2020—The year I learned I really do want to be a writer when I grow up
It seems like the only time I blog these days is when I'm doing a blog hop with my buddies Deb, Kerrie, and Jami.
Since we hadn't done a hop since before the pandemic, we decided we couldn't ignore the elephant in the room. We could go with how much 2020/2021 sucked or how much it didn't. For me, it was a little of both, but I count myself lucky to say the scale tipped more to the side of "it didn't."
Ah, Covid-19 pandemic. Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.
As much as it pained me to see my kids losing out on hanging out with friends, getting in-person instruction, playing team sports, and generally getting to be carefree kids, the initial lockdown and subsequent staying at home was a blessing, family-wise. We got to eat a home-cooked dinner together every night, at the same time—no small feat during certain sports/band/choir seasons when everyone is on a different schedule and most of our dinners come in a bag. Strangely, we did start missing the taste of that greasy food from a bag, so as soon as the lockdown was over we did make it a point to get takeout often and try to support the way too many businesses that were struggling. My family watched a movie together every night. We played games. We raised puppies. We grew closer without even having to try, and that was an amazing gift, especially since my first child goes off to college in two short months.
Speaking of puppies, we got not one, but two little furry bundles of joy during the pandemic. We got our sweet Ruby, an American Bully mix, from the Humane Society the night before the March lockdown, because what better time to get a puppy than when everyone is home 24/7? Nothing brings more joy than a new puppy, and honestly, it gave us something to do. The hourly potty breaks, the feedings and treats, the sweet snuggles—it’s such a cliché, but she really did rescue us instead of the other way around. Our two older dogs were happy enough with the introduction of a new pet—our Golden, especially, who quickly became Ruby’s new mommy—but it was kind of hard for them at the age of 10 to keep up with an energetic pup. Goldie ended up passing suddenly in the fall, and it was a tough loss. She was the smiley, happy, always wanting to be petted and loved dog, and her absence created a huge void.
I needed that perma-smiling, fluffy presence back in my life, so we started looking for our next baby. I very nearly got taken for $900 by a puppy scam website, which is a terrible and too-common result of the pandemic—people preying on the fact that everyone was adding dogs to their family and had to resort to online transactions for the bulk of their purchases. Luckily my husband and his team of computer nerds figured out the site was bogus before I made the payment. The real problem was, we had our hearts set on a Samoyed and there aren’t a lot of (real) Samoyed breeders out there. You want a puppy? You have to put your name in when the momma dog is pregnant, which means you’ve got months to wait. My heart didn’t have months to wait.
Enter Holly, the sweetest dog I’ve ever met.
She wasn’t even supposed to be ours. Someone else had already spoken for her, but two weeks before she was supposed to go to her furever home, the person had a change of circumstance and couldn’t take her. I just happened to be scouring Facebook THAT DAY as a last-ditch effort of looking for available Samoyeds, and I came across a post only 2 hours old that said a little girl Sammy pup named “Miss Orange” was available, and only a few hours from our house. I called the lady immediately, hoping I wasn’t too late. I wasn’t. I secured my pup and only had to wait a couple of weeks to go pick her up. She couldn’t have fit in better with my other dogs and my family, and Ruby is ecstatic to have a little sister to play with…although at 9 months old, Holly is now way bigger than little Ruby. That doesn’t stop them from being best pals.
So back to the point of this story—how did I figure out writing was my passion during this shitshow? Let’s back up to the summer of 2019, in which I became a partner in a local coffeehouse. For years I’d dreamed of owning a coffeehouse, and everything happened to align for me to take this opportunity to fulfill that dream. Things were great. We even opened a second location just before Thanksgiving, and it was taking off.
Then came the pandemic.
Seriously. What are the odds I open a new coffeehouse in the literal worst time in the history of history?
In the best of times, running a food service business is tough. Running one during Covid was the stuff of nightmares. From losing business to covering extra shifts for quarantined employees to food shortages (we were limited to 6 gallons of milk per grocery order—how the @#%$ is a @#%$ing coffeehouse supposed to work with that little of our #2 most used product?) to too many other ridiculous and unforeseen obstacles to list, we worked hard to keep the place afloat. And we did. It was one of the hardest and most demanding jobs I ever had, but I loved it.
The only problem was that with putting in so many hours, I had to put something in my life on the back burner. My writing ended up being that thing. It was always the last thing on my list of things to get done…which meant it never got done.
Maybe it was a good thing I took a writing break during 2020. I felt a loss of focus and a slump in creativity from expelling the effort to simply exist, so I can’t imagine my writing would have been that great in the first place. But it still kept calling me. I craved sitting down and creating stories, worlds, and characters, even though none were popping and brewing in my head as they always had before. I wanted to shut out reality and dive into a story like I used to, forgetting about meals and my endless list of household chores, resurfacing hours later thinking I’d only been at it for minutes. But I didn’t have that kind of time. I finally sat myself down and took a good look at what I really wanted out of life.
I wanted to write.
So, I decided to do just that. I gave up my stake in the coffeehouse and went back to full-time writing. Let me tell you, it is liberating to be back doing what I love most. And I know it’s the right job for me because it’s the only job I’ve ever wanted (needed!) to go back to after quitting. I finished a novel I’d been working on before the coffeehouse venture—I was about 90% finished with it a couple of years ago, and just couldn’t get that last 10% written until I was back and fully immersed in the flow again. I’ve also started writing a new series of cozy mysteries set in the Hilton Head/Bluffton, South Carolina area, my very favorite place in the world.
I’m going to hit you with a cliché again, but clichés are cliché for a reason—because they’re true: I’m doing what I love and loving what I do.