Ta ta, 2021

Updated: Jun 3

I don’t know about you, but 2021 has been rollercoaster ride with so many ups and downs I’ve got whiplash.


Traditionally when my family and I gather together at Christmas we take some time to reflect on the past year and consider the things we’re grateful for—as well as the things we really could have done without. In that spirit of reflecting, I thought I’d share a few of those things with you today. So, let’s rip off the BandAid and start with the losses...


Losses

My job. Like many people in the wake of COVID-19, I was retrenched from my job. Through no fault of my own, I have now been unceremoniously kicked to the curb by no fewer than three employers since 2016. Apart from looking dismal on the resume, being ‘let go’ doesn’t make me feel all that great as a human being. Like many authors, I need to find work that gives me a steady income, but which still gives me enough time to write and/or study. Sessional teaching work is fantastic for this because it allows me to find a balance between work and creative practice.


However, in the wake of COVID-19, universities shut down courses and retrenched hundreds of staff. Unlike other industries, however, there was no government assistance for retrenched university employees. We were left to fend for ourselves. I’m lucky that I have family to support me, mentally and financially. I know there are plenty of people out there who aren’t so lucky, and my heart truly, truly goes out to them.


My mother. Goodness, it’s hard to write this… But at the same time, I need to write it. In late November, my dear old mamma passed away quickly and unexpectedly. She was kind and generous and was always there for me. She was smart, wickedly funny, and honest to a fault. I could always count on her to tell me the God’s honest truth about a new hair cut or a new outfit. We were very close, and she was always happy and ready to support me, no matter what kind of hare-brained scheme I was working on. It’s hard to believe I’m never going to see her again or talk to her again. She was a good person, so I know that wherever she is now, she’s in a good place.


Gains

My PhD. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll be well aware that I commenced my research degree at Federation University in June. Completing a PhD has been a long-time dream of mine, but securing a higher degree by research place, at any university, has been challenging, least of all because I was applying to universities when most were shutting down courses and retrenching staff. The odds were against me, that’s for sure, but I persevered and was eventually offered a place at Federation University.


My deal old mother was over the moon. She knew how badly I wanted to achieve this goal and was very excited for me. I am truly grateful to Federation University and the three fantastic supervisors who agreed to supervise my research project.


The Village Views. The Village Views project was conceptualised in the wake of my retrenchment from Victoria University (more about that later…) As a writer, it is literally my job to comment on things that affect us. So, with that in mind, I thought it would be fun to get a group of word slingers together to write about life in lockdown, after all, there’s hardly a person or country on the planet that hasn’t been affected by the pandemic in some way. I approached some of my former students, as well as some writer friends, if they’d like to participate in the project. Thankfully, most of them said yes.


The result of this project is a fantastic E-book and print-on-demand anthology and visual novel of flash fictions about life in lockdown. Some of the stories have been crafted in a realistic style. Others are whimsical or even magical. However, be warned: not all stories have happy endings. The E-book and print-on-demand versions will be available in early to mid January 2022. The visual novel will be available shortly after that.


Social Media. There’s an old saying that you may or may not have heard: If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. No problem. A couple of months ago, I got out of the proverbial kitchen that is social media, specifically Facebook (now hilariously rebranded as Meta in line with their planned world domination) for two reasons: 1) collectively, social media platforms are the greatest waste of time that have ever been invented, and 2) they are magnets for trolls and unsavoury types who hide behind anonymity and/or the relative safety of the internet in order to exercise their right to free speech in order to spew their ignorant, hate-filled bile all over others.


Now, some might say that abandoning social media is a dangerous move considering it is the now an expectation when promoting yourself or your work. But I’m no longer interested in investing my time in the digital realm in that way. And I’m certainly not interested in being yet another target for trolls and unsavoury elements. Now, I might be a little hypocritical here, and I own up to that, but I haven’t abandoned all social media platforms. I’ve still got profiles on Instagram (which I had before the Metaverse takeover), as well as LinkedIn, and Goodreads; however, I don’t use any of them very much.


But what have I gained from abandoning social media and has it been worth it? Yes. Resoundingly yes, it has been worth it because what I have gained is my sanity and my self-respect. Social media constantly prodded me to do better, be better. Needless to say, this wasn’t good for my mind, body, or soul, so I closed most of my social media accounts and now live a happier life that is no longer clouded in social media anxiety.


Here’s to a better New Year

I’m going to be honest and say that I’m not going to miss 2021. Despite the gains, I will be looking forward to putting 2021 firmly behind me. With luck, 2022 will offer a sense of much-needed normality.


So, with the holidays rapidly approaching, I’d like to say Happy Holidays and wish you a safe and Happy New Year!

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