traveled a lot. California. Vegas. Utah. Colorado, NYC, Florida.

Unsure exactly what 2018 will bring.

Politically, probably more manure.

Though hopefully elections in 2018 will be decisive.

Professionally, well.

In January, The Raptor & The Wren lands (Print | eBook), and it’s a book I’m particularly proud of — Miriam Black’s penultimate adventure is an unholy ride, I hope. I wrote it in the midst of some serious insomnia last year, but honestly, I think that helped produce the book that it became.

In fact, hey, look, I just found the Publisher’s Weekly review:

“Wendig is in top form for his fifth horror-thriller (after 2017’s Thunderbird) featuring sharp-edged psychic Miriam Black, who has the power to learn how and when people will die. Miriam has discovered a new ability: she can control birds with her mind. It’s a neat trick, and one that will come in handy in the days ahead while she helps former FBI agent Thomas Grosky track down a killer who looks just like her and is a blast from her very messy past. Miriam’s search takes her into the darkest, most vicious depths of her talents, and back into the arms of former lover Louis Darling, whose eventual fate Miriam has already glimpsed. She knows fighting her destiny is a losing proposition, but she tries anyway, all while dodging a horrifying entity that wants to annihilate her. Wendig expertly splashes Miriam’s considerable emotional pain across the page, never sparing her the price of her gut-wrenching circumstances, and closes with a shocking twist that is a true game-changer.”

And then after that —

Then after that —

*checks notes*

*shakes notes*

*stares at them for a while*

I got nothing.

That’s it for 2017.

One book.

That’s because Wanderers, my Very Big Epic Horror-ish Novel, is now publishing in 2019.

This is a very new phenomenon for me.

One book? In one year? WHO AM I AND WHAT HAVE I BECOME

Real-talk, though: this is essential, because when I publish too many books traditionally, I end up competing with myself on bookshelves. That’s a hard, weird reality to being an over-productive writer. Bookstores can only carry so many of my books, and so — I make it harder for them to do this. That’s just the reality of physical shelf-space, sadly.

So, I’ll take 2017 and just write more fucking books, I guess. Comics, too, I hope.

As is my way.

Anyway.

That’s it for me. I’ll be some places, if you care to find me.

I hope you’re well.

Let’s kick 2017 to the fucking curb and let’s make 2018 better than the last. Which means we have to be invested and involved. It means we gotta work toward the light and fight the dark. It means we have to champion causes and our principles even when it hurts, even when it’s hard. It means we have to vote. It means we have to create, not destroy. It means we have to share love, even if we have to do so aggressively and in the face of danger and oppression. We have to see our privilege and demand restitution. We gotta do better. So let’s do better, together.

Fuck off, 2017.

Hello, 2018.

See you on the other side, my precious muffins.

P.S. no matter what happens, at least we still have dogs, btw

P.P.S. me and drunken bad-ass Kameron Hurley show up on the Ditch Diggers End-of-Year podcast with Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace, so give that shit a listen, you silly little wizards, you

26 comments

  • Keep writing epic blog posts, my friend. It’s been four years since I guest posted on your blog about kicking cancer’s ass and writing four books in a year. 2017 was worse than that year. 2018 has to be better right?

  • Thanks for scooping the contents of your brain out and sharing them with us over the course of another year.

    I got Damn Fine Story in my stocking for Christmas so there’s that. I also took the leap and have my last book out for reading to five different people because this one…this one, with a few more tweaks, I think will good enough to let out into the world soon(ish).

    2017 was a monkey throwing flaming bags of poo. Maybe 2018 will be better.

  • Thank you for this. I am guilty, as I suspect many are, of feeling just a smidge better every time I read about others being just as outraged. It’s a bad cycle, but for now it’s a small miracle. Thank you again.

  • Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Chuck, from the other side of the pond, the bitterly-Brexited-full-of-lies-we-stand-alone UK. I hope 2018 is a bit better for both our countries. I still hold the hope that the fascists and nationalists won’t win.

