3 Years of Lola By The Bay/2016 Year in Review

Another year has come and gone, both in terms of the ongoing lifespan on this blog and the Gregorian calendar. Naturally I’ve changed the appearance of the blog once more, giving it a fresh look after such a year as this. Three days ago marked three years since the establishment of this blog; and so on this last day of 2016, I honor that, as well as the events and writings of the past eleven months, with my annual year in review.

If you recall from last year’s recap post, 2015 was a bittersweet year for me. Along with the struggles that came post-undergrad, I had also lost two family friends.

2015 was a personally crappy year; whereas this year in which, in the beginning, I had desperately looked forward to, became a crappy year for all. From the refugee crisis in Syria, to unarmed Black men still being gunned down by police, to the more than usual celebrity deaths (RIP Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds), and, of course, the election of Donald Trump for president; it’s a year we’d all wish had never happened. Perhaps the sad part about it is a number of these occurrences could have been prevented, if only we didn’t have so many stupid people in this world (yes, at this point, I’m calling it out as it is).

Despite these events that made up the dumpster fire of 2016, I still made the best of the writing that I had done and put out this year; for this blog, for other outlets, and for my second novel, An Absolute Mind. Allow to run through it all now:

This year saw the addition of starting to do listicles every now and then on this blog. I notice how popular they are, especially in the generation of Buzzfeed, and so I wanted to see what kind of topical topics I can tackle using this format. While some have been more directed for readers to benefit from (such as ways to fill up a blank book and unfrequented TV and film female characters of this century), others have been more for breaking down my own thoughts and opinions (such as things I want to do as an author and things about An Absolute Mind I’m most proud of). I aim to continue doing these listicle posts in the coming year.

A new category was added to my blog this year: Recommended Analyzing. These posts offer material – such as a quote, an article to read, a video to watch, or a podcast to listen – to gain insight from and to digest from there. They’re all content that I personally like and that I feel that others may benefit from being exposed to as well. While traditionally these posts were done when my mind was numbed up in the aftermath of a shocking event, I’ve since started to make an effort to do these posts more regularly. Throughout this year, I’ve recommended readers to watch the scene from “Romeo + Juliet” where that church choir is covering Prince’s “When Doves Cry,” read pieces I had done about An Absolute Mind prior to its release, and listen to an episode of the Bruce Lee Podcast that explores his fondness for poetry. I also aim to do more of these posts in the new year.

With all the crazy headlines throughout the year, it makes sense that another new category was added: From the News. Depending on what news I’m analyzing, I’ll breaking it down, before offering my input on it and tie it back to the powerful – yet underrated – act of storytelling. At times, the news may be relevant enough already in the context of writing and storytelling; such as the ones about robots taking part in a writing contest in Japan and why a poem about Chinese food that The New Yorker published was all shades of problematic. Other times, it may have nothing to do with writing and storytelling, and yet I’m able to make a connection anyway; such as how both the aftermath of both the Orlando shooting and the presidential election are circumstantially relevant to what happens in An Absolute Mind. It should be no surprise that these posts are to be continued as well.

In continuation with what I started last year, I dedicated posts to topics regarding the storytelling process and the act of storytelling in general. This has led to posts about thinking like a filmmaker, being emotionally invested in a story, the celebration of storytelling at San Diego Comic-Con, and on embracing writing as part of the arts.

Of course, there were posts dedicated to An Absolute Mind (as it’s been mentioned already just within the last few paragraphs). This was the year of its release. While it came out much later than I would have originally liked, it’s still a feat that’s worthy of being celebrated. August saw the final update regarding the making of the novel, where it made one thing clear: The release is really close. September is when I started hyping up its upcoming release with the announcement of the title, the plot, and the release date. However, as the date drew closer, the political atmosphere started to echo similar tunes the novel carries in its themes. These circumstances became even more poignant following the presidential election, where I became consciously aware of just what kind of novel I’d be releasing; a novel that was written pre-election, but released post-election (and by post-election, I mean it was released exactly a week after the election).

As happy as I was to release An Absolute Mind out into the world, this new reality made the celebration a little bittersweet. However, it’s because of these circumstances (as well as the fact that I released the novel fairly late in the year) that I aim to promote my second novel as much as possible in 2017. I honestly feel that people will benefit from reading it during these uncertain times. So naturally, while this is the last you hear of An Absolute Mind for the year, I’m not going to stop talking about it. (In fact, this February, just like what I did for A Moment’s Worth, I’ll be doing a series of posts on the making of An Absolute Mind.)

Beyond my blog and my book, I’ve really broadened my scope and started having writing appear on other websites and outlets as well. I had two pieces published in Entropy Magazine, and I became a regular contributor to Multiracial Media and YOMYOMF. This has really strengthened my abilities in tackling new and different subject matter as a writer, as well as reaching new audiences. I’m putting my voice out there more and am making it exciting it for myself. Through that, I am reaching new heights, which is always a good thing.

So in terms of my year in writing, it actually turned out to be a pretty good one. I’ve truly done a lot of writing, and through that, I’ve grown. That is to be expected when you push yourself like that in a medium that is also your calling, and I feel that I have truly benefited from that.

This realization and look back is wonderful as I look ahead at my writing goals for 2017. I shall be continuing my writing on the subject matters that I had started up on my blog this year; for I believe that they are prevalent enough and needed in the collection of subject matter I present here. I also will continue my writing beyond this blog and on the other outlets, for I really want to continue putting my voice out there through the other subject matter I devote myself to. As I had mentioned earlier this month, I am making an effort to do more creative collaborations in the coming year, and I will be getting to work on crafting my third novel. This will, of course, be all the while I continue promoting An Absolute Mind.

This is the part where I direct my attention to the readers of this blog. What do you want to do more of, and what should I cut back on? Already, I have the intention to bring back the occasional analyses on different films and TV shows, for I only did one this year. Is there anything else you want me to write about? Is there any topical subject matter that I haven’t touched on yet? With nearly 200 followers of this blog, there’s no excuse for me to not at least get a little bit of feedback. Help me out and offer me your thoughts!

Amidst this year being nothing more than a dumpster fire, I can’t deny the progressive made on this blog and then some. While I am really uncertain of what 2017 is going to be like, I hope it will be somewhat better than this year, despite the upcoming inauguration. What you can expect, of course, is that there will always be more to come.

Thanks to everyone who has been reading! 2016… go bury yourself in a hole!

Source: Giphy
Source: Giphy

An Absolute Mind is now available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & NobleCreateSpace, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, etc. If you read it, please leave a review, for they’re greatly appreciated and help me grow as a writer. Also, be sure to check out its Goodreads page, and feel free to leave any questions you have about the book.

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