Business Musings: 2021 (A Process Blog)

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Unless things go horribly wrong in the next two days—and this being 2020, that’s entirely possible—we will make it to 2021. As my Pearls Before Swine Day-To-Day Calendar reminded me this week, the change of year is an arbitrary construction that we imbue with great meaning.

I looked at that cartoon and thought, I don’t fucking care. I can’t wait until 2021 gets here.

Once that happens, of course, I’ll be waiting for the final election of this cycle, and then inauguration day, and some personal milestones that will come in January, and the annual countdown of things to look forward to begins. Again.

Like any normal year, only not.

Because mixed in that is the as-yet unknown day when I’ll get my first vaccine, and then the day that will occur either 21 or 28 days later when I get my second vaccine. And maybe, just maybe, there will be a day in 2021 when someone will declare Nevada or the U.S. Covid-free, a day in which we won’t have to approach our neighbors with trepidation, a day when I don’t have to remind someone who tries to get on our building’s elevator that “Hey, if you’re getting on this, you’ll need a mask.”

The things that I’m hoping for in 2021 are very different from the things I hoped for on the way into 2020. Which, for the record, I knew was going to be a difficult year. I just never imagined how difficult.

I also knew that our lives needed to change, that we needed to chuck the world that the World War II generation built, because it’s no longer relevant.

It had some good things, things I remember with nostalgia. But it was also misogynistic and racist and very rich-white-guy centric. Those rich white guys believed they knew how the rest of us needed to live, if they saw us at all. Those who didn’t count—generally people of color or from the LGBTQ+ community or poor people or people who didn’t go to the right schools or had some physical handicap or, or, or—well, they could be ignored—and usually were.

But I kept watching as bits and pieces of that world floated away, and the rest of it remained, held tightly in the grip of the people it hurt the most.

I saw that just this morning on my Twitter feed, as a new(ish) traditional writer with mostly media tie-in credentials, sniffed loudly at the advice I offer on this blog, dismissing it as something written by a “self-published” writer because he didn’t want the message to go in. He didn’t want to contemplate the things I mentioned as something that could apply to him.

And he’s precisely the kind of traditionally published writer I wish would listen. He’s published a few books, one critically acclaimed, and several tie-in novels (for which he is being paid 1/10th what I got paid for the same kind of novels years ago).

I didn’t respond, even though he clearly wanted me to. I used to, ten years ago, when writers dismissed me as someone who had no “real” publishing experience. Sadly, those writers—to a person—no longer have careers.

This guy won’t either, if he keeps on this path. Okay, that’s not fair. He’ll have a career—it just won’t be in publishing. Or maybe he’ll manage a book every few years, for which he’ll get paid pennies. And that’s all.

Such writers no longer make me feel sad. I know what’s coming for them. I blogged about it for a goodly portion of 2020, and next week (unless there’s major news), I’ll have more on my review of 2020. (If you want to read all of the posts, go to my Patreon page.)

That review of 2020 marks the end of my look at 2020. I’m done with this damn year. Come 12:01 on January 1, 2021, I’ll put my 2020 calendars away, and step into the new year.

Yes, the New Year is a construct that we have imbued with hope. So what? Sometimes we need as much hope as we can get.

As you review 2020, look at what you’ve accomplished in this unbelievably tough year. Any accomplishment is worth noting. Make a list of what you have completed.

If you can’t stand to look back—and believe me, I get that—then find one thing to look forward to in 2021. Some of you will find many things, but some of you, who’ve had experienced a year from hell inside the year from hell, might find it hard to look forward at all.

Just take it one day at a time. One project at a time. One dream at a time. Eventually, you’ll wonder how you made it through this dark season, because it’ll be a distant memory. As a friend of mine said on his Facebook page, one day, you’ll put on a coat, reach in the pocket and find a mask. What a strange time that was, you’ll think, as you put the mask away.

Right now, though, as we stand on the precipice of a new year, one that will see the destruction wrought in 2020 turn into real and lasting change, I wanted to acknowledge something.

If you are reading this, you have survived the most difficult year in our (collective) lifetimes. You’ve managed to find your way through the days, live your life, educate your children, take care of your loved ones, and continue writing and publishing and dreaming.

By writing and publishing and dreaming, you have acted courageously. Believing in the future is always a courageous act in any year. Believing in the future in this year, well, that’s particularly courageous. You’ve looked beyond the death and destruction, and continued to hope for a better world.

We have a lot of grieving to do. We have a lot of repair to start. We need to be kind to our fellow humans. We also need to donate, if we can, to food banks and other charities, because as hard as this year has been on all of us, it has been particularly cruel to many of us.

But we can do all of that as we take care of ourselves. As we take small steps toward a future that we all believe (or maybe just hope) will be brighter than the present we’re living in.

There’s a vaccine on the horizon. There are parties to go to and concerts to hear and theater to see. There’s a lot of living ahead, provided we continue to mask up, stay socially distant right now, and stick to our own family units.

If we do those things, we’ll get out of this mess earlier in 2021 than we would if we don’t.

I do have one other thing to say:

Thank you. Thank you for reading these posts. Thank you for commenting. Thank you for sharing them. Thank you for challenging me. Thank you for supporting the blog with your donations. Thank you for sending me articles and comments and your thoughts.

Thank you for being there through this tough year.

You made it easier to survive 2020.

And for that, you have my gratitude—always.

