So draws to an end another year. I can look back at 2022 as one filled with peaks and valleys. One filled with a lot of promise that delivered and also stocked with a lot of grief, angst and exhaustion.
I’ll choose to give reverence but not dwell upon the negatives such as the passing of loved ones, the loss of employment and comrades I truly loved (albeit my layoff was a mere blink), my fiancée’s cancer scare and the heartache of betrayal. Fatherhood demands (and it did, boy did it) the utmost priority even when nurturing a relatively new romance and you bring it all together under pressure. The teenage years can suck it, point blank, and I’m no different from any parent fielding the fails and fallacies that come within. The victories are few, the frustration twofold. As Kurt Vonnegut wisely waxes, so it goes. We’re forced to adapt and find the resiliency to respond as parents must.
On the flipside, I’m very blessed to have had exuberance, triumphs, forward motion, physical and spiritual growth and above all, expanding my networks to twice they were prior to 2022. I’ve said it before in my videos where I sought to pump up other job-seekers, your network says everything about you. It’s paid off for me this year in the scores of people who rallied to my cause during my brief layoff. You all have my return love and loyalty.
Despite the ongoing trials in our lives since September, this will be a year I’ll look back upon with pride with the release of my short story collection, Coming of Rage, the title story drawing a nomination for this year’s Pushcart Prize. I wrote the stories in my old apartment after my separation and divorce, a couple months before TJ, an old friend from many pasts, came back into my life like a tempest of love. I wrote most of the stories on a butt-breaking bar stool at a breakfast nook in that apartment, feeling the momentary isolation and uncertainty of my life’s direction. Some were written on the weeks I had my son, getting up at 4:30 a.m. many days before he woke to write and polish these stories. The satisfaction I feel from Coming of Rage’s launch is something I’ve held onto like a good luck locket. I’m even prouder my publisher, Raw Earth Ink, has asked for a sequel story collection, which I am nearly finished writing for 2023 publication.
2022 brought me the opportunity to meet many writers throughout the year, at the Star Trek and sci-fi-themed convention, Shore Leave, for one. It came here at WordPress, meeting so many of you and getting to know you off the grid. I was able to build an audience here and though my past few months have been less than prolific due to a tumble effect of life events, I feel optimistic in the growth this page has made. Granted, my posts lately have been more off-topic to the theme of roads lesser traveled, but travel has been limited due to the aforementioned changes and hurdles. I appreciate all of you for sticking with me, as I do the people who gave me glowing reviews of Coming of Rage. A special shout-out to Willow Croft, who conducted not one, but two interviews with me in ’22. It’s been a pleasure kindling a friendship with you, lady.
My fiancée, TJ and I had a wonderful trip to Disney for just ourselves this year and a long weekend beach trip with the kiddo, but moving in together and preparing for our future wedding in the fall of ’23 took precedence. Our time out was spent more in the company of friends and family all of 2022 and building our respective networks in the creative and esoteric communities. TJ not only kicked cancer’s behind this year, but she had a number of book signings for The Healthy Witch and Four Little Witches. I’m happy to report I will likewise be on the promotional trail in the new year for Coming of Rage and its eventual sequel, Turning the Page.
I look to get myself back in the groove in 2023, here at Roads Lesser Traveled, along with my other writing endeavors while refining my duties in my new position in mortgage title. The juggle and the struggle is real, but we have a wedding to look forward to and new projects to complete and hawk out there. TJ will have an oracle card set based on The Healthy Witch come out this spring. The time has come for both of us to kick our lives as a couple and as individual writers up to the next level.
This includes the addition of two new kittens to our family, Ezio and MJ. They were brought to us from a litter by TJ’s son and they have sparked a spirit of joy in our household. These adorable fuzzbutts have been with us since they were two months old and have already bonded with all of us. Bast be praised.
2022, thank you for all that was good. Thank you also for the hard parts; it forces me to keep evolving. I ran a Spartan Trail race and competed in my first DEKA event, the latter proving you can train your tail off and still have your butt handed to you. It’s sobering and oddly uplifting, as it sparks that fire inside me to have another go at DEKA and whatever else my body will give me, fitness-wise in ’23. My motto, especially for my videos at TikTok, has been “Keep grindin’.”
Much love to all the people I spent time and grew with this year, many for the first time, others reunited after decades past between us. It’s refreshing knowing people can just pick right back up after long runs of time. May the new year bring even more of my friends whom I’ve inadvertently neglected to the table along with brand new faces. As I mentioned, my network doubled this past year and I look forward to adding more this one upcoming.
Whatever it is that drives you, my friends, go forward in 2023 and beyond and capture it for yourself. I’ve captured the love of my life. I’ve captured a new audience after losing all but handfuls of my prior readership in music and horror journalism. I’ve reinvented myself and every step is slow, if adventurous. Fear is the enemy to your own progress. Go forward and conquer. Thank you for reading, as always…
–Ray Van Horn, Jr.