2020. The year that wasn’t, as some call it. And what a doozy it’s been. Stricken with a worldwide pandemic that only graced the top of the shit iceberg, 2020 has been a blockbuster of a Hollywood disaster film, set in real-life time. Social unrest in the US boiled over and spilled into the streets. And a vaudeville show called the Presidential Election brought out the most voters in a century. Wildfires in the western US and Australia may have contributed to a hurricane season that went through the English alphabet, the Greek alphabet, and half way through the English one again.
Or how about enough astrological events to put the fear of whatever gods they worshipped into our ancestors? A laundry list of anomalies, including a planetary Christmas Star, a few lunar eclipses, a solar Eclipse, multiple blue moons, and a fucking comet we haven’t seen in 8,000 years.
The loved ones we’ve lost as a result of the pandemic, the businesses lost, the dreams and goals of people crushed. Yeah. From murder hornets to bullshit conspiracy theories, 2020 was a pile of crap.
But it wasn’t all bad. Evolution and adaptation led to innovations. Musicians who couldn’t tour used the magic of streaming services like Twitch to supplement their income. Zoom and virtual conventions came into being. The way we digest our entertainment migrated from the concert halls and multiplexes to the home. From Netflix’s Tiger King and Queen’s Gambit, to Disney+’s The Mandalorian and HBO’s Lovecraft Country, there was plenty of episodic TV. The blockbuster film shifted to the small screen, too, with mixed results.
Me? Like everyone else, I’ve felt the bite of 2020. My best friend took his own life, and I think about him every fucking day. I was forced to sever ties with 2 people I respected who turned out to be monsters with similar ideologies. A lifelong dream project of mine was brought out to the pasture and shot in the head, a result of my own naive inexperience in the business, and ultimately a huge learning experience for me.
But I took advantage of this time, and I learned a shit ton about my craft.
The year started out great with a short story sale and big plans for the year with shows and horror community events. Then covid hit… and I didn’t stop. I released two books with Stitched Smile Publications, Bella’s Boys and The Death List. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate Lisa Vasquez and the family at SSP. The magazine, House of Stitched, has lured me back to writing journalism.
I took a class every month with the amazing Garrett Cook. I wrote thousands of words, and even finished a few novelettes, while making progress on a good half dozen longer pieces. I got a bunch of rejections from submissions, and I learned from each one.
I got the pleasure of working with two of the best editors in the indy horror community, Donelle Pardee Whiting and Lisa Lee Tone. Some of the stories I rewrote, taking suggestions from the editors who rejected them. And like Steve Austin on the operating table, I made them better… stronger… scarier. I believe I have written some of the best material in my career thus far during the pandemic, and I can’t wait to share it with you all. Every story is like a little pandemic baby, created when my imagination fucked my mind.
My podcasting brothers, Scott, Walter, Skip, and Dan – they helped me get through some of the worst depressions I suffered during the year. For much of the year, they were the only people, other than my wife, who I had contact with on a regular basis. It was always by remote, but the interactions is what mattered. They kept me from going out of my mind.
I paid it forward as much as I could this year. When my wife and I had extra, we’d share. She’s tended to her elderly mother four days a week every week through the pandemic. So tell me, reader, what has shined through this #YEARTHATWASNT for you? Think about it, you might find more good than bad in the whole scheme of things. And that is something to keep you going into 2021. 2020 has been a literal walk through the Underworld for all of us. We’re still fumbling through the Pandemic Lincoln Tunnel with Larry and Rita, and it’s been a scary trip. But we can see the light at the end.