well, here we are. surviving.
i wrote this year, in fits and starts, and have new pages to show for it. for fun, i started a mystery novel in november (my own version of nanowrimo) and threw 11, 000 words onto the page. it felt great, TBH. there are no stakes with this kind of writing, you just throw words down and keep going. anyway, here’s a little sample:
“Don’t mind the trains,” said Wilkins when I signed the lease on the hood of his truck the week prior. I assured him that I didn’t mind the constant stream of trains hauling goods across Southern Alberta, not at all. Companions, especially at night.
Wilkins looked me up and down. “You married?”
“No sir,” I replied, and hooked my thumbs into the pockets of my jeans like a man. Strategically, deliberately, I widened my stance and rocked back on my heels. The games women play to make our selves bigger.
“Best lock these doors,” he replied, handed me the key to the cabin, and grinned. One of his eyeteeth was noticeably crooked, but not in a charming way, in a sharp-toothed way. No orthodontics for this farmer.
“I carry a weapon, Wilkins,” I said and he was chastised. Why do men do that? Vaguely threaten women navigating a life on their own, and pretend that it’s funny? Habit, I suppose, but bad habits need breaking.
i listened to the radio a lot this year, specifically CKUA and CJSW. i’ve listened to a lot of dance music with the subwoofer on, the beat thrumming the wood floors. it’s like a heart beat, you know?
the song of this year of heartbreak?
i watched a lot of TV online this year, like most folks. there were good series: QUEEN’S GAMBIT; THE SOPRANOS; I MAY DESTROY YOU; WHITE LOTUS; HACKS; MARE OF EASTTOWN; STARSTRUCK. THE CHAIR was delightful in a gossipy, literary, academic way.
but i struggle to remember the shows because i used streaming as a form of anesthesia. readers, the world was too much in 2021 and i needed a substance, and streaming was it. and i did it consciously, knowingly. the only strategy i used was trying to select good quality content, but i did fuck up and watch made-for-TV movies like CHRISTMAS IN A CASTLE and, for that, i am ashamed.
WONDER BOYS; MIDNIGHT IN PARIS; THE HOURS; MULHOLLAND DRIVE
this year i started sampling a directors list, revisiting older movies that i’ve loved. directors like ridley scott and jane campion and david lynch. i plan on continuing this into the new year. and i’m watching short films because they’re terrific! here’s the trailer for one:
finally, books. BOOKS.
reading in 2021 was difficult and i managed 30 books, down from my average of 50 books/year. i struggled with concentration, friends. i did read lots of craft essays on-line and discuss them with writer friends, and for that i’m grateful.
my top three books for 2021 were as follows. HAMNET AND JUDITH by maggie o’farrell for a glorious middle chapter about a flea on a voyage that taught me about how important creating a bridge in a novel can be; SATELLITE LOVE by genki ferguson for a story about the pimply-blush of first love; THE FRIEND by sigrid nunez for a story about friendship, and also gossipy in a literary way.
i have new books in my TBR pile. i’m trying to focus on a way to read more effectively this year and i suspect a schedule is required.