Sitting here on the last day of 2011 I’m sitting here speechless at what a huge year it was for Kicked Out. This little book was a tremendous labor of love not only for me, but for each and every contributor whose relationship to this book was deep, and raw in a way I’ve never witnessed with any other anthology I’ve seen. It’s been a humbling and awe inspiring year to witnesses and be part of. When I first began working on Kicked Out I’d hoped to reach a few people — I couldn’t even imagine how many lives this book would touch, nor could I have pictured the year we would have.
2011 brought two honors from the American Library Association marking it as a top 11 book for LGBTQ adults, and another which recognized it as a top 10 book for LGBTQ youth. Then there was being a Lambda Literary Award Finalist. The experience of being there at those awards and seeing my baby’s cover projected multiple times my size brought me to tears and served as a poignant symbol for how much bigger than me and my story this book became.
As 2011 draws to a close, I’m thinking about all the incredible people i’ve been privileged to connect with literally all over the world. People who’ve reached out to me after reading or hearing about Kicked Out who previously had felt alone, but because of the stories alive on these bound pages for the first time felt like they were seen and understood and had community. I’m thinking too about the incredibly brave folks who have put pen to page and told their stories — Asheville, Portland, San Francisco, New York and other places. Having the privilege of witnessing the creation of stories matters as much to me as any honor or award. It’s the starfish moments that ultimately make this work meaningful to me.
In addition to the awards Kicked Out received this year, I was shocked to receive an honorable mention in the Astraea Lesbian Writers Fund for Fiction. When they called to tell me, I nearly dropped my phone. Let me be real, I’m a primarily self-taught writer. I don’t have an MFA (nor do I plan to get one). I can’t diagram a sentence, I didn’t start writing until I was 17 and homeless. I’m dyslexic. I have no idea why what I do works, but I’ve learned to accept the magic and innocence of how writing works for me. 2011 was a year of having that seen, respected and understood in ways that continue to blow me away.
This past year was one of growth and excitement. I also spent a tremendous amount of time writing. 2010 had been about finding my voice and rediscovering my love of writing after the stress and pressure of actually seeing Kicked Out through the publishing process. 2011 was about accepting and falling in love with the novel that had me in a chokehold. ‘Roving Pack‘ is not the novel I expected I would write, it is certainly not what I planned as a sophomore book but it is the story I needed to write. Sitting here on New Years Eve with a manuscript for this upcoming novel (don’t worry way more details to come in 2012) I’m thinking back to the horoscope I got a few weeks ago:
“you have a sacred duty not only to yourself, but also to the people you care about, to use your imagination more aggressively and expressively as you contemplate what might lie ahead for you. You simply cannot afford to remain safely ensconced within your comfort zone, shielded from the big ideas and tempting fantasies that have started calling and calling and calling to you.”
I don’t set new years resolutions, and I’m not super into woo woo astrology, but these are the words left me shaking and speechless when I read them. They are the words I’m using to guide my actions and work for the next year. I’ve got a good feeling about 2012. I can’t wait to begin aggressively using my imagination, and take the creative risks I feel deeply called to.