I’ve survived. I think that’s a fairly accurate summary of 2021. It has not been the all-out catastrophe that was 2020, or even the minefield of 2019, but instead, more of a quiet struggle to keep on an even keel as the world continues to fall apart around me. But I’ve built up some resilience, thanks to NHS-funded therapy and a gradual acceptance that this is probably what life is now, so I’d better make the most of it while I can.
So in that vein, there were a few things I accomplished this year and a few things to be proud of, believe it or not.
I finished a D&D campaign that I had written completely myself, based around a dragon who’s poaching significant figures from their place in time and placing them in a living museum. Ironically, I did this about 12 months before the Fizban’s book came out, which would have been extremely helpful, but what’s done is done. I’ve had a lot of fun playing D&D over the years, but this is perhaps the most joyous campaign yet – ostensibly thanks to good company, even if we did have to do most of it over Discord. It also gave me purpose in a time that was sorely lacking it – I needed to write the next chapter of the adventure each week, I needed to be ready to run it every week. There was no time for losing myself in panic when I had shit to do.
I also tentatively started a novel towards the end of the year. It’s very, very early stages and like many other projects, has the potential to peter out without significant deadlines in place but it’s a start. I took part in the Writer’s HQ Write a Tiny Novel challenge and that really gave me a kick up the arse – I’ve definitely been missing community when it comes to writing. My university days are almost 10 years behind me (and isn’t that terrifying) but I miss having that feeling of camaraderie. I’ve signed up to the 12-month WHQ membership in an effort to give myself some accountability, so we’ll see how that goes. Hopefully, that threat of wasting money (after all, I am of northern stock) will shift me into gear.
Like many years, I’ve tried to read as much as possible, and this year, I’m up to 74 books, surpassing my original target of 60. Books have always been an escape – according to my mum, I was devouring books with words at the tender age of two – and I’ve needed that more than ever. I’ve mostly read new things, but a few old favourites have cropped up too. I can’t wait for the next Locked Tomb book to rear its head, and I’ve really been diving deep into my Star Wars Extended Universe, because I’m nothing if not predictable.
Of course there are still things to aim for. We got a cross trainer and while I did pretty well with it in the summer, I’ve gone into hibernation mode this winter, so I really need to pick that back up. I actually need to continue writing the book, and setting myself appropriate deadlines – here’s hoping the aforementioned WHQ membership will help with that. I’ve got better at not staring at my phone, but there’s always more I can do. And it’s all too easy to slip out of connection with people – so I’m going to try my best to keep up with those important to me.
Also, I drastically failed at The Year of the Vamp. Maybe if we’d had more lockdowns and a better stock of videos on Amazon Prime, who knows.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a round-up without me listing a few of the things I’ve enjoyed most this year, so here’s what I’ve been into in 2021. Obviously, not all of it is from 2021 (Type O Negative definitely) but it’s what’s been getting me through.
AFI – Bodies; Creeper – American Noir; Quicksand – Distant Populations; Hayley Kiyoko – I’m Too Sensitive for This Shit; Type O Negative – October Rust
Podcasts (yes, this is the year I discovered podcasts)
Take A Look Around; I Don’t Even Own A Television; Dragon Talk; SmartLess
A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine; Nothing I Do Is Funny Anymore by Rose Damian; The Lady from the Black Lagoon by Mallory O’Meara; the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson; Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
Ghost of Tsushima (PS5); Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (PS5); The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Switch); God of War (PS4); Mass Effect Legendary Edition (PS4); Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (PS5)
Black Widow; Dune; My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission; Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings; Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans
What We Do In the Shadows; Hawkeye; The Mandalorian; Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba; Future Man