The good, the bad, and the ugly: 2020
I was thinking about how I wanted to approach this post. I thought perhaps to talk about the bad and the ugly and then end on the good—you know, leave it on a positive note. But, like the rest of the year, things are not so cut and dry. Stuff doesn’t fall nicely into the categories. So, this will be a bit of a jumble of thoughts, and hopefully, I can end it with a happy message.
Let’s start with the obvious: the pandemic has been brutal. I have been fortunate to avoid catching it, but I know multiple people who have not been as lucky. Some of the impacts have been devastating, and I feel deeply for those who have lost loved ones or are still suffering from the aftereffects of the disease. Mask wearing should not be political; please wear one.
With all the ugly that comes with covid, I will say that there have been some positive impacts on my life. The switch to working from home full time allowed me to lose over 30 pounds. In April, I decided to go back to paying attention to what I ate and put some effort back into exercising. I’ve been under 165 pounds since mid-August and plan to stay there. This was all because I was home and did not eat lunch out and could not go out to restaurants for dinner. (Though I’ve done a fair amount of take-away.)
Writing, or lack thereof
A year in review must include updates on my writing. I have not been entirely devoid of activity on this front. My 6th novel, Bound, released February of 2020. I enjoyed the switch over to Urban Fantasy and really like the character of Kyrie. My plan had been to get book 2 in the series written this year as well as finish the first book of a new traditional fantasy series. Unfortunately, neither of those things happened.
I do not talk about my day job on this platform. That is an intentional division I have made to keep those parts of my life separate. However, starting near the end of 2019, my typical 45-50 hour workweek shifted to more of a 50-60 hour workweek. Initially, I dealt with it and managed to juggle (generally by not getting enough sleep), but in 2020, the 50-60 hours soon moved to 60-80+ hours a week. Mentally, I had little of anything left. And as those who write know, consistency in finding the time to write is key. It is hard to spend an hour here, then come back four days later and smoothly pick things up again if you have to stop 30 minutes later.
Do not get me wrong, I was happy to not have lost my job as a result of the pandemic, but as a salaried person, the extra hours did not add extra compensation, only took away from other parts of my life. And even if I had been paid extra for the time, time is one of those things you can never get back.
So, during one of those particularly difficult weeks, I finally responded to a recruiter that had reached out a few times before, and this time I listened. As a result, I found the opportunity quite intriguing. So in November of this year, I made a career change that excites me.
What does that mean for my writing? I should once again have time for it!
Quick Status on writing efforts
A quick update on my writing. The first book of the new traditional fantasy series is about 80k words done, with another 20k words or so moved to a folder for book 2 in the series. I found I had been a bit too optimistic on how many words I needed to get in all the plot points I wanted for book one, so I’ve added another book into my plans.
For the second book in the Bound series, well, human malware has changed some of the original direction. While I am not explicit with the date of the setting, it is set in a modern world and for something as impactful as covid has been, I feel I really need to include some aspects of it into the story line.
Other things in 2020. In some regards, there was nothing worth mentioning. However, at the same time, it is the small things in life that create the day to day meaning.
One big item is my 3D printer and everything I have been printing. Mostly, it has been stuff of my own design. I have started to get much better with FreeCAD and have designed a number of things around my office from a softlight plate for a LED panel, to trays for my pens and paint bottles, to complex hooks to hang a curtain around wire shelving so it is less distracting on video calls. I have built boxes with friction locking tops, couplers to mate camera stands to desk clamps, holders for humidity sensors, and anything else my wife asks me to make for her. It has been one area of creativity that I have been able to express in 2020.
Plans for 2021?
Oh, the new year. What plans do I have? The same ones I have even night: try to take over the world.
Perhaps not. Here is a list, in no particular order, for things I want to accomplish in 2021:
- Finish the first book in the new traditional fantasy series
- Finish the second book in the Bound series
- Actively start posting on my site again
- Learn ZBrush so I can do some digital sculpting
- Create more maps
- Record some videos and perhaps do some live streams
- Practice figure drawing
- Do some night photography of the stars
- Run a 10k (or at least the distance)
That is probably a good list of things. I don’t want to plan too many.
Final thoughts for the year in review
2020 has been a struggle for many. There have been good things and absolutely horrendous things that have occurred. Will 2021 magically be better? No. But there is light out there and if we all work at it, things will continue to improve.
Stay safe, love one another, and I will see you tomorrow in the new year.