The year began with me recovering from a bout of flu caught while substituting at Bush Middle School. I had thought it would be the end of me. But, no. I managed to survive. It left me feeling that no mere virus could get the better of me.
Oh, foolish and overly simple me! I had no idea what was coming. I had decided to write a novel set in a residential nudist park in South Texas that I knew nudists from but had never actually visited.
I discovered that my financial situation was headed for disaster if I didn’t earn enough money from substitute teaching. I was trying to pay off my Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and I was committed to paying $2000 dollars worth of our ever-increasing property tax. I wouldn’t be able to earn the money in time to avoid late fees, which meant I needed to earn even more extra money.
I dug down deep and found myself able to substitute teach to the full extent my doctor and the Texas Teacher Retirement System would allow. I was really hitting my stride and enjoying teaching again. I met a couple of kids in classes I subbed for that connected so well, I used them as inspiration for a few things in the novel I was writing, A Field Guide to Fauns. The novel practically wrote itself.
I published it. But it was about naked people. So a majority of people who might be fooled into reading one of my books will never read this one.
I was looking forward, after teaching so much that I could pay off the tax only one month late, to making more money I might actually be able to put in savings for a few minutes. But March ended all hope of that.
The long Covid imprisonment began with one novel published and one more, my AeroQuest rewrite, being more than halfway along.
I found myself with way more time to write and do other stuff than I had anticipated. But, of course, little money to do anything but survive with.
I definitely understood Kurt Vonnegut better in very short order.
I had a chance to reread a LOT of my own writing.
I gave some of my own books a careful reread and proofreading, even updating the content on Amazon. I began collecting my best posts from my daily blog. I put it in book form, becoming not one, but two collections of autobiographical essays.
My quest to put all my teacher recollections, goofy humor and cartoons, and philosophical wacky-waxings into some kind of order, allowed me to get a real sense of the overview of my life as both a teacher and a writer.
But, not only did my number two son get a job with the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department as a jailor, but he got Covid in July as well from his job.
Not only did my number one son find a serious relationship with an excellent young lady, but he was forced to stay away from us and limit contact to the point he almost became a stranger.
And not only did my father’s Parkinson’s Disease get worse, it killed him in midsummer during a surge in the pandemic that meant only my mother and two sisters could actually be at the funeral.
But, in spite of setbacks, I managed to stay Covid-free and read and write way more than is probably good for any human man.
I published or re-published six books during 2020. It is an accomplishment that reflects a fear of imminent death and loss of any further chance to make my writing real, not just foolish fantasies and dreams trapped in my stupid head.
So, what has 2020 done to me?
It has made me fearful of the future. It took away enough of my health that I will never be able to stand in front of a classroom ever again. And it took my father away.
But it has also galvanized me with the heat of the struggle to survive. It has made me more careful, and more appreciative of what life is, and especially more determined to have more of it.