Reflections on 2020 and 2021


The final hours of 2020, an unparalleled year.

Tomes have been written about this year’s brutal heartaches. The pandemic. Social unrest. Politics. I’ve written my thoughts here and elsewhere, a lone voice in oceans of words. But, generally, on New Year’s Eve, I look inward, because my choices are all I can truly control. And in the effort of keeping this post upbeat as we head into a new year, I’m going to focus on the positive.

This year brought me an incredible opportunity and life changing experience. My internship at Writers House has been all I hoped it would be and more, and I’m incredibly grateful to those who played a role in getting me there and making it so very fabulous. I also adore my fellow interns. I expect great things from them. They’re brilliant. Truly inspiring.

The writers and illustrators in my sphere have been wonderful. For those sad about missing events we’ve had to cancel through SCBWI-Wisconsin or the Fantasy Art Workshop’s Illustration Intensive, keep hope. In-person events will return someday. And we’re all more cognizant of healthy behaviors, so that’s a bonus. 🙂

What does 2021 hold in store? We’ve got a long way to go to recover from our multiple crises, but I’m personally hoping the recovery does begin. It would help to loosen and unravel the collective knots in our chests. And then we can, worldwide, turn our attention to improving our lot.

Personally, I’m looking to dig deeper into publishing, lavish time on Fantasy Art Workshop, and maintain my practice of gratitude, which I started just over a year ago, and has greatly balanced my outlook.

Look, if you’re reading this, on a screen, somewhere relatively safe, and you’re decently fed, you’ve got a lot to be grateful for. Let’s remember just how lucky we are as we step into 2021. Now as always, but uniquely today, we’ve got new chances ahead of us.

Isolating in a time of nonstop isolation

Today I’m starting an adventure that looked so different earlier this year.

I’m at an isolated retreat at Write On, Door County, a non-profit that offers retreats not just for writers but for leaders of literary arts programs, in my case the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators-Wisconsin. It turns out I’m the first one to retreat here in the admin category! How cool is that?

I have a whole quiet house to myself on 40 acres. It’s interesting that people come here for isolation, and I’m coming here during a time of nonstop isolation. I’ve been seriously social distancing since March, so being here doesn’t feel quite like the getaway it might have been. However, I’m grateful for the change of scenery, the true quiet outside the city (no sirens!), and the immense darkness found in northern Wisconsin (no light pollution from neighbors’ garage lights or broadly arching street lamps!). Honestly, stepping outside at night I cannot see my hand in front of my face. It’s beautiful… and a bit unnerving. Yeah, I’m a city girl.

I’ll be really digging in to SCBWI-Wisconsin planning this week. We have one virtual event planned for early 2021, and we’re hoping the fall events can be in person. Optimism, folks. Meantime, enjoy some pix. 🙂

 

A giant gnome on the way to Door County because … just because.

 

Side view of The Coop from the trail behind the house

 

The Coop, the famed former writing studio of the late, great author Norbert Blei

 

Interior of The Coop with a well used writing desk

 

Interior of The Coop with a painting of Norb Blei