“Business Musings: Title,” copyright © 2020 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Image at the top of the blog copyright © Can Stock Photo / orkidia.

12 thoughts on “Business Musings: 2021 (A Process Blog)

  1. Thank you for everything you’ve posted in 2020. Because of it, combined with my own health issues, I’ve reached the point of accepting the reality that a standard employer/employee life is simply no longer feasible. Add in SSDI not being sufficient to handle all my immediate needs, and I’m left with resuming the path I defined for myself 50 years ago and work on becoming a better writer. You’ve inspired me to make a more consistent effort, especially in the past month. Now, it’s turning to 2021 and building on those small pieces of progress. I already have one story that I’ll be looking to place in a traditional setting, and am already developing general plans for an ebook short story collection, maybe as early as this fall. Thank you again, and may we all work toward adapting and moving forward in the coming year and beyond.

  2. Thank you, Kris, for everything. For being a mentor, and a friend, and often a voice of reason in the face of this shitstorm of a year. For me, I survived this year and that will be enough. I’ve rediscovered my love of writing non-fiction, I managed to hit the goal of a new Patreon post every week since I launched in August, sometimes even getting in an extra essay or two, and the fiction is starting to trickle back in.
    As you said, I need hope. However much I can get, in whatever fashion I can get it. If I can just have hope, the rest will follow. The changes you mentioned, the positives, have given me a glimmer of hope and I am letting that light open up my world.
    This year I survived. Next year I will survive, and I will hope. That’s enough to sustain me right now.
    Thank you, my friend, for being part of that survival, and that hope.

    1. I’d like to second what Flying Kris says – thank you, Kris, for being here for us! This was a humdinger of a year and even though 2021 is just a number, I hold high hope that it will be a better one.

  3. Here in Australia it’s 2021 already, and nothing big has changed, but I think some of the blinkers that helped create the /world/ of 2020 are being thrown away. And that gives me hope. That hope was triggered by a short conversation I had two days ago with the delivery driver who brings my supermarket orders [we remain in strict isolation due to health reasons].

    The driver was a nice bloke in his mid-forties, white, probably not the best educated person around and yet, as we yelled at each other from a safe distance, I discovered that he agrees with me about the need for a hard lockdown to stop the virus in its tracks. Why is this so amazing? Because not so long ago, a small but vocal group of similar people were protesting /against/ the lockdowns that saved my state [Victoria] and brought our infection rate down from 700 per day to…zero.

    Some people will never allow their beliefs to be questioned. They will never allow themselves to change, but they are becoming less and less relevant. For all its faults, 2020 has opened people’s eyes to possibilities that were deemed ‘too hard’ before. We can work from home, we can care for each other, our kids can learn online, we can keep in touch via zoom and other social media, we can survive without all the bells and whistles that used to be ‘necessary’. We can change the world for the better if we have to. That gives me a sense of optimism I haven’t felt for quite a while. I like it. 🙂

    Stay safe and well, Kristine, and thank you for teaching me so much about this crazy world of publishing. 2021 – onwards and upwards!

  4. I just finished reading “Evil Geniuses” by Kurt Andersen.

    He assembled most of the things I have seen over the past fifty years, and I now see how they all fit together. I lived through most of it, seeing it happen, and did not understand the background tactics. What’s interesting to me is that the book is basically being ignored, rather than triggering the firestorm that I expected.

    I think that you will find the book interesting. “Interesting” in the same sense as watching a jumbo jet crash into a speeding commuter train, kind of “interesting.”

    BTW, watch this first video in Julie Nolke’s series of four. The final one is where she thinks things are going to be okay now.

    Boy, is she in for a surprise.

    Explaining the Pandemic to my Past Self

    1. Thanks. I watched the first one, back in June, and thought how well done it was. Then I watched the second one a few weeks ago, and actually had a bad reaction. Had to shut it down because I knew we’re not even close to done yet. Sigh. Those videos will be a great record.

      1. I watched all four videos as they came out, and watched them all as I went along, so it becomes easier? to watch them. I suspect that there will be many more visits from Future Julie, because despite Julie from December thinking that it’s all over, there are many more things coming up.

        The things that happen only make sense looking back. Past Julie can never comprehend Future Julie, even if she tried to speak with clarity.

        The videos are a useful reminder of how time travel works, and that you can’t really warn the Past. Because unless you have lived the events you cannot “understand” them before they happen. That’s why the phrase, “Everything is clearer in hindsight” really does apply.

        That’s why “Evil Geniuses” was so shocking when I read about what happened in such blatant terms, all the events happening in clear sight, only we were not looking at all of the pieces.

  5. It’s funny. Looking over the year, I managed, starting the end of June, to write every day, and am within sight of 120k words for the year (whether I get there or not depends on how much I write today). Something clicked during a virtual write-in back in June and I’ve kept going. And the last time I broke 100k for the year was in 2015.

    And meeting my grandson in 2020 means I can’t quite dismiss the year, too. 😉

    Thank you for your encouraging and informative posts. And for reminding us to find the good, even in the dumpster fire that was 2020. Looking forward to what you’ll share with us in 2021.

  6. A wedding for our middle child by zoom will forever mark this as a good year. I got a lot of writing done (a lot for me), though didn’t manage to finish what I’m working on.

    Wishing you and Dean a wonderful New Year’s celebration, and a great new year writing.

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