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Taking Stock Of 2012

How was it for you, this past year? It was one of my best. It began with my agent Gary Morris getting me a deal to write a book about my sister and my hometown. The Little Way of Ruthie Leming [1]will be published in April 2013. I was able to spend the early months of the year interviewing people who knew Ruthie, and learning things about her I’d not known. After I finished the final draft, I took my wife and kids to Paris for a month, fulfilling a lifelong dream. There were some unpleasant things that happened — a bout with mononucleosis chief among them — but this was overall a great year for me, after two pretty crappy ones. Thanks be to God!

How was your 2012?

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19 Comments To "Taking Stock Of 2012"

#1 Comment By MEH 0910 On December 31, 2012 @ 5:44 am

In one respect [2] was [3]. Here’s hoping for [4].

#2 Comment By James C. On December 31, 2012 @ 7:11 am

Mine was not good, but I’m hopeful! The right attitude is not to focus on good years in the past—for me, the best were 1996 and 2004—but to plan out good years to come. I’ve learned that the hard way.

#3 Comment By Brett R. On December 31, 2012 @ 7:36 am

Definitely a great year. I received many blessings in 2012, but none greater than my daughter Peggy, born in February. Between her and her 2-year old sister, however, the only blessing I received too little of was sleep! 😉
Happy New Year, Rod, to you and yours!

#4 Comment By Pete S On December 31, 2012 @ 9:26 am

This has been an up and down year for me. My sister (42) passed away suddenly just after Easter, which took a toll on my family. Out of that I have learned to look after myself better and appreciate my wife and daughter more while never forgetting my sister. This was never more immediate than at Christmas Mass this year when our Priest spoke about the heavy hearts many feel while missing someone at Christmas, while still feeling the joy of Jesus’ birth.

#5 Comment By Jack Ross On December 31, 2012 @ 10:40 am

A good year all in all, I got to write a book I talked about writing some day since I was 18 and finished the draft on Saturday! That came at notable expense though – an inordinate amount of time spent writing in Vermont, a weird emotional roller coaster over the summer, having to neglect some other writing opportunities, making precarious my determination to travel while I’m still young, not seriously pursuing the opposite sex . . . . . well, you get the idea. Life is always a profit and loss statement, and I’ll try to attend to some of those things in the coming year.

Other disappointments have been the lackluster performance of my first book and drifting away from the moral therapeutic deist shul I thought had been a godsend, though with both of those there may be some for correction. On the other hand last year’s Brooklyn Folk Festival (perhaps the major social event of my year, I’m friends with all of them) was an absolute triumph and I’ve had the chance to finally branch out some in the music scene.

In that spirit of SWPL indulgence, with the magnificent grace of Guru Rimpoche, may all your wishes be fulfilled in the year of 2013!

#6 Comment By Michael J. Lichens On December 31, 2012 @ 10:44 am

Sounds like one hell of a year, Mr Drehr. Many more to you! My 2012 was awful, but a good learning experience. I’m hopeful that the lessons learned will make 2013 a wonderful year. In fact, like you in 2012, I’m jotting down a book and am on track to finish it in this year. It’s some hard work, by the way.

#7 Comment By Hunk Hondo(C.H. Ross) On December 31, 2012 @ 10:50 am

I know where your two crappy years went, Rod–they joined forces to make my 2012. But I’m glad yours was better, and I pray the trend continues in 2013.

#8 Comment By An Anachronistic Apostle On December 31, 2012 @ 10:53 am

The Lord didn’t come in glory, in 2012; although the year is not quite dead yet.

However, He did come under the simple guise of bread and wine, throughout the year, which fits with the manger-scene.

Pretty darn good, in other words, thanks be to God!

#9 Comment By Dan Davis On December 31, 2012 @ 11:03 am

Our first grandbaby was born, and she’s an incredible blessing. She’ll be a year old next month.

#10 Comment By Lord Karth On December 31, 2012 @ 11:53 am

My 2012 can be summed up in two words: quite unsatisfactory. For both personal and professional reasons.

I’ll not be sorry to see the last of this year. Not in the slightest.

Your servant,

Lord Karth

#11 Comment By Rod Dreher On December 31, 2012 @ 12:17 pm

Other disappointments have been the lackluster performance of my first book

I’m sorry to hear that, but not surprised. You shouldn’t be surprised to read me writing here at this time next year that I am disappointed with the lackluster performance of my second book. As I never tire of saying, more than nine out of 10 books fail to make back their advance. A friend of mine in publishing warned me that this was true just before “Crunchy Cons” came out, and I took his words as true, but figured that they probably didn’t apply to me, because I was a special case. And why was I a special case? Because I couldn’t possibly have worked so hard on a book and it not be a big seller.

He was, of course, right. The odds are against all writers. It is a hard, hard thing to pour so much of yourself into writing a book, only to have the world more or less shrug at it.

On the other hand, there’s nothing quite like going to the bookstore or looking at your own shelf and seeing your name on the spine of an actual book. So there’s that.

#12 Comment By GCR On December 31, 2012 @ 2:27 pm

My 2012 was good! – new job in a sort of new city, which led to a better church, new friends and lots of fun experiences. I got in better shape financially, and I look forward to more stability next year.

#13 Comment By Jack Ross On December 31, 2012 @ 3:12 pm

Of course there’s that, and any number of other things. It is all relative, and I read you state the 95% statistic before, in which case I can’t be doing too bad to have made back more than half in the first six months. (Still don’t know yet about the second). It was the less than 1,000 copies sold in the first six months, and the relative scarcity of reviews (though a few, including Paul Gottfried’s most generous in TAC). My biggest disappointment is that it didn’t draw as much attention from hostile reviewers as I had hoped, only one hostile review of note. But it did make it into Barnes and Noble, and I know it made a reasonable impact.

