[Read in your most guilt-laden “Mom” voice] “Oh, 2020. It’s not that we’re mad; we’re just disappointed and maybe a little sad.”

Scratch that, of course we’re mad, too. But rather than stew, let’s do the old superlative list to close out this dumpster fire year. It was a weird one here at the blog, but I’d say that’s par for the course.

2020 Most Viewed Post (heretofore known as MVP): Violence and Ascendance in Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend, likely owing to the fact that the popular Italian novelist had a very good year, releasing The Lying Life of Adults in the fall.

2020 Most Liked (you know, the popular girl): On *Not* Writing (with thanks to Stephen King) garnered 112 likes, so it seems I wasn’t the only one who was finding it hard to put pen to paper, this summer.

2020 Surprise Finisher (the scrappy underdog): for being a bummer of a post, The Dead Mom Club…and other lessons in grief got quite a bit of traction (172 views and 63 likes)–though I wish it hadn’t. Next year, let’s plan for “lessons in joy,” shall we?

Special shout-out to the WordPress Editors, who brought back WordPress Discover Prompts for the month of April. The one-word prompts helped me chronicle my family’s isolation at the beginning of the pandemic and also helped me connect with other bloggers–now friends. My most-viewed: my response to Day 2’s prompt, open: Open…water, heart, art

Top author interview was my 2020 two-parter with Sonja Livingston, Rochester NY native and award-winning memoirist. In addition to being a fantastic interview subject, Livingston’s latest book, The Virgin of Prince Street: Expeditions Into Devotion, was top on my list of favorite nonfiction reads, this year.

Top book review was my 2020 review of Pittsburgh-area native Margo Orlando Littell’s second novel, A Distance from Four Points. Telling a beautiful mother-daughter story, the setting of post-coal country, Pennsylvania, adds a gritty realness that makes this book a standout. Also, among the prettiest book covers of 2020, for sure!

Reading superlatives: I read more in translation in 2020 than any other blog year (there have been 4), concentrating on Moomin-famous Tove Jansson, whose literature for adults informs my current WIP, set partly in Finland. Favorite novel this year: Shiner by Amy Jo Burns. Favorite backlist novels: a three-way tie (I know, I’m pretty terrible at superlatives) between (the very different) The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent; The Golden State by Lydia Kiesling; and The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott, which I read with a book club. Favorite memoir: Rust: a memoir of steel and grit by ElieseColette Goldbach. As for poetry, I haven’t been reading many collections, but I have been getting good daily doses over at Parhelion. Poet Clay Matthews, especially, drew me in.

In other creative writing and editing news: I backburner-ed one novel in favor of concentrating on the new one (55K into draft 1–so I’m beginning to see the light). I’ll have exciting news from short story land early in the new year (woot!). And I’ve been trying my hand at a little essay writing, which has been a nice change. (I keep my About page up to date with my published pieces, if you’re interested.)

I was promoted to associate editor at Parhelion Literary Magazine, where I’m also the features editor. I was proud to help introduce 15 features to the world, including one by fellow blogger, Lani V. Cox, and a few I wrote myself. Not to mention three issues of the magazine, including the latest holiday issue, which has some fantastic fiction, flash, CNF, and poetry for your holiday enjoyment.

One of my fellow bloggers, over at You Can Always Start Now, is doing a #2021wordchallenge, and without really thinking about it, I lit on my word: still. Of course, there’s one of my favorite Christmas carols, “Still, still, still,” which might have been running through my head at the time. But more than that, “still” is a word of resilience. I’m still here, still writing and connecting. Which makes “still” a kind of promise. And then there’s the act of being still–of inviting silence and space for inspiration and creativity, whatever that looks like that day. I want more of that.

I wish for more of that–stillness in all its forms–for both of us, in 2021.

Meet me there.

~Rebecca

Interested in more Rust Belt author interviews, book reviews, essays, and more? Start here. Are we social? Find me at FB and on Twitter and IG @MoonRuark

*Header photo by Tairon Fernandez on Pexels.com

20 thoughts on “Weird Year Revisited: A 2020 Rust Belt Girl Roundup

    1. Thank you! I do enjoy the year-end wrap ups–they are all so different. And thank goodness for the WordPress stats page, because math is not my forte!

      If I can hold one word at the front of my brain–sort of a mini mantra–for 2021, it might help. I’m a distractable sort and am eyeball deep in a novel, so characters and stories are swirling in my mind all the time. I figure holding on to “still” might help me gain focus.

      Here’s wishing you health and happiness and lots of good words all in the right order this year!

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  1. Congratulations on so many levels for persevering through a challenging year. While not related directly to your blog efforts, you no doubt handled much with your boys and the challenges of schools being virtual too. I’m impressed with all that you did accomplish, WAY TO GO! Cheers, and hope to you and yours for a wonderful 2021.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Shelley. It never feels like enough accomplished–but writing it all out definitely helps put things into perspective. I hope you enjoyed your NYE and that 2021 brings you and your family many good things–and lots of (in person) hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice roundup. And thanks for including me 🙂 You’re the second blogger to remind me of how wonderful it was to connect with new blogger friends in April when WP did the month long challenge.

    I want another one, a challenge for each month for 2021 because I find myself focusing on other projects and the blog needs something, right?

    Anyway, I’ll refer to this post when I need more reading ideas. Looking forward to your good news. Happy January 2021! xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lani!

      Yes, I really enjoyed the WP prompts in April. Just what I–and my blog–needed. Otherwise, it’s too easy to get stuck in a blogging rut. I want another challenge, too. (Hear that, WP editors? ha.)

      Happy New Year! xo

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy New Year, Rebecca! I’ve been pondering a word for 2021 and when I finally pick one, I’ll write a post about it. I like picking a word for the year. It gives me something to strive for. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy New Year, Lisa! Hope you and your guys had fun last night. I cleaned, while drinking (a little) sparkling wine–I mean, anything to make vacuuming festive. But really I didn’t want to start 2021 doing chores, so today is mine! Hope your year is off to a good start. Yes, I love the idea of a word to focus on for the year. I’m hoping mine gives me a little focus to accomplish one thing–I tend to be a little scattered. Good luck finding your word!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Yesssss. Here’s to being still. And still here! I enjoyed seeing your year in review and went back to refresh myself on your best-performing posts. Excited to see what you’ve got coming out! Happy end-of-2020. Oh happy day!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Happy New Year, Rebecca! I always enjoy reading your posts & get some great reading and writing ideas from you! Wishing you much writing success this 2021 (excited to learn of your short story news!!!). I’m keeping this comment brief, but I’ll end with this: As they say, Keep on keepin’ on! 🤗 Oh, also: Congratulations re: Parhelion! A great, well-deserved honor!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hope your 2021 is off to a great start, Deb, and thank you for being here! I think I already announced my short story pub news over on Twitter, so you’re in the know. Definitely “keepin’ on” over here. You inspire me with all your writing success–I’m getting ready to head over to Twitter to read your latest pubbed story!

      Like

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