T-Minus 4 Hours – Raven Oak

T-Minus 4 Hours

T-Minus 4 Hours until the clocks roll around and it’s midnight here in the greater Seattle area, meaning it will officially be 2024 (at least that was how long when I began this post… now it’s more like 3 hours). 

Some years, I love looking back at everything I’ve accomplished and everything good that happened…. And then there are years like 2023 where I sigh and try not to cry with the state of the world and my place in it.

I feel like I should at least try and recall the pluses to this year, though they seem so unimportant in the grand scheme of things. So many anti-trans laws on the books, COVID running rampant, and then there’s the Israel & Palestinian genocide. I’m just not feeling as excited about a new year, especially an election year in the United States. I truly hope 2024 surprises me (in a good way), but here’s what all I managed:

2023 in Review: Professional

  • Sold two short stories to anthologies (one out, one upcoming)
  • Collaborated on a short story with Jennifer Brozek, which we’re shopping for publication
  • Wrote 12 new short stories
  • Dragon Springs & Other Things: A Short Story Collection Book I cover art featuring a face filled with a dragon, magic, and gearsReleased two short story collections: Dragon Springs & Other Things and Space Ships & Other Tripswhich included me doing the cover art
  • Created a story & art collection entitled The Bell Ringer & Other Holiday Taleswhich included two new stories & over 30 new art pieces
  • Ran & fulfilled my first full Kickstarter (for the above project), which funded in just over an hour
  • Participated in my first professional art show
  • Attended my first convention since this pandemic began (GeekGirlCon), where I sold books, original art, and art prints
  • Got closer to finishing four novels which are slated for 2024 release, which included figuring out how to get back into longer form writing while still dealing with long-COVID
  • Committed to showing up at least 3x a week to a daily writing zoom to help keep myself accountable
  • Was approved for my first and second BookBub special (big deal in the publishing world)
  • Got positive major lit. magazine reviews for my short story collections
  • Painted so much art. So. Much.


  • Space Ships & Other Trips: A Short Story Collection Book II cover featuring a face in space filled with a female astronaut, an intelligent cat, and a space shipFigured out how to better balance my time when dealing with long-COVID symptoms and how to break up my creativity in a way that allows my body better time to rest and heal when needed
  • Tried my damndest to educate more people on COVID and why what we’re being told to do by our government is mostly wrong
  • Cheered on my partner as she came out as trans
  • Learned to forgive myself when low spoon days means I don’t accomplish as much as I’d like or anything at all (this was a hard one)
  • Learned to stop creating with other people’s expectations in mind and focus instead on what my disabled, long-COVID self can realistically do
  • Crocheted 6 scarves in 1 week as holiday gifts, while learning a whole bunch of new stitches

I managed to do all of this while dealing with my partner being laid off, DiNozzo’s cancer causing him liver and kidney issues, Malley dealing with a major unidentified illness (he goes in for surgery on Jan. 3rd to hopefully figure it out), Malley severing his knee & getting major surgery (followed by 8 weeks crate rest & cone-of-shame time), getting COVID for a second time (which worsened my long COVID), watching friends I trusted to be safe in regards to COVID decide they were tired of COVID safety so now I don’t have any friends safe enough to hang with, and of course, the political mess that is the upcoming election. I also lost several friends, two to COVID-related issues (and almost a 3rd), and many of my friends lost furry friends this year–some of them kitties I knew well enough to also miss.

This was a rough, rough year.

A stack of The Bell Ringer & Other Holiday Tales special edition hardbacks, awaiting my signature. There is also a T-Rex in the background.Sometimes I think these posts are necessary for me to put things in perspective. As rough as it’s been, when I look at the top part of this post, I’m a little shocked. I didn’t think I’d done much this year at all. It felt like the longest and yet shortest year, full of grief and fatigue. But that list tells me that despite everything going on, I’m still managing to create. I’m managing to do more than just survive (though surviving is important too). Sometimes it doesn’t feel like much, but it’s more than I think.

Anyway, this post is mostly for me to look back on during those struggling moments so I know that life continues and that continue. It’s a difficult thing to remember when most of the world finds you expendable.

I hate New Years’ Resolutions because most people don’t keep them. Most also set unrealistic resolutions too. I prefer goals, of which, for 2024, mine are:

  • Author and artist Raven Oak, sporting blue & purple hair and bright blue glasses.Keep making good art (be it writing, painting, etc.)
  • Finish at least 3 of the 4 novels that are so close to done I can taste it. Bonus if I can finish more than that.
  • Do more organizational stuff around the house
  • Help support my partner as she transitions into her true self
  • Participate in another art show (confirmed)
  • Learn to let go of negativity more
  • Learn to live with the possibility that I may not be able to game with friends or attend conventions again for a very long time with COVID being what it is and me being high risk. This one is really hard, but I need to try to work on this more, at least for my own sanity
  • Sell at least one more short work to a pro-market
  • Fix my art store to be easier to use in selling my artwork

Wherever you are, know that I see you, you are cared about, and I genuinely hope you have a good 2024. May it bring you what you need as well as what you want.

Happy New Year.

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