I normally take a moment in December to look back over the year that is almost at an end, but 2020 has hardly been a ‘normal’ year. So I’m taking that moment in November instead.
The Elephant in the World’s Front Room
Whether you’re writing a novel based in the here and now, reporting the news, or penning a blog post, there is no getting away from the fact that Covid-19 is here and taking a large slice of our ongoing consciousness.
I’ve heard 2020 referred to as ‘the year we all stayed in’ and ‘the year that didn’t happen’. To me, 2020 was the year that most of us realised what and who were important to us.
Friendships and family contact went online for many of us. I haven’t met up with my in-laws since before the lockdown began. Instead, we have Sunday video-calls, complete with our dogs barking to each other excitedly. I’ve met up with one local friend, twice, this year. The restrictions of the pandemic have forced the rest of my friendship conversations online and over the phone. Chats with our neighbours are done at a distance, often from the other side of the road, but we’re still there for each other.
Both of my children turned ‘adult’ this year. My son is now 16 (the first step to being a grown-up) and my daughter is 18. Neither birthday was marked with a party or expensive celebration. Instead, they were quiet family occasions, just the four of us, with a takeaway in the back garden over the summer for my son’s birthday, and then a quick, masked-up trip to Pizza Hut for my daughter’s eighteenth in the autumn.
Of course, we’re now on the verge of not just one but possibly three Covid-19 vaccines. Fingers crossed that they are healthy and effective and mean that 2021 isn’t a repeat of this year.
The writerly blogging community rallied around each other during the pandemic, reaching out to make sure that none of us went unheard or were left feeling isolated. As a result, I featured on several of their lovely websites in 2020:
- Fantasy author M J Mallon was the first to feature one of my guest blog posts in May as part of her Isolation for Writers series.
- On the same day, historical author Tony Riches published my author interview on his blog.
- A little later that month, poet Camilla Downes included me in her Meet The Author series.
- In June, YA crime novelist Melissa Hawkes featured my article What to Expect when you’re Published by an Independent Publisher.
- Next, I was a Writer of the Week on the Mrs Average Evaluates blog, with my piece Confession: I am a Serial Author.
- Lisa Sell placed me under the Author Spotlight.
- Julie Morris of A Little Book Problem invited me for (virtual) Friday Night Drinks in August.
- Author Chantelle Atkins of The Glorious Outsiders published my guest blog post as part of her Dreaming Of Another World series.
- Finally, the lovely poet and author Lily Lawson interviewed me on Lily’s Writing Life earlier this month.
A big, warm, thank you to all you for allowing me to introduce myself to your readers.
One benefit of having extra time on my hands was that I made good progress on the second book in the Haven Chronicles series. By the end of the summer, Burning Chair offered me a publishing deal for it – phew!
The lovely Si from Burning Chair will be getting his editing mitts on my manuscript in December, and Book 2 (with whatever title we decide on) will be published early 2021.
I also contributed a few pieces to 2020 Together: An Anthology of Shorts. All profits go to NHS Charities Together Covid-19 Appeal. So far, 2020 Together has raised over £600 for the charity.
A follow-up collection of shorts, 2021: Still Together will continue the good work when it is released at the end of this month. I’ve got a couple of pieces in that too.
So there you have it. That was my 2020 so far – weird, mostly in-doors, and spent with the people I love. It’s not the year I envisioned on the first day of January and it has certainly been a challenge. Still, there have been plenty of gems amongst the pebbles.
How about you? How has your 2020 turned out?