I’m struggling to be thankful this year. I really have to admit it. Okay, let me get through the hard stuff first because it makes the happy ending all the more powerful, and yes, please read it all. I promise there’s a happy ending. (If you know my writing, you know I prefer happy endings).
If any of you have followed my posts and the drama of my life since October 2009 , you’re well aware that I have had a lot of drama, trauma, sadness and difficulty. In October 2009 my first was first diagnosed and hospitalized against her will with bipolar disorder. She ended up in the hospital twice that time and then four more times in 2011 when she relapsed in March, pretty much meaning hospitalization from March through late May, at which time she was still not fully recovered but insisted on a divorce, got one, and went back to Brasil.
Then there’s the job front. My sucky company had long been struggling with what to do with me. I was too good at my job, actually. Sounds cocky but in truth, their evaluation of every task I was hired for was excellent work until the day I was fired. But instead of talking about it with me a building on my strengths, they kept shoving me off on various departments to see what would stick, creating frustration for me and for some coworkers. Then in May 2010, they laid me off. And they couldn’t give me a good reason for it either. In fact, to assuage their guilt, they gave me three month’s severence but also forced me to sign an agreement promising not to sue them for anything. When I later discovered that the most likely cause for this firing was health care costs associated with my wife, I deeply regretted signing that agreement. But hey, at the time, the money seemed more important.
Then there’s the ministry job which I did well and succeeded at despite a pastor’s attempts to derail me with belittling criticism. Some people just cannot work well with others, even in ministry. It was a great matter of pride for me that my relationship with my team was so solid and our times together so fun for the 18 months I was there, despite everything happening with the pastor. But in October 2010, I could no longer go on and, since he’d found someone to step in, I left.
Then there’s unemployment which got cancelled several times. Once due to that pastor’s misstatements saying I quit, which did not happen. I was replaced before I could. And several more because my sucky company filed an incorrect tax form saying I worked in Missouri when I didn’t. So Texas kept billing me for overpayment and saying Missouri should pay me. We spent four months at the end of 2010 with no income. What a joyous Christmas that was.
There’s also a few so-called friends who abandoned me during my difficulties. Was I angry and bitter sometimes? Read the previous paragraphs again and ask why that’s surprising? But they didn’t care enough to stand beside me and walk through it, proving both their lack of character and the lack of genuineness in our so-called friendship.
Okay, so far you’re wondering where the thankful part comes in, right? How can anyone be thankful after all this?
Well, I am thankful because my lifelong dream of being a published novelist finally happened October 4, 2011 with the release of my debut science fiction novel The Worker Prince. So far reviews have been positive overall and the sales steady. We’re not a bestseller, but it’s a small press release. And I hope it will continue to grow. (Makes great Christmas gifts, hint, hint)
I’m also thankful that there will be a second book. I turned in the sequel, The Returning, in early November to my publisher. And editing will commence soon for a Summer 2012 release.
I’m thankful for my first magazine sale to Tales Of The Talisman of La Migra, one of my first and favorite SF short stories. Coming Summer 2012.
I’m thankful for my first anthology sales to Of Fur and Fire which is out as of this past summer and Wicked Weeds which is pending release.
I’m thankful for my first official anthology editing gig from Flying Pen Press, Space Battles, and the willingness of writers like Mike Resnick to contribute to it. Coming April 2012.
I’m thankful for a chance to move and start over in Kansas which has turned out to be more of a blessing than I ever could have imagined.
I’m thankful for the growth in this blog which has gone from a few hundred two hits over summer 2011 to over 2k a month regularly.
I’m thankful for tons of industry support and friendship to not only keep SFFWRTCHT going but help me get national publicity for my novel’s release when I had little or no budget.
I’m thankful for being on my first Con panels this year. For Rainforest Writer’s Village wonderful scholarship and the chance to write beside the likes of Mary Robinette Kowal, Kat Richardson, Jennifer Brozek and so many more. And also a scholarship to the James Gunn Online Writing Workshop which has challenged me as a writing experience but nonetheless was good for me and a privilege to be a part of.
I’m thankful for so many Twitter friendships turning into real, solid friendships. So many that I can’t name you all but I think you know who you are.
I’m thankful for those who did stick it out and support and encourage me despite my bitterness and anger. Those who understood how hard it was to just get up everyday and keep breathing and trying so many days and stood by me to lend me the strength I needed to press on. And some even showed up to help me move on a very hot desert day at the end of August. THANK YOU!
I’m thankful for knowing 2012 is going to be better. Not only are more books in the works but I am a pro guest at some very exciting Cons, including ConQuest 43, Convergence, and more. And for ChamBana Con which I depart for in just a few hours for the weekend.
I’m thankful I can look forward to time at Rainforest Writer’s Village again this February. And other adventures which will develop but I’m not even aware of yet.
I’m thankful for the serialization of my debut novel on Ray Gun Revival.
I’m thankful for a publisher whose passion for my novel and me is a daily encouragement.
I’m thankful for two lovely, sweet doggies whose joy at being with me and seeing me delights and encourages me every hour of every day.
Okay, that’s the best I can do for a happy ending. Happy Thanksgiving to all.
Now if only I had a job…
Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chatevery Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog. His second novel, The Returning, sequel to The Worker Prince, is forthcoming in Summer 2012.