7 min read

2023 in Review and What’s to Come

Looking Back and Looking Forward
2023 in Review and What’s to Come
Photo by Laura Ockel / Unsplash

At the end of each year I like to pause and reflect on what I’ve done over the course of the previous twelve months. When I look back at this year, my view is dominated by the horrors of mass slaughter, ethnic cleansing, and genocide. As I write this, Israel has killed well over 21,000 civilians in Gaza; that number continues to climb daily, and includes nearly 9,000 children. Around 56,000 are reported injured, including over 8,600 children*. These numbers will be out of date by the time this reaches your inbox, and do not reflect additional violence against Palestinians in other areas.  

For many of us, this feels like a helpless, hopeless nightmare. This vast scale of cruelty and suffering is not something that any one person staring at a screen will be able to solve. It all feels too big and too awful. But we are bound to each other, across the world, and there are a few things we simply must always strive to do, even when the work feels impossible. We must care for ourselves and the people around us. We must believe that the world can be better than it is now. We must never, ever give up. Wanting things to change is not enough; believing that they can change is a starting point, not the finish line. Never giving up means continuing to push back cruelty and suffering wherever we can, even when the weight feels impossible to move. We have work to do, and we must do it. Together, our sustained efforts can and will make a difference. 

Here are some things you can do to keep pushing. Where resources are listed below, you can donate—but you can also click through to learn how to get involved. These organizations and the ones they’re connected to can make use of your skills and abilities. Don’t be afraid to look deeper into what that might involve.

  • This informational Google doc is updated almost daily with information and direct actions Canadians can take to pressure the Canadian government into withdrawing its support for genocide by demanding a permanent ceasefire.
  • Learn what it actually takes to escape Gaza, then donate money to help get families out of danger. If you are currently wondering why people don’t “just leave,” this reading may help you develop a new understanding of the situation.
  • Donate to the Red Cross. As a dear friend told me when I expressed a feeling of helplessness, this is almost always a good move when you’re not sure how to help.
  • Donate to Doctors Without Borders, who are working to facilitate the movement of medical supplies and staff.
  • Get involved with PCRF, an organization that provides quality medical care to children throughout the Middle East regardless of nationality, religious or political affiliation.
  • Connect with Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization committed to the liberation of all people. They’re organizing phone banks that will allow you to turn your rage and grief into meaningful, strategic action.
  • Check out and share these resources, curated by Room Magazine, including ways to call on governments to demand a ceasefire, how you can donate and support the relief efforts, ways to fight disinformation, and a reading list to educate yourself. This list includes resources for Canadian citizens looking to take action. 
  • Check out and share additional resources, curated by Autostraddle, including international legal and humanitarian aid resources, and organizations that are currently on the ground in Gaza providing medical aid and support.
  • Use Resistbot to message all of your representatives at one time, demanding a ceasefire, immediate humanitarian aid, and an end to occupation.

Care for yourself and the people around you. Believe that the world can be better than it is now. Never give up. 

Now, looking back at the rest of the year:

At the end of 2022, I was physically and mentally exhausted and had been working hard on trying to change my lifestyle to prioritize my well-being. At the time, I said this: 

In 2023, I’m looking forward to continuing on a trajectory of rest. I’m going to walk more, cook more, eat more vegetables. I’m also looking forward to the Personal Canons Cookbook, which is already shaping up to be something truly special.

The Personal Canons Cookbook did, indeed, shape up to be something truly special. I’m so deeply proud of that project (more on that below). I did walk more—I spent much of the year going on daily walks with the person who has been my life’s anchor, and I can now handle a few miles at a time, which feels like an immense achievement! On these walks, I learned to look for hawks and rabbits and quail. I did eat more vegetables, and I quit drinking for several months, and I started waking up an hour and a half earlier each day, a habit I intend to continue.

My other goals—resting more, cooking more, continuing to improve my health via lifestyle changes—didn’t quite come to pass, because they became impossible. This year I got four CT scans, a mammogram, a nerve conduction study, and three biopsies. I watched my heart beating in realtime on a screen. I watched video imaging of the muscles in my throat trying to swallow. I drank a lot—and I mean a lot—of barium. I learned to give myself injections at home, how to apply a continuous glucose monitor, how to pay attention to the deterioration of systems in my own body. I received the beginning of an education in the field of rare disease, and I learned that I can use fascination to replace fear. Nothing can be that scary if I decide I am very, very interested in how it works.

