This year felt like being trapped in stagnation. We were brought down by a virus like none our generation has seen. We were beaten down further by racial tensions, natural disasters that never stopped coming, a crushing economy and an election that ripped this country apart. By the time the holidays hit, we felt like we just couldn’t win. That we’d repeated the phrase: “it has to get better now, right?” so many times that we were afraid to even whisper it.
Hope flickered (again) in early December when vaccines were approved, Congress started talking about a second wave of help, the election was over and scientists began to talk about when vaccinations could occur. Yet many of us, including those who write books, looked around and suddenly realized the year was nearly over.
Did we use this time stuck at home to finish our novel, finally learn French or Spanish, create the perfect garden, fine-tune our cooking skills? I would venture a guess that many of us would answer “no.” Somehow the extra time we had on our hands, the elimination of stresses like traffic or pet peeves like crowds and lines, did not translate into productivity. I think part of the reason is that we also felt helplessness like we haven’t felt since the days following 911; the world looked different and it both frightened and angered us. We spent many hours wondering how we got here and when it would ever end.
As far as what happened to me personally, I’m disappointed that I could not make myself find a way to get my first solo novel into print. What was the point? There was no way to sell it; the arts and crafts markets and book fairs where mom and I sold many Fate Series books, the author events giving me advice on how to get published, the writer’s group meetings that kept me inspired. None of that happened in 2020. I did manage to reach the end of the book—to finish a first draft. But I cannot seem to get it polished to my standards. I can’t seem to make myself spend countless hours researching publishers or potential agents or sending it out to beta readers and friends.
But I’m determined to change in 2021. As with many aspects of my current life, my husband is one of my inspirations. He suggested I take a writing course, which brought me right back to the beginning of this wonderful journey with mom that began in 2012. Before I ever started working with her; before I ever considered trying to write a whole novel, I took online courses to learn how to make the transition from freelance writer to fiction writer. I did it for fun and because it helped my writer sister Allyn Stotz get started. But it turned into the path to make one of my dreams in life a reality: writing books. That dream blossomed quickly as Mom and I put out five novels in our series and another two books of stories. Along the way, we appeared on television, had magazine and newspaper features done on our mother/daughter writing experience, attended dozens of events where we were asked to speak and met hundreds of people who love books and share our passion for the written word.
My mom can’t write anymore. Loss of vision and mobility have made that impossible. But our dreams were reached together, and I’ll take our achievements and our enjoyment into my solo act. I also hope that I’ll have my writer sister Al at my side, kicking me into action (as I intend to kick her).
It’s time to get 2021 rolling and leave 2020 behind. Will you join me?