2023 was mostly quiet when it wasn’t loud. For the latter half of the year our house was under construction and being painted so it was busy and hectic and now that it’s cold everything has calmed and quieted again.
This year brought Night Circus tea from Old Growth Alchemy and announcements of new editions of books and it still amazes me that these stories get to be contained in such beautiful packages and interpreted in such magical ways.
I wrote a lot this year. I wrote backstories and sidestories. I wrote an introduction to something that has not yet been announced and I dug deeper into this book that is not a book yet. I don’t know how much of what I’ve written this year will end up in whatever this book turns out to be but I’ve excavated more of it, I’m more familiar with this place and these people now and next year will be about getting to know it all better and hopefully figuring out more of its secrets.
I realized earlier this year that each book I’ve written ends up having both a thematic piece of music (that I tend to listen to over and over and over while writing) and a motto that I keep, each on a silver ring.
The Night Circus theme is Delirium’s Aria and its motto is Esse Quam Videri.
The Starless Sea theme is borrowed from Dragon Age Inquisition and its silver-engraved motto is Know Thyself.
This year I found the piece of music that is the new book theme, and I am currently wearing a silver ring engraved with the phrase that has become its motto on my right hand. The book itself is still a mess of unfinished threads in need of weaving but it is beginning to find itself, out there in the dark.
I got back into writing with fountain pens this year which was entirely the fault of my friends Mallory O’Meara and Lauren Panepinto and their InkWitches stream on twitch. I’d had a few long-neglected pens and now I have… more and a rather obscene amount of ink in a rainbow of colors. I’ve been slowly filling notebooks with multicolored bits and pieces of the new book.
Current pens in heavy rotation are my Opus 88 Jazz, Nahvalur Horizon and Benu Talisman (all broad nibs) and I always have a couple of TWSBI Ecos kicking around. Some current favorite inks include Taccia Utamaro-Umemurasaki, Wearingeul Persephone and oh so many inks from The Birmingham Pen Company, particularly Eroded Bronze and Chrysanthemum. And for the holidays Adam gave me this gorgeous Edison Dragoness pen.
The Books Illustrated edition of The Starless Sea will be arriving next year (you can keep up with its progress by signing up for their newsletter). It has been an absolute joy watching Anne Yvonne Gilbert‘s illustrations as they’ve evolved over the past few months. They are all gorgeous and surprising but here, for New Year’s Eve have this one, because somewhere in this liminal space between years it is snowing, and somewhere within that snow there is an inn and its lanterns are lit.
Favorite Books 2023
The Sundial – Shirley Jackson
The King of Elfand’s Daughter – Lord Dunsany
The Keep – Jennifer Egan
Sleeping Giants – Rene Denfeld (March 2024)
No One Will Come Back For Us – Premee Mohamed
White Cat, Black Dog – Kelly Link
The Naming Song – Jedidiah Berry (October 2024)
The Saint of Bright Doors – Vajra Chandrasekera
Starling House – Alix E. Harrow
Black River Orchard – Chuck Wendig
This year sounded like Sigur Rós and Danse Macabre and Fleetwood Mac and lots and lots of Vitamin String Quartet. This one is not the aforementioned new book theme, but it is the opening track on the constantly evolving new book playlist that I put on every time I sit down to write, so now these opening notes feel like opening a door.
Whatever you accomplished or didn’t this year please know that it was enough just to get here to this night when one year tumbles into the next. And I hope that whatever 2024 brings there is some softness in it, and some brightness, and some wonder.