I have also not rested much this year because I have been traveling. Some of the travel was for work—I attended San Diego Comic Con, and taught at Alpha for a couple of days. I also got to spend time in the mountains with friends. Over the summer, I took a road trip across the country in a rented RV that was definitely not intended to take on that kind of mileage—I crossed through 18 US states, driving into and out of thunderstorms and deserts and forests and mountain passes, immersing myself in the shocking beauty of places. Then, at the end of the year, when the relationship at the heart of my life ended quite suddenly and painfully, I undertook more travel, staying with friends who have been supporting me through a season of grief. Santa Ana, Memphis, St Louis, Durham, Steamboat Springs, Atlanta, Powhatan, and Frankfurt have all welcomed me in all my mess. 

2023 has been a year of immense effort. In the end, even with all that hard work, this year has confronted me with how little I can control. It’s given me the gift of recognizing why I work the way I do: not to try to control or change things, but because the work itself matters to me, nourishes me, and helps me build something I find beautiful. So here’s the work:

In all, I wrote about 298,000 words in 2023. That’s more than last year, and  includes 10 comic scripts, 10 pitches, 7 short stories, 2 novel rewrites, 1 novella, and 1 game. That wordcount doesn’t include the editorial work I did on Stone Soup, which ran a total of 103 features this year, including the weekly digest, interviews, guest features, Supper Club posts, and the Personal Canons Cookbook. I read 423 books

I was nominated for some awards this year, and Just Like Home won the August Derleth Award for Best Horror Novel! What a stunning honor. I published 8 comics, 2 short stories, and 12 essays. Issue #1 of White Widow, my first solo Marvel run, went into a second printing. The collected Know Your Station came out in September, and Just Like Home came out in paperback in May. 

If you want to read any of the things I published this year, you can:

  • Know Your Station - The wealthiest people in the solar system abandoned the Earth for a sanctuary in space, leaving the poor to die from climate change. But the 1% won't be safe for long…
  • Just Like Home - "Come home." Vera's mother called and Vera obeyed. In spite of their long estrangement, in spite of the memories—she's come back to the home of a serial killer. Now available in paperback!
  • White Widow - Superspy. Rogue agent. Shadow of the Black Widow. Yelena Belova has been many things, but striking out on her own is new to her. Now that she's finally free to choose her own path, who will she become? 
  • Marvel Voices: Pride - A short story featuring everyone's favorite thief and seductress, Black Cat.
  • Crypt of Shadows - A short story featuring Werewolf By Night, the Incredible Hulk, and Kraven the Hunter. 
  • “Wild to Covet” reprinted in Fit for the Gods - A short story retelling the myth of Thetis, mother to Achilles. 
  • “Such an Honor” in The Sunday Morning Transport - A short story about creating art, building a reputation, earning fame, and the horrible weight of recognition.

In 2024, I’m going to take a breath before figuring out what life is going to look like. There are some certainties in the future, though, and one of them is the 2024 Stone Soup series that will start in February! Stories About Stories will present a deep dive into the way books are made, from concept to execution, featuring interviews from every step of production and sale. I’ve got some really incredible books lined up from some of my favorite authors, and I can’t wait to celebrate the teams that make those books happen. 

If you’re not already subscribed to this newsletter, I hope you’ll consider it! If you sign up for a free subscription to Stone Soup, you’ll get:

  • The Stories About Stories interview series
  • A weekly round-up of my favorite things from around the internet
  • Regular media reviews from pop culture luminary Alasdair Stuart
  • My favorite books of each month
  • Occasional guest features
  • Career updates and announcements

If you sign up for a paid subscription, you’ll get all that, plus:

  • Access to the comments, featuring a truly lovely community
  • Monthly writing/coworking dates, during which time we’ll spend a couple of hours creating things in tandem
  • Access to a lush backlog of paid content, including recipes, book recommendations, playlists, and exclusive original fiction.
  • The Personal Canons Cookbook Ebook, which collects a full year’s worth of essays and recipes from brilliant guest authors, plus essays on food, dining, hosting, and community written by me—and a ton of my own favorite recipes!

Right now, I’m running a year-end special! You can get a paid subscription at a 10% discount. This sale will run through the first week of the year.

Thank you for joining me in 2023. I can’t wait to see what we’ll build in 2024.