2014 was the year that everything changed, and 2015 has convinced me that it was all for the better.
I’ll always think fondly of 2015 because of the people it ushered into my life. I suppose it all started with Tyrell Mayfield who DM’d me in late December 2014. We’d been tweeting back and forth about Afghanistan, and all writers need editor friends. We met for drinks in a dive bar in Rosslyn and I’ll admit, riding the train home, I worried I’d made a fool of myself somehow–I still wasn’t used to people taking me professionally seriously.
That meeting led me to the monthly Cigar, Scotch, and Strategy gatherings (where I met Nate Finney). It also gave me the courage to seek out more people on my own, which led to more than a dozen other meetings with people who I met first 140 characters at a time–some were #NatSec tweeters, others Central Asia hands and journalists, and some simply just interesting people. Ty and Nate pulled me into the nascent Military Writers Guild. We’re still building it, but I’m happy to do my little part to help others move the thoughts in their heads onto the page.
Put simply: For a hermit, I sure did a lot of “networking” in 2015.
In April, I resigned from my contract at the World Bank and started full-time with The Diplomat. In addition to continuing to manage the Magazine, I took over the Crossroads Asia blog and took on editing the authors already writing there. I started writing every day and although I sometimes still have self-doubts (a mean little voice in the back of my head that says “you don’t know anything” and “your writing is total shit”) I have become more confident in what I know and what I don’t, what I do and how to work on doing it better.
In last year’s goodbye post, I listed the things I wrote. This year, that’s nearly impossible to do. By my estimation I wrote more than 300 pieces for The Diplomat in 2015, plus 12 Magazine exclusives. I also published a piece with my friends over at the Strategy Bridge.
Looking ahead, I have big plans for 2016.
Writing: I want to write more broadly, not just in terms of outlets but in subject matter. Thankfully, this effort is off to a good start already. I don’t want to say too much–in case it doesn’t work out for some bonkers reason–but look for something cool at the end of January. In 2016, I want to dig into my roots in US conflict history and write for the Strategy Bridge again. I also have a fiction project in mind that I want to make actual time for this year.
Reading: I read fewer books in 2015 than in any recent year–mostly because I stopped commuting. I’ll remedy this in 2016. I have a big enough list of books to read.
People: The best thing about 2015 was the people I met, so I want to continue to pull offline the connections I make online. I know for some it’s a bizarre concept–and possibly a scary one–but I’ve had great experiences and made some truly fantastic friends.
Places: The great tragedy of 2015 was that I didn’t really go anywhere. I worked and worked and worked and forgot to plan a vacation (aside from a rafting trip to Tennessee over the 4th of July weekend that I had no hand in planning).
In 2016, I’ll be making a trip to New York CIty in September (BECAUSE I HAVE HAMILTON TICKETS! HOLY SHIT I HAVE HAMTIX!) And I am going to plan a trip to Chicago to see family. I also want to plan a trip to Central Asia–likely Kazakhstan or Kyrgyzstan.
Goodbye 2015, hello 2016: We have serious business to get to and big dreams to make happen.