  • I still love your posts, Chuck, but you’re a year behind on this one! Of course the writing was more clearly on the wall in the UK this time last year, while you were still hoping it would turn out half right. I just hope my five year prediction in my last flash fiction of 2016 won’t come true. There’s no sign of any changes to it so far, though.
    While I’m here, thank you for getting me into the weekly flash fiction habit. I’ve learned a lot through hitting those 1000 words, week in, week out. I’m so glad you’ve achieved incredible success – you’ve worked for it.
    Happy new year, and keep ignoring the signs, it’s safer that way! 🙂

  • I concur. fuck off 2017. My mother died. I am forced to sell her house, the one I grew up in, the one I thought I’d live in until I died, and the draconian crap I have to wade through because I am not rich is depressing beyond my belief. My sister in law is on life support since October, over a million dollars in medical bills for a family barely making it paycheck to minimum wage paycheck and no end of life laws to help. And the despotic insane a-hole ripping everyone off… yeah…. fuck off 2017.

  • December 27, 2017 at 6:36 PM // Reply

    Your writing, your ramblings, your rantings, and your friendship have been one of the few bright lights in this past year on a variety of fronts, and for putting yourself out there this year alone I will always adore you. (In a respectful and totally not stalkerish way, of course. Never mind the blind spot in my shootin’ eye – we already talked about that, Stephen is FINE.)

    Here in smoky/sunny SoCal we’re coming to the end of either a) some alarming doggo health drama, or b) one of our precious doggos, so crossing fingers, toes, and paws that we can end this dumpster fire of a year on a happy note. Never give up, never surrender!

    *charges off into the sunset brandishing a bag of Swedish Fish and chugging mead*

      • December 29, 2017 at 8:13 PM // Reply

        Sadly, as of this afternoon, Lady Emmaline Rumblefuzz Blackmoore has left the building. She was a fierce lady who gave serious side-eye and will always be missed. Angus is now an only dog and not quite sure what he thinks about it yet. The monkeys in the house are devastated.

  • Much success in 2018. I plan to buy your writing book–I am really stuck in my writing life.

    I am not going to even bother with politics, other than to be informed, skip the stupid stuff aka whatever any Trump who is NOT president is doing on Instagram, and contribute to candidates in whom I truly believe. Let’s hope Fall 2018 brings a wave of good people to our Congress.

  • Yeh… fuck off 2018! I love your posts. Delighted its been a good year for you and one 250k book isn’t too shabby! And as for the politics thank you for reassuring me that the people of the United States are not as nuts as I am, and at least Trump being elected meant the joke I tweeted about it to a typical comedy news quiz was used on the show … which is the only piece of my writing to see the light of day this year. So I wrote 12 published words mwahhahaaargh! I think you’re well ahead of me.

    Best of luck for a fantastic 2018 for you and the rest of the folks here too.

    Cheers

    MTM

  • Thanks for helping me through the very dark days of 2017 with your humor and unique view of the world. I hate wishing my life away, but come on November 6, 2018 — I’ve got to know if America will be saved.

  • The shitshow that has been 2017 aside, I can answer one question for you, at least as far as those in Canada are concerned.

    Re: Miriam Black.

    The cheapest paperback I can find is $20.69 CDN (on amazon.ca, on sale from $22.99), and it’s $22.16 on Chapters/Indigo. Plus tax, that’s a $25 paperback That’s a tough pill to swallow for a paperback. I have (and will continue) to pay for your writing, because I love it so, but… damn. That hurts. I had a hard time with $12.99 paperbacks.

    And yeah, I could do it “cheap” on kindle. But I do so love my dead tree editions, still.

    I’ll be buying it anyway 🙂 But it’s a bump that means I have to plan it, rather than just do it. That $20 threshold is a killer, for me, and I’m sure for others, even if it’s a trade paperback.

    One way or the other, though, keep writtin’ ’em, I’ll keep readin’ ’em. Thunderbird, Raptor & the Wren, Empire’s End, and Phasma (not yours, I know 😉 ) are currently sitting in my cart, waiting for payday.

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