What's Up With Craig?
A BLOG THAT DRIFTS INTO HIGH ART,
LOW HUMOR, and RANDOM OBSERVATIONS
OF THE WRITING LIFE
Photo by Casey Page
I did this last year, and it was a nice way to frame up a memorable year gone by as a fresh one edged into view. So here we go: a categorical look at the year, with a few weeks still to unwind.
The proudest moment
If there's a moment more drenched in gratitude than seeing a play you wrote staged by actors at the top of their games, in front of an appreciative audience, I haven't experienced it and am not sure I could survive it. (I'd burst, is what I'm saying.)
Straight On To Stardust played for nine performances from Oct. 20 to Nov. 4, received wonderful audiences, and set Yellowstone Repertory Theatre—a professional troupe we're lucky to have—on a nice footing as it goes through its fifth season.
It was everything I love about the work: getting in there with memory and inspiration and creating a piece of writing, then turning it over to others who bring their own chops to it and make it better. The lifecycle of a play brings all of that into sharper focus. It was just words on a page until Craig Huisenga, Steve Zediker, Autumn Griffiths, Vint Lavinder, Susan Sommerfeld, Kate Restad, Emmett Gilfeather, Adam Roebling, Olivia Tyrrell, C.J. Armstrong, and Ben Bishop got involved. Then it became a living and breathing thing. What an experience!
And it's fair to say I have the bug: We closed in early November. By early December, I'd drafted a new full-length play. What will become of what I'm calling The Garish Sun? We'll see...
The best transformation
When I wrote this lookback a year ago, I was on the cusp of a big change in my day-to-day life: I had given notice at The Athletic, my employer of nearly four years, and was about to embark on a new career as a payments analyst and content specialist for a research firm. I was excited, nervous, hopeful, scared. Also nervous, if I haven't already said that.
Nearly a year into it—my anniversary is Jan. 9—I can say that I'm thrilled with the move, fully engaged with the work, and happy to be learning new things every day.
I'm certain I've written before about a former boss of mine, David Yarnold, who often spoke about the vitality of professional reinvention. His excellent advice: Replanting from time to time challenges stasis and creates learning opportunities. A year ago, on the brink of this change, I wondered if I had it in me in deep middle age. I wondered if I'd be exposed for all I didn't know or didn't have to offer.
Only one way to find out...
A year later, I've written research reports on cryptocurrency and ESG concerns, the financial crunch of Gen X (twice!), instant money movement and the potential rise of account-to-account payments, new tools for the age-old challenge of cross-border payments, and more. I've edited research reports across a wide range of topics: digital banking, fraud and cybersecurity, wealth management, and, yes, payments.
Every day, I take a deep dive into money movement—a fascinating topic in itself, made especially so to me because of my inherent interest in financial inclusion and human motivation for choosing tools and technologies—and get to talk with and learn from exceptionally smart people.
The heaviest loss
In May, I went to Alaska to say goodbye to Dan Gensel.
It was too soon. Whenever it happened, it would have been too soon.
It was also too late. Alaska played a huge role in my early adult life. It was the first place I moved away to. It was a place that drew me back and gave me professional direction. And when I left the second time, in 1998, I swore I would come back regularly.
Instead, I went back only twice in nearly 25 years. Dan's memorial service prompted the third visit.
In the nearly seven months since, I haven't been able to get Alaska out of my mind. Nor have I wanted to. There's an inertia to everyday living that blunts even the most basic of plans, but that one—being in Alaska more frequently—is something I should have insisted on.
That inertia, of course, makes it difficult to say when I'll be back. Circumstances have me pretty well pinned down in Montana these days, but...circumstances do change. To be continued...
The best developments
If arts and the American West are your bags—guilty!—there are riches out there on Substack. (I tried Substack and ended up back here at an old-school blog. Shrug emoji.)
A few I recommend highly:
Anna Paige is writing a weekly newsletter from her residency at Aunt Dofe's Gallery in Willow Creek, Montana. Anna is a thoughtful and generous writer who is passionate about the arts, community, and sustainability.
Here's one to watch: View From the Bluff by one of my favorite novelists, Malcolm Brooks (Painted Horses, Cloud Maker). Malcolm is such a keen observer and such a good storyteller. Can't wait to see where he takes this.
John Clayton is using the platform to tell stories from the natural world. John learns about fascinating stuff and gracefully shares the knowledge. (I'm also old enough to remember when he had a Substack site making fun of Substack, so I'm glad to see he's found a better outlet.)
Change is inevitable; it's the risk and the reward of managing to stay alive. So I enter each new year not wanting to impose too much control over how it's going to unfold. One, it's folly and vanity. Two, stories are always so much more interesting when you can't see the twists coming.
I have a new novel coming out in March. I've been waiting a long time for this one, and I'm so thrilled to share it with you. Should have another new one in 2025. More on that soon, no doubt.
I'll see you on the other side of December 31. Take care of yourself and the people and places you claim as your own.
Craig Lancaster is an author, an editor, a publication designer, a layabout, a largely frustrated Dallas Mavericks fan, an eater of breakfast, a dreamer of dreams, a husband, a brother, a son, an uncle. And most of all, a man who values a T-shirt.
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