Adieu 2020, you won’t be missed! Although we won’t be fully done with you until we’ve all been vaccinated (and for we poor Remoaners, until we rejoin the EU). Nevertheless, our internal clocks insist it’s stocktaking season: the time to review our successes and failures, to measure ourselves against January’s goals. Starkly unblinkered this year, we gaze back at what seems the Age of Innocence, adjusting our aspirations for 2021. But however we’ve fared, since the pandemic makes staying alive an achievement, we can congratulate ourselves on arriving here.
Amid the lows and lows, I’ve made some progress with my reading, writing and promotion, with some positives that wouldn’t have happened without lockdown. Let’s have a closer look!
Like many, I’ve read a fewer pages this year (31,774 according to Goodreads), although, with 114 books, still surpassed my unambitious target of 100. Of those, I assigned five-star ratings to 12 novels and two non-fiction books. Click on the image to find out why.
As you see from the bar chart below, I met my targets regarding independent publishers, translations and female authors, but failed for BAME authors, rather embarrassing when the Black Lives Matter protests were the high point of a grim summer. Must try harder next year!
I reviewed most of the books I read and posted those reviews here on Annecdotal, plus three posts on Lockdown Literature at the Ranch. A far too large proportion of my other posts (out of 87 in total) were rants about not-my-government’s mismanagement of the pandemic. I wish I could say with confidence that won’t be happening in 2021.
This image shows the most recent, but a click will reveal the whole lot!
Short story publications
I’ve failed to reach my century of short story publications for the second year running, but I’m edging closer with five new flash fiction credits and one longer story. But the main achievement was self-publishing a short e-book Somebody’s Daughter and discovering the world doesn’t end when Anne Goodwin uses Amazon. (Unless …)
Although I did make my book available on Amazon, my main motivation was to give something back to my newsletter subscribers and entice new ones. Well, something worked, as my list has doubled over the year, albeit from a very small baseline.
I hope to grow my newsletter further in advance of the publication of my next novel.
While some spent the first lockdown painting skirting boards or excavating the loft, I was meticulously (obsessionally) editing Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home prior to my publisher’s edits in the autumn. If I’d been true to the targets I set in January, I’d have moved on to Snowflake after that, but I didn’t even open the document. Instead I embarked on Matilda Windsor‘s sequel. (Blame the strange times: I never dreamt I’d write a sequel, but I am enjoying it.)
I actually managed to do two bookstalls this year with fellow IQ author, Clare Stevens. But the surprise bonus was doing events online. When I set myself the scary target to perform at an open mic event I never imagined I could do so from the comfort of home. I decided my mix of three local (okay, two are pre-recorded) and three international readings merits a YouTube playlist: Standup 2020. This squeaky reading is my most recent:
But the highlight has to be delivering a live flash fiction workshop with Charli Mills from the USA. We may never meet in person, but that’s no barrier to collaboration, thanks to the nudge from Buxton Festival Fringe. I hate to besmirch my record as a pessimist, but some dark clouds do have silver linings.