2020: The Year in Review

Audio Edition Coming Soon!


So. Here we are. It seems appropriate that my final Cat’s Cradle entry for 2020 falls on the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, and on the day of the Great Conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn. Pretty epic, right?

Like most people, 2020 has not been a particularly good year. Mine has been filled with relatively minor annoyances and constant low-level anxiety, so I’m not comparing it to the true horrors that far less privileged folk have faced. I’ve had it easier than many, but that does not mean it was easy. I learned a few things I wish I hadn’t. The level of physical and mental decay that I’ve sunk to came into stark relief. And my creativity and focus pretty much collapsed into a black hole.

The bright side is that I think I can crawl back out of it. It’s hard to make changes when you have no energy. It’s hard to plan for a future when you aren’t convinced that you’re going to have one. But there is still a small spark of resistance guttering somewhere inside me and with a few well-placed twigs and kindling, I may get it started again.

SUCCESSES in 2020:

1) I kept up with my “Obscure Books From Childhood” blog series on Second Unit Reviews! Back before the pandemic hit, I’d decided to do a weekly entry highlighting various influential middle-grade books that I was pretty sure most people had never heard of. And somehow I’ve managed to keep this 53-week commitment. I only have two books left to read and post about and then this long-running series will be complete. It’s been one of my most ambitious blogging projects and I’m pretty damn proud of it.

2) I’ve learned how to film and edit videos for YouTube and Facebook! Granted, all of this has been connected to work because all of our library programs had to be virtual this year. Still, I hadn’t picked up a film camera since college and had no knowledge of video editing software at all. Now I have a very nice hand-held Canon VIXIA HF R800 camcorder with a tripod, carrying pouch, and some other fun tools, a working knowledge of OpenShot Video Editor, and have combined these new skills with my previous experience with Audacity to create a series about stop motion animation, how-to videos for acrylic painting, and chapter-a-day read-alouds, among others.

3) Okami Amaterasu became a physical book! Thanks to the self-printing option offered by Barnes & Noble, I was able to take my Okami game novelization and have it made into a hardcover book, complete with illustrations. Obviously because it’s a fanfic I can never actually sell it, but I’m happy the preliminary print turned out so well and will actually be making alterations to the book’s specs as well as fleshing out the first few chapters a bit more so that the story is more accessible for people who may not have played the game. Right now you can read the story on Fanfiction.net, although I believe I will post the finalized, updated version on Inkitt, so keep your eyes peeled for that in the new year.

4) I finally fulfilled my dream of purchasing a handpan (steel tongue/tank drum)! While I have no idea how to read music and never really learned how to play, there are many instruments that are easy to learn by ear or are quite forgiving to those just mucking around. I finally settled on a tunable 9″ Galaxy handpan from ShinySteelDrums on Etsy. I also got myself a 17-note kalimba, or African finger harp, from MendocinoHomestead on Etsy, which is also super-fun and easy to play. (Best of all, the cats don’t mind the sound of these instruments, unlike my ocarina.)

5) Thanks to the first (only…?) pandemic relief pay-out and my own fortunate financial position, I was able to support others! I purchased more things from small, local, or independent stores, helped support a few people through Patreon, and gave more to charity and other worthy causes. It wasn’t enough by a long shot, and I probably still did more stress-shopping online than was good for me… but I put more thought and concerted effort into it than I have in previous years.


GOALS in 2021

1) Concentrate on completing another writing project. I still don’t know which one that might be as they are all in so many different stages. I’ve got at least two that need their raw prose put into chronological order from prior NaNoWriMo stints and then I can see which project catches my attention and should be worked on. Maybe I’ll even work on Ravens and Roses again… *weeps* (But I really need to get comfortable being inside my own head again… the stress of 2020 has left me constantly seeking distraction and stimulation rather than allowing for quiet reflection and contemplation.)

2) Reintegrate balance in the form of exercise, nutrition, digital detox, etc. This comes up every year, I know, but I really need to at least take baby steps into improving my health and strength because I’m a little concerned at how physically weak I am right now. If I want to find or maintain any bit of independence, I need to more physically fit. I also need to keep closer tabs on my social media usage because there has been way too much doomscrolling this year for my peace of mind.

3) Make use of the resources available to me. I’m paying subscriptions to a few writing related services that I haven’t been taking proper advantage of, mostly because I’ve felt too stressed and overwhelmed. But if I’m not using it, it doesn’t do me any good, so then why pay for it? So I want to work into my schedule regular times to use these services. And one of those services is the Barnes & Noble self-printing/self-publishing option which may be something I look into for some of my books.

4) Revise and submit short stories (as well as write some new ones!) This is something I haven’t kept up with, but need to work on to build some writing cred as well as improving my short story writing skills which are, I admit, not really the best. Concepts are easy. Execution is hard.

5) Make concrete plans for the future. This part is overwhelming and I don’t like to think about it. But changes will be coming in the next two, five, and twenty years that I need to be preparing for. Things like siblings moving out or parents passing away. Job changes, medical bills, or major repairs in addition to just keeping up with basic maintenance. I need to find additional income streams, bulk up my savings, and do a bunch of other unpleasant but necessary preparations for things that are inevitable, as well as trying to have a cushion for the unexpected. I can’t assume the status quo is stable and go on with my head in the sand or I’ll be in for a nasty surprise.


Here’s to a better year in…


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