I have higher expectations for the far more ambitious book I just completed though, partly just by virtue of what it is, as I don’t doubt you have notably higher expectations for your second as well.

All told, 2013 should be a year of a lot of changes for me. I should take this opportunity to thank you, Rod, for your kindness in private correspondence both about my aforementioned emotional roller coaster and in giving advice on the business. The latter should certainly come in handy.

#14 Comment By Mr. Pickwick On December 31, 2012 @ 3:29 pm

Decided to retire early, to move to a drier climate and get out of the rat race (in hopes that my wife would pull out of a tailspin, both in terms of her medical and emotional condition). Left Oregon, got settled back in Montana again (after a 33 year absence). Downsized, downshifted and simplified our lives. Bought an old, fixer-upper house in an historic neighborhood and began restoring its traditional decor. After discovering numerous unexpected problems in the house, poured thousands of dollars into the pockets of local contractors (we call it our personal “stimulus package” for the community). Made the transition from practicing and teaching law to doing a variety of volunteer work (teaching classes on grizzly bear safety and backpacking, maintaining trails, running recycling drives, judging high school debate and speech tournaments). Helped two of our kids move. Helped the third kid (who has Asperger’s) get launched on his own. Drove across the continent, visiting family gravesites, reconnecting with friends and relatives. Increased my time outdoors (hiking, backpacking, cross country skiing, camping, berry picking). Began regularly writing long letters to family and friends. Started researching family genealogy.

It was scary to tackle so many changes in one year, and in some respects our timing was off (we took a beating in the real estate market, selling our Oregon house for much less than it was really worth). In many respects, our family budget numbers haven’t exactly penciled out as expected. We’ve found it harder to make new social connections where we now live, because we no longer have the usual contacts generated by work and school. But my wife has experienced some marginal improvement in her physical health, and her emotional state is better. And as much as I appreciated the dream jobs I once had (I practiced environmental law by day and taught wildlife law by night), I don’t miss them. Right now, I’m confident that I’m right where God wants me to be, using skills I haven’t tapped for many years.

I believe that God calls people, and that sometimes such calls require us to unplug from routine, take risks and make leaps of faith. We’re looking forward to 2013, and whatever the Creator may have in store for us.

Very warmest wishes for the new year to all the Drehers, and to this blog’s commenters. You’ll never know how much your posts have helped me navigate the challenges of the past year.

#15 Comment By Fred On December 31, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

A mixed bag for me, but I guess I have no right to complain when I read about the heartbreaking tragedies unfolding across the globe.

My wife continues to get promoted at her job and loves what she’s doing. I’m still happy w/my job (and employed!) despite major unrest in my profession. Our beautiful, healthy, precocious 3 year old daughter brings us more daily joy than I ever thought possible.


Last April we found out that the house we own and rent to tenants, which was to become the house that my wife’s parents retired to this coming year so they could be near us and their only grandchild, was rebuilt after Katrina with Chinese drywall. Probably not known to most folks outside Louisiana, but large quantities of this stuff was shipped to New Orleans after the federal flood, and it absolutely ruins all electrical, plumbing, HVAC – and can make you very sick if you live around it. If you have it in your house, you need to tear your house down to the studs, disinfect those studs, and rebuild/replace everything. And guess what? The massive class-action lawsuit which reached settlement on this closed to applicants at the end of last year, four months before we found out we had it.

Katrina destroyed both our homes, and took all our physical possessions/photos/family heirlooms. We thought we had finally passed through that trial. We fought insurance companies for years, worked our tails off, and rebuilt our homes and our lives here in New Orleans. We had made it through.

Nope. Gotta figure out a way to rebuild an entire house – again – without decimating our savings/retirement.

#16 Comment By RB On December 31, 2012 @ 4:35 pm

Our long-awaited 2011 baby (preceded by several miscarriages) had mysterious and persistent failure to thrive. Every month was a circus of weight checks, nutritionist appointments and visits to specialists in other cities.

Finally we got a diagnosis–a super rare chromosomal deletion. The children’s hospital doctor cautioned us that other children with her deletion have heart and kidney problems, and are often born without eyes (!). He told us to expect her to be very small and developmentally delayed.

But instead, she has shown no signs of cognitive delay, gained enough weight to put her on the growth charts, and even started walking a few weeks ago, a year or two sooner than we’d expected! Her therapists call her “the miracle baby”.

We gained another miracle baby too, who should arrive in the first few weeks of 2013. So blessed.

Our 2011 trials paved the way for our 2012 miracles. 🙂

#17 Comment By JonF On December 31, 2012 @ 6:28 pm

In retrospect I had a transformative year, though one lacking truly obvious transformative moments, like moving or losing a loved one. But my job has changed a lot, and become a much bigger part if my life perforce and I am now one of the most experienced people in the department, after considerable staff turnover at all levels, and I am a go-to guy for even the new company officers in our area. I have also been working my rear off.
Other things have happened too, and not happy things, though they involve another person’s problems and mental health issues, so I cannot really discuss here.

#18 Comment By L617 On December 31, 2012 @ 7:54 pm

For me 2012 felt like a transitional year. I’ve been operating under a cloud since at least 2003 (which darkened considerably in 2006 with the death of my ex wife). But 2012 was the first time in a long time I felt the burn in my kindling – a blaze is going to begin for me. I feel it.

#19 Comment By Darwin’s S-list On January 1, 2013 @ 12:51 am

2012 was…a slog. Not terrible – I was employed through the year, and nothing awful happened to me or anyone close to me, which was a blessing. But: