December 21, 2020

In Hindsight, 2020

So, this year happened. Reaching the end of it is a great relief, and a consequence of much privilege and luck. While next year will still be tough, I see reasons to believe in 2021 growing gradually better rather than gradually worse.

But I really shouldn't tempt fate by putting even that vague a prediction into the universe. I'm well aware that one of the prime forms of entertainment in these times is to find statements from the start of the year that have aged tragicomically badly.

On my own blog, I made the extremely ominous declaration in January that "Whatever else happens in 2020, it's set to be another great year for books." I regret the part I played in extending a dare to the year, but there is technically nothing untrue in this sentence. I was grateful all year to have wonderful books to read, and not to be afflicted with the widespread difficulty in focusing on text or stories. I'll post a roundup of my favorite books after I've wrapped up my reading year.

My year-end post for 2019 is also one to cringe over. A year ago, I was "extra optimistic" about making headway toward novel publication. Well, the global pandemic has put a lot of things on hold, and I have no updates on my own tiny little aspirations. I ended that post by wishing us all "progress in positive new directions." Commentary is left as an exercise for the reader.

Writing was hard this year, and I'm thrilled that I created any fiction at all. After a long stretch of floundering at writing anything, I spent much of June engrossed in a meandering story I never figured out how to finish. That got me back in the swing, and in August I wrote a rough story draft, beginning to end, in three days. It had promise, and over most of the rest of the year, I did a couple of revisions on this short story until it became something pretty good. Of course revision remains endless, and I'm planning to incorporate some great feedback into yet another draft, but that's a project for January.

In a normal year, right now I'd be enjoying a little getaway with family, but 2020 means no gathering and no change of scenery. I still hope to close out this year by reading, playing games, eating treats, and hanging out with family and friends thanks to the wonders of technology. I'll try not to speculate any further than that.

Good Stuff Out There:

→ Leslie Brody, author of a new biography of Louise Fitzhugh, describes a last-minute addition to one of the author's novels: " April 1973, Fitzhugh had been drafting a version of Nobody's Family Is Going to Change when she read on the front page of Sunday's New York Times that Clifford Glover, a ten-year-old Black child, had been shot in the back by a plainclothes police officer in Jamaica, Queens. Fitzhugh saw such incidents of unchecked police brutality as a nauseating throwback to the systemic racial violence of her youth in segregated Memphis, Tennessee. Born to a wealthy family in 1928, Fitzhugh would come to repudiate the white supremacist world of her childhood. By 1950, she’d settled in Greenwich Village. As a young lesbian artist, her first response to just about any assertion of supremacy—white, male, heterosexual, abstract expressionist, or just garden-variety pomposity—was typically to oppose it."

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