I haven't written any substantive updates on what I've been up to for a while, mostly because I've been too wrapped up in events to find the time to write about them. However, I think now is a good time to make an update.
Zoey Hoshi flew in to visit and live with me for a little over a month, starting in late October. There has been what I assume to be somewhat poorly-kept secret (if even that ... more like "everyone probably knows, I just haven't actually announced it") regarding the two of us, that I unfortunately wasn't able to announce for a while due to lingering drama. That has slowly been fading over time, and I have gradually been able to let more and more people know. Today, I just confirmed that the last piece getting in the way of an official announcement has fallen, so I'd like to come out and proclaim what I'm pretty sure everyone either already knew or at least strongly suspected: yes, Zoey and I are together, a couple, very much in love, and have been for some time. November 1 was our one-year anniversary, even, and that was part of the reason why she came to visit me now, of all times--of course we had to be together for that. I seem to have entered the fun and exciting world of long-distance relationships, and this visit was mostly a chance to live with my girlfriend for at least a little while.
One of the first things Zoey and I did together was immediately fly off again, this time to Furpocalypse over Halloween. It was Zoey's first furry convention, and all our friends who were with us (you know who you are at this point) gave her a warm welcome. I got to host a writing panel, and was pleasantly surprised at the attendance and attentiveness it received. There were actual people there and they were interested in what I had to teach about writing. Some were even taking notes!
Toward the end of the panel, I segued into a speech about art and creation in general, and mostly tried to encourage anyone who had ever had an idea and been dumped on for just the genre of it, let alone actual content ("oh, furry novels will never sell" "oh, you'll never get anywhere if you draw manga style" etc.) I will admit an ulterior motive, here: part of that speech was for Zoey, who is tentatively working on becoming more active in furry art circles and perhaps even taking commissions someday. She had received some rather disparaging "advice" from a tour of a local animation studio, which had caused some damage that I wanted to undo. Zoey reports being more confident than ever that yes, she actually can do this, so I'd like to think I helped at least a little ... though it really was a team effort from the love and support she received from everyone, during her entire visit.
Speaking of writing, yes, I'm still doing that! I am still working on a huge overhaul of The Afflicted, with the hope of getting it through a traditional publisher someday. My aunt (who is a very successful published author with zillions of books to her name) is absolutely in love with the characters and world and everything I've created, and wants to put me in touch with her agent ... after this overhaul. It's big and a lot of work and I don't expect to be done with it for at least another year, if even by then, but we'll see. Making it as a writer is my "what I want to be when I grow up" dream, of course, so this is a hugely promising lead, no matter how long it takes.
However, I have had to put that project aside due to the sudden presence of another chance at publication. A certain furry BSDM anthology wanted me to contribute a story to their next upcoming project. I can't get into too many details, because A) some of my readers/watchers/followers are young and innocent and don't want to hear about this very fetishy adult NSFW project, and B) it's for an anthology, not just something I can post freely when it's done. However, I promise you, those of you who are actually into that sort of thing will definitely know more, and know where you can get it and everything, when the time comes. For now, suffice it to say that I am hugely excited about this. I am actually very proud of the story I made, and my test readers thus far have reported liking it as well. Maybe I just needed a break from The Afflicted, but I've been hugely motivated for this story all the way from inception to completion; I love the idea I had, I loved working on it, I love how it turned out. If the reading populace at large enjoys the finished product even half as much as I enjoyed making it, then this anthology is going to be awesome.
Anyway, back to convention talk! Unfortunately, I will not be able to make Furpocalypse next year, as my sister is getting married, and chose that exact day next year to hold her wedding. I have been in talks with a few of the usual circle regarding what we could do instead, only to run into all sorts of issues attempting to navigate the Venn diagrams of everyone's restrictions on where geographically they can and cannot travel, when in the year is or is not a good time, and how big or small a convention must or cannot be for comfort. The biggest issue on my end is that I really can't do anything that takes place in a month that isn't October, November, or maybe December. With Furpocalypse ruled out, the only viable alternative I've found thus far is Midwest FurFest, in Chicago, with a size of 3,000 or so and a date of late November/early December (it apparently tends to wander a bit.) Everyone else, feel free to join in the discussion--perhaps we can work something out.
Back to some more good news: my long nightmare of a work situation finally appears to be ending. The biggest problem up until this point hasn't been the job itself so much as my tyrannical bully of a manager. Well, he's gone; he got an offer at some other company and jumped ship, leaving the warehouse to me. I am now the Shipping and Receiving Manager for my company! Right now, the job is still stressful, but only because of the transition; I am literally all alone in what used to be a two-person department, having to do all the incoming orders myself when I used to have at least a little help for that, and even my order-processing time is constantly being taken by the sudden onslaught of managerial things I now have to do--meeting with people and ordering things and organizing reports and basically doing everything in the world except all that actual shipping that still really does need to get done, too. However, the end is in sight for that, as well: the company is hiring on a new clerk to fill my old position now that I'm the manager, and tomorrow (Monday) I will be interviewing and hopefully selecting the lucky winner between the final two resumes I liked. On one hand, that's another thing I'll be doing instead of processing all those orders that keep piling up, but on the other ... with any luck, it's a sign that the end of the storm is in sight. Whoever we end up hiring is going to have to help me with a huge backlog starting day 1, but still. The days of living in fear of my boss, dreading coming to work if he was feeling particularly aggressive that day, and coming home in tears when he pushed me too hard are over. The department will still be two people trying their best to keep up with the world, but I will no longer have to fear my coworker; the new person will be under me, and--dare I hope?--actually somewhat pleasant to be around (after what I've been through, this will be a huge part of my selection criteria when I conduct those interviews.)
Zoey just left back to Australia earlier today, and I should get to bed at least fairly soon tonight after my laundry finishes; I have interviewing on top of tons and tons of orders to do tomorrow. Still, I feel better now, going forward. The stay with Zoey was a huge success (as evidenced by how many tears were shed when she had to leave) and we're already looking forward to the next time we get to do this. Writing is, as always, a long and arduous labor but with a very sweet reward when it's all done. Work is chaotic but should be in a much better place once the dust settles. All in all, I would say that this was the best month in my life, but I can't be too sad that it's over, because I expect that record to be broken several times in the days to come.