My Favourite Things: 2020

For the past few years, I have begun my annual favourite things post by talking about what a hard year it has been and how glad I am it’s over. You would not be wrong in expecting me to start this year’s post the same way. After all, it is 2020. But although it’s been a difficult year (perhaps the most difficult), I have found much for which I am grateful.

My small family has always been close. We’re separated from our relatives by continents and oceans, and so used to celebrating holidays alone. To being three of us against the world. We didn’t, therefore, find isolation all too hard. We had moments of friction, as all families do, but I’ve never been more grateful for my husband and daughter. We held each other up this year. We forgave more easily, learned to communicate more clearly, and have almost mastered the art of letting each other exist in their own space for a while. (Or I have. Sometimes.)

I’ve also been amazed and delighted by the joy others have found over the past year. The news has often been universally bad, and yet someone, somewhere, has always had something to share. The wonder of small things has never been more true. 

The other aspect of being home all year has been more time to devote to my hobbies. And what I read and watched and listened to is a reflection of that. 

As always, we’ll start with what I read.

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What I’ve Been Reading

The #WritersRead prompt for November was: a book debut author. Bryan Washington isn’t a debut author, but Memorial is his first novel, so I’ve decided it counts. Also, I really want to talk about it.

Memorial was my November Book of the Month Club selection, and I picked it because it reminded me of the beautiful movie, Lilting. I also really enjoy stories about people who wouldn’t choose to spend time together. This is that, twice over.

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What I’ve Been Reading

The #WritersRead prompt for September was: a book I wished I’d read in school. I’ve written before about books I’d like to see on high school reading lists. It’s a subject I’m passionate about, so I was determined to read something I really, really wished had been recommended back when I was in school.

When I researched current high school reading recommendations, I was pleasantly surprised to find a more diverse list than what I’d expected. Although there were titles I’d replace (ugh, Nathaniel Hawthorne, I both love and hate you), there were several exciting choices. I’d just about settled on The Underdogs by Mariano Azuela when a title farther down caught my eye—A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute.

I was born in Australia but attended high school in the United States. My knowledge of Australian history and culture, therefore, has gaps. I grabbed a copy of Alice from the Free Library of Philadelphia and started to read. Half an hour later, the app I use to read library books posted an alert: The Bridge by Bill Konigsberg was ready for me to borrow.

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Flash Fiction: Hunger and Socks

A lot of my flash fiction is stored on a tumblr blog. I fell out of the habit of using tumblr before they started censoring my fun but sometimes head over there to scroll through my old posts. There are nearly 50 slices of story there, many of them ideas for something greater.

I’ve been transplanting my favourites here and I was surprised to note that neither of these two had made it over yet. I love these stories. “Hunger” because it’s creepy and didn’t start out that way. The idea in my head when I first looked at the picture disappeared as soon as I started to write, the story below happening instead. “Socks” is me at my sentinmental best.

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Flash Fiction: “88 Days” and “Mine”

I used to write a lot of flash fiction, at least one piece a week. Last year, when I wasn’t writing anything, people suggested I try flash fiction again and I thought about it but didn’t get very far. This year, now that I am writing again, I have the urge to flash.

I will be keeping my clothes on. 😉

I find it interesting that creativity seems to spark creativity and for me, writing small follows writing large. But I do remember that what I used to love about writing flash fiction was the break it offered my novelling brain. For an hour on Monday morning, I could step out of the universe that was all but consuming me and think about something else for a while. In another direction. Usually in a post-apocalyptic direction. 

We’re not going to talk about why the first two pieces I’ve written in two years are set after some sort of apocalypse. We’re just going to roll with it. “88 Days” is inspired by Fear the Walking Dead only in that the picture reminds me of the LA neighborhood where the series starts. The story is original, or as original as anything post-apocalyptic gets. “Mine” is a return to the world of “Reminders”, this time consciously. I searched for an image that would take me there as I’ve always been fascinated by this world and wanted to explore it further. Continue reading “Flash Fiction: “88 Days” and “Mine””