Today in my diary I’ve written that I want to post my last blog before Christmas. For the last seven days I’ve been isolating with my toddler and so my brain has been taken up with making train tracks, cutting out snowflakes (flowsnakes) and playing ‘kicky ball’ outside to use up some energy. Right now I’ve been granted a tiny window of my own to do something for myself. So here I am, sat at the computer, wondering what on earth I can say about this year.
I need to plan my last workshop of the year for this evening (I think a writing game would be suitable). I’m going to read from Kae Tempest’s On Connection and think about how creativity connects us and how, in many ways, this has been a year of connections, despite being far away from each other. Other than that, I’m not really sure what I want to say.
Simpler times – this huge crowd of people now seems more impressive than this ingenious gingerbread construction.
Of course, this year has been beyond anything I could have imagined when I had friends over for New Year last year. We drank homemade espresso martinis and ate so much food we almost missed midnight. All I knew of the approaching year was that I would be teaching creative writing to my A Level students and that my daughter would turn three. None of us could imagine what would happen next. But dwelling on the wider issues of the world is something that many will be doing in many places and I doubt I can offer much insight here.
Personally, it’s felt like a series of intense and unusual chunks of time. First there was Lockdown One – hidden away in my in-laws house in France for so long I had vertigo the first time I got back into a car. Then a weird stop-gap where I lived alone in my London flat and went to an empty school to supervise vulnerable sixth formers. If anything the summer holidays were the most ‘normal.’ Limited restrictions meant I could at least see some friends, my daughter had some time in nursery and I gathered myself for what was to come. Then, the weirdest (in some ways) time started.
Snow in March was nowhere near the weirdest thing about 2020…
Since September I haven’t been teaching. No more colleagues, no more boisterous groups of teenagers segmenting my day into chunks of time ruled by a bell. Add to that the fluctuating restrictions on seeing other people and it’s probably the least sociable I’ve ever been in my entire life. I’ve also probably written more than I have since I was doing my Masters and had more people coming to this blog since I started it back in 2011. Having just checked, I’ve also realised that this is my 200th blog post. Never have I dedicated so much time to building my presence online, to writing, to creative endeavours. That would have been weird enough, without a pandemic.
But where to leave this post, how to summarise or come up with something witty and clever or at least thoughtful, to try and make sense of it all? What I keep coming back to is how much writing this blog has helped through all the messy chaos that was this year.
Here’s my 2011 self at an ironic tea party for the royal wedding.
I suppose I’d like to say thank you. This blog started out as an education/writing hybrid (this was my first ever post) and I posted a massive two posts in 2012. I then started book reviews in 2013, reached what I thought was my peak when Margaret Atwood commented on my blog in 2015, and reached another noticeable gap when I had a baby back in 2017. Writing this blog gives me what all writers want – an audience. It’s grown and shrunk and grown again. As I peer through the clouds to wonder what might be looming around the corner in 2021, I know there will be this.
Me, sharing my thoughts with you. And you, taking a little bit of time out of your day to have a read. It’s certainly helped me get through the weirder and more upsetting parts of this year and I hope it’s done the same for you.
Stay safe and keep reading.