Hello and Happy New Year. 2018 was a year of community, exploration, joy, and grief. Here’s a look at what happened and what I’m looking forward to as 2019 unfolds.
2018: What Was…
Acknowledging & Embracing the “New Normal.” A large part of my day-to-day experience is hiking through the hills and valleys that accompany living with a chronic illness. I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) 14 years ago. You can read about the massive changes that occurred in 2016 when my lupus worsened to the extent that I could no longer work, here: Introductions All Around. This year I found peace with my “new normal.”
I still struggle with not being able to work as a therapist. This year, I went back to work for six months as a therapist on a web-based practice. Though the work was from home, I couldn’t maintain a part-time schedule that met my clients’ needs. My health just isn’t there. Challenging days bring fevers, fatigue, joint pain, memory challenges, and tremors. Each day is an unknown commodity and I learned the importance of marshaling my energy to create a life worth living. It meant stepping back from the vision I had been clinging to and creating new expectations for myself.
It is a bitter-sweet awakening that was made easier when I was granted disability in September 2018. The decision by the US Social Security Administration, though it took 2 1/2 years to reach, lessened the financial toll my illness has taken on me and my family. It has also allowed me to embrace a vision of my wellness journey that is kinder to myself when limitations arise.
Bringing History Alive. I made progress on my labor of love, a historical novel centering on a gay man emigrating to America in the late 1870s. This project was born as a way to explore the day-to-day lives of our queer family in the late 19th century and becomes an integral part of a small industrial community in northwestern Vermont. I’m exploring the ways in which queer people found ways to live, contribute to their communities, love, and grieve when the words we had to describe ourselves were pathologizing and demeaning. There are still so many places in the world today where being queer can lead to imprisonment and death, and yet life and love find a way to flourish.
Anne Stagg, my erotica-writing, saucy alter-ego had an amazing year. The community of independent authors is bursting with talented, thoughtful, and supportive individuals. I’ve grown as a writer and found meaning in the awareness and freedom that creating fantasy provides. There is so much shame surrounding sexuality and sexual expression, it’s thrilling to help tear down the walls of misconception.
The Mound of Gaia stories, an erotic fantasy series about a sorceress charged with protecting the passage between our world and a magical dimension, flourished. It’s available exclusively on Bellesa (be warned that’s an NSFW link). You can start your adventure with the story “The Song of Water.”
Anne Stagg was also featured in a collection of poetry, “An Exaltation of Shadows,” published by Dark Gatekeeper Gaming on Drivethrufiction.com.
Queering Time Travel (#QTT) is a reading adventure I’ve planned for 2019. Twenty-nine novels, 1 year exploring queer voices in fiction from the encoded to the explicit. I will update readers weekly about my travels through time. You can keep up with my Queering Time Travel adventure here and on Goodreads. If you want to read along, you can find a list of all the books on my Goodreads profile.
The EroticAdventure (#EroticAdventure) is Anne Stagg’s exploration of smut through the ages. The stops on this tour of twenty-six books will explore erotica from Sappho in the 7th century BCE to now. Click here to find out how to follow Anne Stagg on the 2019 EroticAdventure.
Sexual Wellness. This year I’m dedicating energy to exploring the importance of sexual wellness and its impact on our sexuality, sexual expression, and gender identity. I’m finding ways to use my social work powers for good while minding my health challenges. At the moment, I’m exploring the possibility of a regular sexual wellness advice column with a web retailer. Updates and regular posts will be available here, so stay tuned.
Fiction. Work on the historical novel will continue, along with two short fiction projects that are in the works. I’m continuing to explore themes of love and grief, sexual expression and personal history, and sexuality and freedom. Anne Stagg is planning to continue with the Mound of Gaia series and introduce an unrelated novel in the same universe. There are some short stories planned, as well.
LGBTQIA & Women’s Issues. I live in the US and the current administration’s attack on LGBTQIA and women’s civil rights is frightening. There are also the places in the world where being LGBTQIA means imprisonment or death and women are treated at best, as children, and at worst as property to be disposed of when it’s no longer “useful.” I’ll be exploring advocacy and education opportunities to forward the rights of the queer community and women throughout the year.
There’s a lot to do and less than 365 days to do it. Thanks for coming along.
Ready. Set. Go.