Wednesday, December 30, 2020

goodbye 2020, the year in review

There is some I could write about the pre-covid year, which was moving at a crazy pitch and reaching a definite breaking point of understaffing at work, but also included an unusually busy social calendar.  The last movie I saw in a theatre-- Parasite on a frigid Valentines Day.  The last dinner out --a brewery bar in Evanston that possibly gave J food poisoning in late February. In the week's before lockdown, I plucked the King Cake baby in the middle of a staff meeting and thought it boded well for my NEA application I'd completed that very morning (dear reader, it did not.) But there were zine workshops and art opening panels and hiring committees, and then basically a full-stop, heads down on desks. It took a week or so staring in horror at the news to recalibrate, and  I can't say I have completely.  While my inner introvert loved working from home and hanging out with the cats, the more I did it, the more I feared and dreaded the outside. Feared the world itself and all its bad decisions. To cope, I watched disaster movies, good and bad--apocalypse scenarios for every taste (zombies, aliens, meteors.) I saw no one but my boyfriend, an occasional outdoor drive-by from my bestie bearing things like birthday cake and booze, and made two visits to Rockford in late summer/early fall to see my dad & sister. Outside of a sparse, socially distanced group of co-workers, this has mostly been my entire social circle for months. Again, my inner introvert is down with this, but I do occasionally miss conversations over dinner and movie-going which are nice breaks from the usual solitude. 


It's probably a good thing I went back to work in July, and though cautious, being in the world helped manage my fear and anxiety a little (and with things in the library slower and part of the staffing problems remedied, the workday was better than we left it). There wasn't really time for freaking out and the usual structures and routines returned.  There were reserves to be processed and ILL materials sent out, but everything slower and less hectic. Though I was probably in more danger commuting and moving about in the world, it felt less like I was. Or the fear was more manageable.  Library project-wise, while not the banging year I'd hoped,  but I was getting pretty decent at transitioning exhibits and programming for the library into a virtual endeavor and experimenting with online formats. I wrote an article about it in the spring and it all bodes well for future programs, even once we're back to normal. There was a also an ILA poster session and a profile at LIBRAS to round out the professional year. But also tinged by fears of academia free-fall during covid and what that means for the people who work there, especially when we were off-site and less indespensible. 

press & studio things

I spent a good portion of summer and into fall playing catch up on orders for some titles that had been languishing since the studio move and subsequent chaos.  I started the year woefully behind on shipping and with too many new releases to navigate well, so have been whittling away at the backlog the past few months and decreasing the shipping times on newer books (and in fact, slowed new releases completely, which I will be struggling to catch up early this year for the stragglers, but at least order processing times will be better, when they are out, which is something.)  It's harder though, in a year where my concentration is everywhere. my moods unstable,  to fixate on the things I used to thrive, to perform the detail work like layouts and cover designs so I am going a bit slower in these things than I used to. Sometimes, I lose my commitment to sparkle motion. Sometimes, I wonder if it's worth it, but then remember how important the independent press is, let alone a feminist series, and I feel like it's necessary to keep going.  To remember that quote about knowing when to rest, and that resting is not quitting. This year, has been a lot of rest, but next year, I am coming for you. Many of my abandoned goals had to do with shop offerings and other fun little paper things and zines, so these are on the docket for 2021 as well. 

creative work

Despite some very particular things I haven't been able to do--to read fiction or concentrate on visual art things or detail work, I was eventually able to write, and this may be what has saved my brain endless doomscrolling and unravelling.  Despite my carefully laid out sketchbook/planner, the only goals I actually managed to hit have to do with that endeavor.  And it's pretty much the only thing that keeps 2020 from being an entire wash, at least in things that matter the most .  While spring was slow, summer and early fall was very productive, and I managed to rough draft a new book project in under a year (collapsologies). I also compiled & submitted another manuscript in early summer (animal, vegetable, monster) and got another one print-ready (and soon to be available)  this fall on my own (feed).  There are other things in the hopper still, including two other partial manuscripts I'd like to finish in 2021. 

And of course, sex & violence was launched by Black Lawrence in June, and actually seemed to be selling pretty well. It spurred me to create my first book trailer and video poems, which have been a huge enjoyable thing when everything else seems dreary.  Late summer and fall brought many small projects, e-zines and sometimes paper zines for the summer house, eleanor and the tiny machines, the poet's zodiac, exquisite damage, licorice, laudaunum, bloom, and overlook.  Also re-issues of paper things digitally like necessary violence and dreams about houses and bees.

I didn't have any submission goals proper, but I did have occasional bursts of activity, and managed to land some pieces from new projects in some journals--Pedestal, The Account, Tupelo Quarterly, Jet Fuel Review, Rogue Agent, and Stirring. (and one forthcoming soon in Pretty Owl Poetry.) In addition, I started my Paper Boat newsletter, set up my Patreon, and navigated the territory of how to actually make money as an artist but also make considerable content available for free (I'll let you know when I figure this out.) Also formed some shifting opinions on what matters and doesn't matter when it comes to writing and art. What I want, and how to take steps to get it. 

While it feels like a year that was not really a real year--no real summer, no real holidays. Also terribly long, but also somehow breakneck quick, like rubber band that pulls and snaps. At the same time interminable and vanishing as fast as it appears.  So here's to 2021, may you be better all around, even if it takes a while to get there. 

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