Birthday egotism, 2009 edition.

There’s a tradition in my life I failed to uphold last year, because the moving truck had just shown up in California with our belongings, but I think the decision to skip it was a mistake.

See, there are some things I’m very good at — like being self-critical. Veryvery good at that one. Possibly too good. I’m not so very good at enjoying my own accomplishments without constantly dwelling on “but it didn’t turn out quite as well as I hoped” or “okay, I’ve done A, but not B, C, and D.”

Some years ago I found myself having kind of a crummy birthday, the sort where you dwell morosely on another year gone by without much to show for it. To counteract that gloom, I wrote up an LJ post listing every skill and accomplishment I possessed — and I forbade myself to qualify or belittle or play down any of them. Only good stuff, with nary a negative word. I made myself shove my ego into the spotlight, because sometimes, that’s really what your psyche needs.

I’ve done that every birthday since, except last year. So here’s what I’ve done in the last two years, that I can be proud of.

I’m twenty-nine years old today, and what do I have to show for it?

I got married. To a wonderful man who didn’t mind planning half or more of our wedding, and who after all this time still sometimes bakes me brownies or brings home flowers because he thinks I need a bit of cheering up. He is goofy and kind and smart and amazing, and he is the bedrock of happiness in my life.

I’ve written two novels and most of a third, and achieved a two-book contract to continue a series I love; I’ve seen two books of that series on the shelves of stores and in the review pages of magazines. I’ve also written five short stories and a novella, that latter being my first experiment in web publishing. Over six hundred people have downloaded it. I’ve sold thirteen short stories and seen thirteen appear in print. I’ve sold audio reprint rights for four stories and seen (heard) three go live. I’ve recorded an audio reading for one podcast, and done voice work for a second. I’ve held my first bookstore event. I’ve gotten Honorable Mentions in two Year’s Best anthologies.

I’ve traveled a bunch: to London twice, for research, to Las Vegas for my mini-honeymoon (where I saw Cirque du Soleil and Penn & Teller, both awesome), and then all over the Mediterranean for my mega-honeymoon, including Greece, Turkey, and omg I finally went to Italy. I saw Pompeii. Which was kind of a pilgrimage for me. I’ve done two-thirds or so of a cross-country drive, from Indiana to California. (I’ve packed up the worldly possessions of me and my pack-rat husband and shipped them off to California where I unpacked them again, and if you don’t think that’s an accomplishment, you can come do it for me next time. <sticks tongue out>) I’ve made plans to go to India in October. I’ve gone to, oh, six or seven cons? Something like that. With many wonderful panels, sometimes alongside authors that are like unto gods to me, boggling over the fact that I’m a professional like they are. I’ve finally gone to Yosemite National Park, after realizing it’s in my backyard, assuming a backyard it takes hours to drive across.

I’ve learned a metric crap-ton about English history. I’ve started studying Japanese again. I’ve begun karate training, advancing four belts in a bit less than a year (up to orange with a black stripe), and gone back to fencing a little. I’ve learned to cook a broader array of meals that involve actual cooking. I’ve played in lots of fun games, both tabletop and LARP; I’ve made costumes and soundtracks and other fun stuff for them. I taught a course on creative writing in science fiction, fantasy, and speculative horror, and it was hands-down the most rewarding teaching experience of my life, one that I think may have a lasting benefit for at least a couple of my students.

I’ve refused to let myself feel this list should be longer.

That’s everything I can remember at the moment. Now I’m going to get dressed and go find myself a nice lunch — no way in hell am I eating leftovers today — and then I will spend the rest of the afternoon doing Things I Like, because I have officially declared today a day off work.

To borrow a phrase from mrissa, happy my birthday to all of you. It would please me very much if you all went and did something you enjoy today, because September 1st is a good day for enjoyable things.

0 Responses to “Birthday egotism, 2009 edition.”

  1. leatherdykeuk

    How super your achievements!
    Happy birthday!

  2. amysun

    Happy birthday!

    What a perfect birthday tradition. Congrats on everything you have accomplished and for everything you have experienced, which has gone into making you who you are today, right this minute. 🙂

    Also, we’re totally celebrating on Thursday. Right now, my thought is … wait for it … ICE CREAM CAKE … but birthday girl requests get first priority (since I don’t actually know if ice cream cake is as exciting to you as it sounds to me).

  3. sartorias

    You are awesome. May this be a year of more excellent achievement, and joyful surprises!

  4. kmousie

    Many congratulations, and many happy returns!

  5. deadboxoffice

    You’re pretty damn impressive, even when it’s not your birthday.

    Have a happy one,


  6. unforth

    Happy birthday! I love your birthday egoism… 🙂

    I’m gonna toss in – been a supportive and wonderful friend. 😉

  7. owldaughter

    Don’t you *dare* feel guilty about the list not being longer, because wow, to have fit all that into twenty-nine years, which works out to significantly fewer adult years? Thump yourself on the back. You deserve it.

