This Has Been a Good Year

At the beginning of the year, nothing was going right in my life, both career and personal. I was really broke, for one thing. As the year ends, still not many things are going right for me. One of my biggest dreams came tumbling down, started to collapse with the beginning of the year, and by November it had crashed to the ground. It came like a shooting star, like a lone star among the millions, and went out before it had lived to fulfill it's purpose in my life. It reminded me of Gene Hackman, who once was one of my heroes, I can't remember where I heard or read this line from him, but it stuck to my head, and for much of the year it kept ringing in my skull. 'I've always been a lone wolf.' I believe that now about me.
Can you believe that smile is from a lone wolf?

But hey, the title of this post says 'this has been a good year', and I did set out to write the one thing that went absolutely write for me. It's the only dream I have ever had, the only thing I have ever loved, the only thing that kept me going, and still keeps me going, in the darkest hours. It's the only thing I live for. Telling stories.

Okay, that's a bit of a cliche statement. It's not really that I live for it, that I have a passion for it. It's just something that I do because I have nothing else to do, because I don't know what else to do, because I can't do anything else. It's kind of like a curse. I've said that already many times before, not a passion. But its the only thing that can hold my hand in the dark and whisper in my ears, 'Don't worry Dilman, everything will be alright.'


And ever since I was about fifteen, when I discovered that it's the one candle that will never go out in my life, I've longed for recognition of some kind. For something that will put me on the literary map. It finally happened for me this year, when I got shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. It opened a door I've been knocking on since I was born.

The Smiling Machine
As a result of it, the San Diego State University included one of my short stories, Homecoming, in it's syllabus, at least for a semester. I remember reading the email three times without understanding what they were asking me. 'We need your permission to make copies of your story, as part of an academic course reader for use in the upcoming semester...' All the while I was thinking of the mighty dead we were compelled to read at school, the likes of Shakespeare and Hardy, and I was thinking, some kids are going to have to study my work to pass exams? If I needed an indicator that all these years of hard work are finally starting to pay off, this was it.

And then the agents came knocking. Or rather sniffing around, like dogs that suspect there is a bone somewhere. Normally, it's the writer who has to go begging agents to look at his work, but for the first time I got emails from agents, asking for any novel I have written. I can't say much more about this at the moment, for I have yet to polish the novel I'm writing, and give it to them first. One already didn't like it, but it's only a matter of time before one of them likes it. And then.......
Dance dance dance
Garlanded with victory. Smile, smile, smile
To crown off the year, I got an email from a publisher, asking me to write a short story for an anthology they are hoping to release in January of 2014. Again, it's always the writer who goes begging publisher's for a chance to have his name in print, but this time round, it's the publisher who came to me. Another great indicator! And while the agent thing is taking long, and maybe another year before one finally says yes to me, this short story thing happened quickly. I wrote the tale they wanted, and they were impressed. Come January, and my first Afro sci-fi, set in a futuristic Africa, will be in print! Yay! Be sure to get your copy.

Whew, surprising how just one event suddenly turns my life around. Before the Commonwealth Shortlist, I was a struggling writer, struggling for attention, struggling to continue writing in the face of a pile of rejection slips, struggling to hold on to a dream (or rather curse) that has pestered me for more than twenty years now. I was wondering why the heck I'm bothering and seeing no fruits of it. I should have been world famous by now, if ever I was to make it. I was in that state, that miasma, nearly giving up, when I got the nod. And overnight, I was writing more than I've ever written in my life! In the span of six months, I had one romance novella published, Cranes Crest at Sunset, one novelette came out, The Terminal Move, one new short story in an anthology, The Broken Pot, another (the Afro sci-fi above) accepted for another anthology, yet another reprinted in the African Roar Anthology, The Puppets of Maramudhu - whew.

And I have to include the seven episodes of a sitcom that I wrote, the short film that I wrote and directed, the radio play I wrote, the adaption of an African folk tale into a stage play, the two short stories that I wrote from scratch -- works that are yet to find a home, but I look at all this and I know it has been a very good year for me.

I'm sad it has come to an end, but I do know 2014 will be the year I finally make it!

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