Blogs are dead, right? They are an ex-communication platform. Cashed-out and counting worms. Double-tapped.
As 2020 dawned grey and cold for the northern hemisphere, everyone trilled with the possibilities of a big, round symbolic number. My plans were ambitious: finish the revisions on my novel after beta feedback, get it into shape to start querying agents, begin the next project, all while being a student again, having applied and been accepted to The Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University. It was going to be a lot of work, but I was hungry for it. Ready.
And then. *rolls wrist, gestures at world*
Things I didn’t do:
- Celebrate my birthday with friends. (I was in school, a double-header class day on a Saturday, sparsely populated with students, subdued and wary, as Vancouver waited for the official city-closure notice to come down.)
- Go into the office more than a handful of times as we shifted to remote work. (And while my apartment has what I consider to be a pretty sweet setup for my writing, it doesn’t for the dayjob.)
- Get in shape, start eating healthy, learned a language, started knitting, or any of the many things we told ourselves were possible to soothe ourselves. (Collectively recognizing it as trauma would come later.)
- Write my 2020 Favorite Books post, clearly, as my last post here was that exactly for 2019. (I did read, but no more or less than I do any year. I did find it harder to sink into a book, thanks to the formless fog of isolation.)
- Not stop thinking about the American election day-in, day-out with existential intensity, and trawling new sites for some glimmer of hope about COVID-19.
The year stumbled forward, I stumbled forward, while staying firmly in one place.
Things I did do:
- Cancel my nebulous plans for travel and took advantage of the new alternative as conventions, when they were able to, moved online, like the Nebulas, and check out ones that got their start virtually, like Flights of Foundry.
- Shifted from in-person learning at Simon Fraser’s downtown campus to remote learning, and all its associated joys. But I completed the course, met a great group of people, wrote and critiqued and tried new things.
- Revised the book, got my query and synopsis in shape, compiled my agent spreadsheet, and started querying. (Infinite thanks to Curtis Chen for his class and review of my first query. Dude, I owe you.)
- Sold a historical horror story last last June that appeared in the July issue of Giganotosaurus: The Pandora. I had workshopped at Taos Toolbox in 2017. I think it’s some of my best writing, but it’s incredible dark, based as it is on the real life ambitions of Thomas Day. (Just what a pandemic year needs!)
- Struck gold. After partial and full requests, signed with an agent in September! I am pleased as hell to say I am represented by Dorian Maffei of KC&A Literary Agency. Set in on her requested edits and got those big picture edits turned around by the end of year.
- Watched the news. So much news. (Who wasn’t watching the news, breath held, fingers crossed?) Boosted voices on social media, awed at their bravery, with them in their fury as again and again Western countries denied, gaslit, and enshrined the worst of human behavior.
I tried several times last year to write a blog post, to catch up, but never knew what to say in a scattershot, essay-esque format. I had good news. But who wants to hear good news? And while I shared it on social media, as one does, I kept thinking, I should blog about it, too. Right?
But blogs are dead.
Sure, there are walled gardens with fences of varying heights. Paid newsletters, Patreons. And as one of the many scrabbling to try and make money off my work, I get it. But I miss that wider network of writing and thinking, the discourse, which on places like Twitter gets chopped into fragments that don’t always cohere. I learned so much in the 2000s as a young writer following the blogs of writers whose work I’d admired, and then the blogs of writers I hadn’t yet read. I miss that. And I wonder if it makes harder for new writers coming up now.
All right, my fave books read in 2020: The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline, The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Geisbrecht, Ormeshadow by Priya Sharma, Circe by Madeline Miller, The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Hunting Vampires by Grady Hendrix, Mexican Gothic by Sylvia Morena-Garcia, Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas, The Good House by Tananarive Due, and The Twisted Ones by Ursula Vernon writing as T. Kingfisher. Houses, homes and horror. Huh. Seems like fitting pandemic reading.
Now, 2021. My book is on submission, so I am putting it out of my head and focusing on the next project while I wait for my chance to be vaccinated. I have no doubt that I will break down and cry the second that spent needle slides out of my shoulder. Hoping, too, that the voices that have risen up against hate aren’t silenced as world picks itself up after COVID.
Societies have the greatest capacity for real, lasting change after traumatic events and upheavals. Movements like Black Lives Matter, fighting for trans lives, eliminating voter suppression are more important than ever after a US election that barely repudiating the work being done to restrict people, their rights and their lives. We cannot let it pass by unremarked, as the exception, just a blip, as things go back to “normal.” Relief can’t become complacency. 2021 can’t just be a remix of 2019. We have to do so much better than that.
I’m not an essayist, and I am barely a blogger, as you can tell. Not sure if I will keep the “blog” portion of this site alive but for now, it’s nice to check off a to-do that’s been on the list so long the ink was starting to fade.