    Also, have an awesomely delicious and decadent dessert tonight. Because it’s your birthday. Have an excellent day, and may your coming year be blessed with joy, peace, prosperity, and discovery.

    • Marie Brennan

      Many thanks. 🙂

      I’m thinking next year will involve a big retrospective covering all thirty years. That should be an interesting exercise.

  8. d_c_m

    See, there are some things I’m very good at — like being self-critical.
    Well dear, you are a Virgo. 😉

    HOORAY FOR YOU AND YOUR WONDERFUL LIFE!! Be proud, Swan! I sure am proud to know you.

    • Marie Brennan

      Yes, I am. And whether one believes in astrology or not, there’s no denying that the Virgo characteristics are an extremely good description of me. (I laughed and laughed when I found out my ascendant is also Virgo.)

      • d_c_m

        Holy Toledo Blades!! That’s a lotta Virgo!! I have a Virgo Moon, so yeah, I understand being self-critical. 🙂

      • c0untmystars


        Try having the Moon and Saturn in Virgo in addition to that. It’s… very interesting, I tell you what.

  9. thespisgeoff

    A very happy birthday!!

  10. stormsdotter

    Happy Birthday! That’s a lot to have done in twenty-nine years!

    …if you boffer LARP, I will make you a weapon as Fan Art when I get to meet you at some con. This is My Plan for when I meet Jim Butcher, who plays NERO Central. Some day.

  11. querldox

    Happy birthday (and a pretty decent last two years : -)).

  12. Marie Brennan


    (I always save the Norwegian thank-you for you. ^_^)

  13. calico_reaction

    Have a fantastic birthday! 🙂 I don’t begrudge you a thing, though your post made me feel slightly depressed, as I turn 29 in October and don’t even come close to having this much to show for it, writing-wise. 🙂

    • Marie Brennan

      Noooooo — this should not be depressing to other people! The point is to feel good about what you’ve got, regardless of caveats and comparisons and all the other little things that drag you down on an ordinary day.

      • calico_reaction


        I’ve been in a bad frame of mind in terms of my own work this week, so it’s not your fault. I am, however, furiously proud of all your accomplishments, and I agree it’s good to look back to see what you’ve accomplished. I can definitely say there’s GOOD in my own life and I’ve made some good accomplishments, but like I said, I’m feeling pessimistic about my own writing. 🙂

  14. intertext

    Happy Birthday!! Those are some impressive achievements 🙂

  15. kernezelda

    Sounds like a darn respectable checkoff list to me. *g* Happy Birthday!

  16. la_marquise_de_

    COngratualtions on two very successful years. And Happy Birthday.

  17. orphan_of_oz

    That is a very impressive list indeed. Happy birthday!

  18. akashiver

    That’s an awesome list. Happy Birthday!

  19. shui_long

    Congratulations – and a very happy birthday!

  20. gollumgollum

    You forgot how many people you’ve introduced to Supernatural. 😀

    Happiest of birthdays!

    • Marie Brennan

      Heh — I actually thought about mentioning that, but forgot by the time I was done writing it up. Supernatural, and Doctor Who, and The Sandbaggers. I love getting friends addicted . . . .

  21. time_shark

    Happy Birthday, Bryn!

  22. ninja_turbo

    Otanjoubi Omedetou!

    You are an inspiration. Keep on rockin’ the free world.

  23. pameladean

    Happy birthday, and many happy returns, WITH list.


  24. c0untmystars

    That is a magnificent list. Happy birthday from a fellow Virgo writer-type person 🙂

  25. ailaes

    LĂ  breith sona dhuit!

    I should start up this tradition, if only not to focus on what I haven’t done in the past year.

    Though I am throwing a huge bash next year for the big three-oh, if only I made it that far, lol.

    Hope it was a good one darlin’.

    I did enjoy Ashes by the way!

    • Marie Brennan

      Yeah, exactly — it’s too easy to dwell on the negative, and sometimes you need a good solid kick out of it. Or at least I do.

      Go raibh maith agat!

  26. airycat

    What a wonderful way to celebrate a birthday! (Both the list and declaring it a special day for everyone.) I, for one, totally recognize the magnitude of packing everything and also unpacking it. It has always overwhelmed me. It’s not something I ever managed without LOTS of help. (Meaning my husband really does most of it.)

  27. Anonymous

    Great tradition!

    Happy recent birthday, Bryn. The list looks great, and be sure to also count the accomplishments that you not only *got* married but *have been* married every day since–and I’m not talking about big problems averted but about everyday junk dealt with, pack rats and all. I’ll ask David to look you up next time he’s in your neck of the woods (he’ll be out at conferences in Cali several times this fall, I think in your general area).

    –Lark S.

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