New Year, Grudgingly New Me.
So, here I am, writing under my new Batman pen name. It's fine, I guess. On the plus side, I can freely curse on the internet and I don't have to worry about my bosses finding out I've written stories involving werewolf bestiality anymore.
On the other hand, I started writing seriously and building an audience in 2018. Editors have been really generous about allowing me to retroactively change my name on pieces published online, but it's still a loss. My first publication credits were print only, and they meant a lot to me. I've been in a few anthologies with pieces I'm really proud of, and I guess those are just going to fade into the background, at least for the moment.
But, it was necessary. I'm past the point in my writing career where I expect to be able to quit my day job any time soon, if ever (oh, to go back to that messy never-finished first novel, where I truly believed I was on the verge of a big—and I mean job-quitting big—break and before I'd ever sent a query to a literary agent, let alone 96, or woken up to a multiple rejection bloodbath in my inbox). So I'm not quitting my job any time soon, and I need an income. But my profession is very public, and very much under fire where I live. The hard truth is that I can't have my cake (job) and eat it too (write whatever I want) right now.
So, here I am, trying to figure out exactly who A.V. Greene is. I've already decided she is good—a much better, more prolific, and more consistent writer than I ever was. I hope she's less insecure and better at navigating online spaces. I'd like for her to be confident, slyly funny, and, you know, universally loved and admired. But I'm going to have to put her out there to see if she sinks or swims and if I can pull this off.
I mean, Jesus, is this even healthy for me to split off into two completely separate people like this?
Oh well, here we are and I guess we'll find out.
Since you're here, let me please introduce myself. Here are some stories I've written that I'm particularly proud of and were published in venues where I could get away with the name change:
Highway Hypnosis (Uncharted)
Haustoria (Grim and Gilded)
The Haunting of Mile Marker 73 (MoonPark Review)
Revelation 12:4 (Nurture)
I'm struggling to find a writing routine that works, but I'm also a working parent of a kindergartener, so that's probably not going to be a puzzle I put together any time soon. I do have my first 2023 story out on sub right now, and I'm pleased to report that it is definitely salacious enough to make the pen name decision feel very justified.
I just finished Brian Asman's delightful horror novella Man, Fuck This House, and Sarah Gailey's Magic for Liars. They, Alix Harrow and T. Kingfisher have been my pandemic-era trinity of comfort reads, and Magic for Liars did not disappoint. Today I started Nettle and Bone (Kingfisher) in print and Future Feeling by Joss Lake in audio.
Future Feeling is wonderful so far. It's surreal, funny, and oddly beautiful. It's my first official read of the 2023 Read Harder Challenge from Book Riot. I've done Read Harder since 2017, finished it every year, and damned if I'm going to stop now. Yes, I've had moments of pure slog in it, but I've also read a lot of books I never would have touched, finally learned how to actually enjoy a romance novel without all of the internalized misogyny baggage I apparently was carrying around regarding the genre, read every damn page of Ulysses, and learned things about Greenland, cypress trees, fossils, international funerary practices, Himalayan mountain climbing, and arson litigation I might not have come across otherwise.
I'm hoping for a better reading year than I had last year. I started strong, but around July, things at work got incredibly intense, and I found myself in a pretty deep reading slump. Here's to a better 2023, though.
We're halfway through Season 1 of Servant. It's weird and anxious, and I'm weird and anxious, so I've been enjoying it so far, even if it's got two of the most despicable male leads I've ever met. We're cutting that with Abbott Elementary, which is such a wistful comfort show while watching helplessly as an increasingly organized christofascist cult take dead aim at public education in real life, and Los Espookys, which is silly and fun while also affording me some Spanish practice so it feels Worthy of My Time while also being a pure pleasure.
[It's not worth its own heading tag, but I came in first in the Duolingo Diamond League over the holiday. I haven't fought that hard for a phone game win in my entire life, and goddamn it I will seek recognition for it.]
I don't know, reader. I'm doing my best and I'm sure you are too. It's scary out there, and I'm terrified for my LGTBQ+ neighbors and friends. I've somehow managed to get the Twitter algorithm on my Bruce Wayne account convinced that it should serve me a diet consisting solely of gun violence reports, book-banning news, and climate change doom pieces. As we all know, the future is entirely dependent upon me being able to hold all of these things in my heart and worry as hard as I possibly can about all of them, all the time. Don't worry, though, I'm definitely doing that, so everything should be fine.
Related: I got a therapist! Go to therapy, it's great! If you are a therapist, don't have me as a client! I'm exhausting!
Another actually helpful thing I've done for myself is set time limits on social media. The first time Twitter grayed itself out on my home screen, my reaction wasn't disappointment. Instead, it was more like, "oh thank god I don't have to look at it anymore today." So yeah, work those screen time settings.
But at the same time, life still happens, and it's not all MAGA doom. My child came home spouting a very accurate and unflinching account of Dr. Martin Luther King's life, work, and assassination, so shoutout to the kindergarten teachers who are not going to kowtow to fascism. I work with the public and, sure, there are daily eye roll situations and vaguely threatening emails involved with that, but there are also many more people who take a minute to make a joke or a pleasantry or a kind remark and be a temporary transient ally as we all hurtle around the sun toward our unknowable destinies together.
Too much? Eh, fuck it, it's not like this is my real name anyway.