My 2012

Sorry to any fan’s of this blog for my in-activity. I’ve been writing for money lately and this blog don’t pay.

That said, I thought I’d do a re-cap of my 2012. It was an incredible year in my life. It started out great when I landed the cover of New City Magazine in Chicago an 80K circulation weekly. I wrote the article and took the photos.

New City Cover

Later Akashic Books turned down my debut novel The Old Neighborhood by a split decision in their editorial board. It broke my heart but I refused to lay down and die.

Then the big one as far as my print-journalism career goes. I landed a gig for a feature story with the Chicago Tribune Printer’s Row Journal.

Page 1 article

Bill Hillmann Chicago Tribune Article

Then it was off to Pamplona for my biggest payday to date as a writer with Outside Magazine. It was an eight post blog with two separate articles and the most comprehensive coverage of Fiesta in the English Language in 2012. Here’s my author pages at Outside.

Of course it wasn’t all fun and triumph.

Steer hits Bill Hillmann

On the second day of runs a highly aggressive Steer decided to buck me and put the possibility of my fathering children in the future in jeopardy. You can read more about that here…

But I dusted myself off again and through the high level of pain put together the best Fiesta of my life as a mozo.


Bill Hillmann Running With Bulls

It was going really good when this happened on the thirteenth.

Bill Hillmann Running With Bulls

Bill Hillmann Running With Bulls.

I ran stride-for-stride on either-horn in near perfect-sink with Jose Manuel Pereira one of the greatest Spanish runners running today, he’s also a Pastore at Sanse wich is probably the most elite run in Spain.

Bill Hillmann Running With Bulls.

I have vivid dreams about running the Callejon like this. It was the best run of my life, somewhere around 80 yards directly on the horns. It may have been on par with the runs of the all-time great American runners like Joe Distler and Matt Carney if it hadn’t ended like this…

Bill Hillmann Running Bulls

I smacked into the sand but luckily I didn’t disrupt the running of the animal and he mercifully didn’t step on me (we were pretty close friends by then).

This also marked my fiftieth run in Pamplona and it couldn’t have been more dramatic and incredible.

Then it was to the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland to complete a five-year long quest to represent Chicago against Edinburgh in a story slam. It was a sold out past-capacity event and I narrowly edged internationally renown author Jenni Fagan in our head to head heat. Amazingly I landed yet another Chicago Tribune Printer’s Row Journal article, this time covering the event.

Bill Hillmann Chicago Tribune

Cool-ass tag line I know. My pal Alexander Fiske Harrison also covered the event for the Spectator an 80K circulation weekly in London.

Basically Xander raved about it and officially established me an acclaimed storyteller.

From there my lovely, talented, beautiful, generous, humorous, sweet, did I mention pretty wife Enid Maldonado allowed me a second trip to Spain. It had become quite an obbsession of mine to travel to Cuellar Spain for the oldest Encierro of all. It was complete insanity. The first morning the bulls got loose in the forest outside town. So the town of Cuellar released six fighting bulls into the street one by one. Creating one of the most legendary runs ever (in my humble and unbiased opinion) – one full hour of Suelto’s.

It came to an end when my friend Angus Ritchie and I led the final Suelto through the Callejon together.

Bill Hillmann and Gus Ritchie Running Bulls

It didn’t end there two days later during by far the greatest run of my life, the morning ended with Xander and I leading the final Suelto through the Callejon.

Bill Hillmann Encierro Cuellar

Still later I snuck over to Sanse for a couple runs and was involved in the worst pile-up of the year. After leaping the pile, I did what I’d hoped I’d have the courage to do if I ever got in the situation. I went back to help pull runners out and successfully yanked one guy out by his buttox. In a scary twist this pile-up seriously injured Jose Manuel, it hospitalized 19. I walked around in ghost-white shock the rest of the day.

Bill Hillmann Pile Up in Sanse

I came home from the trip and guess what? The Chicago Tribune was interested in a story but this time for the Tribune Travel Section and yep it ended up on the bottom cover. My new friend Nicolas Haro published his photo alongside it.

Bill Hillmann Chicago Tribune

I was in awe of everything that’d happened. I even made a good chunk of change on construction sites that summer for the first time in two years.

Things were going really good when I sat down and pounded out a re-write of my novel for an interested agent who I’d met in Edinburgh. Then, on a whim I decided to send it over to my friend Jacob Knabb over at Curbside Splendor Publishing who I’d been hearing great things about. Sure enough after about a week Jacob accepted The Old Neighborhood and we signed the contract at the Bobby Hitz fights a few days later.

Bill Hillmann Curbside Splendor

Curbside is everything I wanted in a Publisher. They’re young, smart, energetic, talented, ambitious and excited about my novel. They have a highly respectable catalog which has been reviewed frequently by the Chicago Tribune and other notable publications. They have a book coming out soon by the outstanding humorist Samantha Irby which I believe could sell half a million copies. I couldn’t be happier.

That was gonna be it but then like a last second shot in a game that’s already been won, I published a long over due interview I did with the late great George Whitman, the longtime owner of Shakespeare and Company Bookshop in Paris with legendary online news outlet

It was an outrageously good year and I couldn’t be more grateful.

But still, I’ve decided in 2013 that it’s time to get serious, quit screwing around and finally get on with my life.


About thebutchersblog

I'm a writer and storyteller from Chicago.
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1 Response to My 2012

  1. Allie Baker says:

    Bill, what a breathless year and I am thrilled for you! As a fellow writer, blogger, and Pamplona fan I would say this is an amazing year indeed. It’s been fun to hear all about it. I hope your next year is just as adventurous =)

    Allie Baker

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