Tomorrow I’m posting how Pagham-on-Sea residents celebrate(d) NYE and New Year’s Day, but today is a more personal look back at the year that was.
Main Achievement 2020: DEVELOPED SELF CARE
Self Care. I learned how important this actually is for me, made space to do it in different formats, and went back to therapy. I have really struggled with the huge disruptions to my routine and discovered that I am almost certainly neurodivergent (potentially ADD/ADHD) and that I should look into this more to discover tools and strategies that will help me balance my work and personal life going forwards.
My mother died in May of a stomach infection, and, due to COVID, I was unable to go to the funeral or scatter her ashes, and nothing has been sorted out yet.
I underwent some serious shifts in identity, from losing my mum to accepting some aspects of my own self, especially my sexual orientation which, as near as I can understand it, is equal opportunities [pan?] grey/demisexual and grey/demiromantic, which I do not deal well with, as I have real trouble calibrating my sense of self internally and rely on external factors to be stable in order to readjust. So 2020 has been a really tough year in those respects.
Self care has been key, which looks like skincare routine, investing in myself by paying attention to things I just… haven’t paid any attention to in years, like buying my own clothes rather than accepting hand-me-downs in other people’s styles because they (sort of) fit me. I’m definitely not ungrateful but now I can afford to buy things that suit me and create my own looks again, I just… don’t. So I’m having to re-learn how to. This may sound really shallow but when you don’t have a sense of self, it’s really important to work out basics like – what my favourite colours are, what I actually genuinely like, what looks good on me – rather than go with a haphazard collection of things in other people’s styles and colours that I don’t even wear because when out of my work uniform I don’t see the point of getting dressed.
Self care has been not only re-establishing that basic sense of myself and actively combatting my body dysmorphia, but also allowing myself to wear things ‘in public’ and get dressed up for Zoom calls and Google Meets. I stopped wearing makeup daily a long while back – 2010-ish – and it’s been really fun taking an interest in that again too. Not daily, but when I want to.
Other aspects of self care have included giving myself permission not to be productive, to engage in activities I want to when I want to do them, and to accept rather than fight my oscillating attention span, brain fog days, and hyperfocus. I don’t try to create when I can’t.
There’s also a big spiritual element to my self care, and I used to have a journal discipline that was a key component of that, which I started in 2006. This year, as in another bad mental health year for me, I haven’t been able to keep it up. This year has been about finding new ways to engage with the world, with the Divine, with fellow believers and worshippers, and to express my spirituality and find new (to me) disciplines and practices that will work for me at this stage of my life.
I’m still incorporating journaling into this, as writing as a big part of my life, but in a different format to my usual one… and I’m giving myself time and space to figure this out and try a few things without pressuring myself to ‘get it right’ straight away.
So I’m chalking self care up as my main 2020 achievement, from the small things to the bigger things.
Favourite Community Moments
Around the end of March I found the brand new and growing Romancing the Gothic community which was an amazing way to connect with people and learn so many cool things. I live tweet the free lectures and talks, and have made so many great new friends!
Nita Pan put together the Wraiths Writing With Wine group, alcohol entirely optional, where we meet up twice a month and socialise online and chat about our projects. The Discord server has been so helpful for accountability and support! I’ve had so much fun and really enjoyed getting to know people (with some overlap from RtG!)
I can’t settle my brain to read very much. Last year, I read 10 books. In 2018 I read 3. I think I may have read more than 3 but wasn’t using Goodreads as much, so I’ve forgotten what they were. Anyway, this year my goal was 12 – one a month. I upped it to 20 and read 25. I’m including short stories here as well, because sometimes I can only read very short things. I read way more erotica than is pictured here, but hey-ho.
Hungry Business by Maria DeBlassie
Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeanette Ng
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
The Dare by Harley LaRoux
Unspeakable: A Queer Gothic Anthology ed. Celine Frohn
From the Dust Returned by Ray Bradbury
Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht
How to Unpeel a Monster, by Nimue Brown
The Evolution of a Girl by L. E. Bowman
Favourite Writing Moments 2020
FAVOURITE MOMENT 1: Wrote a novel last year. Finished it this year. Got feedback on it. Gutted the novel, rewrote the whole middle section, added a prologue and an epilogue. Further critique and edits/revisions to come in 2021, and the release! While you wait for the ARC announcement, add Thirteenth to your Goodreads.
FAVOURITE MOMENT 2: Was published in the horror anthology F is for Fear by Red Cape Publishing. My story is one of 13 tales of terror, and is called THE SOUND OF DARKNESS. It came out in October 2020.
FAVOURITE MOMENT 3: My novella THE RELUCTANT HUSBAND was accepted into the forthcoming anthology Spooky by Association, ed. Nita Pan. Really excited for this!
FAVOURITE PROJECT 2020: Without a doubt, Eldritch Girls Just Want to Have Fun, started January 2020 and co-written with Nita Pan. My post on the co-writing process is here. It’s my first co-written project, and I’m loving the process and the whole experience. It’s also one of my favourite things to write.