2020 has been a year--and it's only APRIL. I've seen many posts, articles, tweets, insta-stories start this way and I'm convinced that it still isn't a cliche. It feels especially heavy after the last three years that have felt like six years. There is little I can do about what's happening in the world, other than stay at home (please stay the fuck at home) and donate to organizations trying to get food, shelter, and protective gear to those in need. And so I've been trying to affect change to my world and to the worlds of people I care for deeply.
For myself, this past month has been a bit of a triumph--after nine years and many, many rewrites, I finished my novel. I've had "finished" drafts of it before but they were not even close to finished; they were just getting started. I credit the evolution of this novel to the classes I took at University of Washington and University of Glasgow, to reading the work of my peers and listening to their feedback during workshop, and a great deal to Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff, as well as advice she gave to me at a reading I attended. And really I am only done writing this for now. With any luck, this manuscript might be picked up by a contest or an agent and I'll be given a whole new set of notes and feedback and changes that need to be made. But for now, it's onto other projects. Because I need structure in my life, I created a quarantine syllabus for myself similar to the one I made when we lived in Scotland. It includes a list of books I should read, a goal for the number of short stories I want to write, and in a few months I'm going to start writing my second novel.
The other project I've had on my to-do list for a while is updating my travel archives. I find it humorous that my first instagram post of the year, and the decade, was reflecting on places I've been to and all the places I still had yet to see. I was contemplating where we might go this year. January Alli was optimistic. The answer is nowhere; we're going nowhere. But even that answer is short-sighted. I've decided to go back to some of those places.
When I re-built this site, a lot of the older content no longer met my own writing standards. The words didn't capture the experiences, didn't do justice to the great places I've had the privilege of visiting. Time to change that. Over the next few weeks I hope to add stories from places like Rome, Stockholm, Barcelona, and Dubrovnik to the site. I'll also be giving some love to Seattle. I'm missing a lot about my home city these days. Here's to making the best out of a strange and dark time.