Adventuring into My Prime / Casey Prime!
Here we are: another year passed, a new decade launched, and I am in my prime.
(I’m now 31 years old and clearly still a huge nerd.)
Last year I talked about taking a step back and figuring out how to get what I want out of life without killing myself. I was ready to fully embrace embarking on and furthering the kind of adventures that matter to me.
I, uh. Went a little fuller out than I anticipated?
I started listing out the things I’ve done in the last year that might merit mentioning in my annual birthday round-up post, and. I mean, I’m always busy, because I am very bad at not doing. But I’ve apparently gotten much better very quickly at doing meaningful work, because there are way more exciting life happenings I want to talk about here.
The big thing this year that I can’t possibly not start with, given its scope and how much of my life it took this year in sheer energy not to mention time, is that I successfully planned a fantasy wedding full of dragons and achieved marriage. It was such a project, and while I’m delighted it is done with forever—hard to overstate this, truly, I am Very Done—I’m happy with the work I did and given all the same information would make those choices again.
On the story front, which I’m thrilled to be able to effectively prioritize again (honestly can’t recommend planning a wedding on your own and also trying to write books and do dayjobbery, it is a suboptimal combination of time commitments), I think this may be the first time in at least five years I haven’t finished drafting a book since my last birthday writing?
That said, I’ve still written upwards of 100,000 words on two different books*—for my non-writer friends: this is a significant number of words; pertinently, it’s well more than a book’s worth—and that DESPITE PLANNING A DANG INTRICATE WEDDING, so. I’m cutting myself a bit of slack for once in my life. The writing is occurring, I’m growing as a writer, and I’m happy with the work I’m doing: that’s what matters.
(*Passed 80k on one and 50k on the other! I’ve learned in an ideal world I shouldn’t try to write two books at the same time, but I am nevertheless writing two books at the same time in a substantial way.)
I did have a book launch, my very first! I have a short story in an anthology of fantasy chase scenes called Swift the Chase, which is particularly exciting for me because I’ve read work by literally all the other authors and honestly loved them all. (If you haven’t checked it out, it is designed to be friendly to people new to everyone’s work!)
As for the work that supports my continued ability to work on stories, the very recent adventure is that I left the traditional workforce and launched my freelance career! Since that was, uh, last week, I have little to definitively report other than that I’m excited about this as a substantial life change for myself. This falls firmly in the category of adventures that set myself up for the future I want, and I’m looking forward to exploring where this takes me.
A theme for this year all around has been my improving at both prioritizing and setting—and enforcing—boundaries. The difference that has made is in my being able to live my life attending to what I care about, to put my time and energy into what matters most to me.
There are so many other projects I’ve touched this year that are firmly trending toward that future. My final project at the bookstore was a culminating event on so much of what I’d worked toward during my time there, an inclusive panel with romance writers talking about reclaiming history that our community loved and that even got a write-up in the newspaper.
Because outside of all that, I’ve done work I’m proud of, and care about. Earlier this year my essay “Women Are Already Powerful: The Problem of Privileging Masculine Modes of Power in Fantasy” was published, and getting to dive into analyzing the relationship between gender, power, fantasy, and storytelling in a big way is, like. A Lot of what I’m passionate about, so that’s me maximally #backonmybullshit and loving it.
It’s always validating when other people also think I have important insights to contribute, and Sirens Conference, which I have so much respect for, is bringing me on as faculty next year to do just that. I’ve done programming there before—including this year!—and got a taste of running a workshop stepping up this year at the last-minute to fill in after a cancellation, but it’s different to craft a long-form program in advance, and to be confident I’m delivering an experience that will fundamentally change people’s understanding. Teaching in this field has always been an aspiration of mine, and I could not have been more thrilled by this invitation. I’m already plotting.
Bringing my ideas to bear to craft experiences has been something of a theme this year. At 4th Street Fantasy, I’ve officially taken over programming. This was the first year I was largely responsible for that core of the conference even though I wasn’t in charge, and I’m excited to buckle in and work on shaping ways for us to explore ideas pushing genre and writing boundaries in exciting ways. I learned a lot this year, and there’s only, always, more to come.
And of course, there’s the annual birthday adventure! Last year I thought I was going to switch from flying to travel adventures, but I decided to do this a differently. There are always things—activities, experiences—I’ve been meaning to try that are just never enough of a priority for me to get around to. That’s part of how I got started with skydiving!
So instead for my birthday every year I’m going to give this gift to myself: trying something new, something that I’m excited about. A regular reminder, no matter what else is or isn’t happening in my life, to make my life adventurous; that life can always be an adventure.
This year? I tried out a capoeira class.
Somewhat to my surprise—I thought it might be a good fit for me, that’s part of why I’d wanted to try!—I really loved it, way more than I anticipated. Even starting from nothing, it felt fundamentally right from the start. So suddenly now I’m working on making this particular adventure a regular part of my life. (No picture this year, sorry. I have some videos, but I’m not sharing. =P)
Adventure abounds, and this decade has opened with them all around! My life this past year has been more fulfilling than at any time I can remember: both more focused but also filling into all the areas of my life I want to spend more time in: essays and teaching, building inclusive communities, seeing and valuing the people in my life and myself included, writing the stories that matter to me, and always learning and growing and becoming more myself.
I’m spending my life doing the work I care about, be it professional or personal or somewhere in between. And that will always be its own adventure.
I’m flying inexorably toward the future I want for myself, and I can’t wait to see what route I take next year.