I don’t know how I feel about summarizing this past year–2021. In some bizarre time anomaly that is the current state of things, it simultaneously feels like I was just reluctantly typing my 2020 in Review and as if 2021 alone spanned five normal years. I am not sure how time can sprint by in a blur while raking in painful slow motion. Yet, here we are.

2020 was simple and easy to review. It was shit. 2021, however, was more complicated as so much continued to be messy and challenging while other components attempted to limp back toward “normalcy.” I found myself weak and damaged.

Floundering is a good word that comes to mind. Yet I did flounder through, and when I look back from a more pragmatic hindsight, I can see progress, accomplishments, and healing mingled with my struggles.

When I compare 2021 to 2020, I can truly appreciate the highlights. Right now (and in this post), I am choosing to focus on the highlights.

Followers Release

Perhaps the largest highlight of my year was the release of my fifth book, Followers, by Crystal Lake Publishing.

Crystal Lake Publishing was a pleasure to work with, especially in challenging times when I could not celebrate or promote a new novel in ways I have in previous years.

Followers is a novel that allowed me to question and play with themes and concepts that have come up during my time in the horror genre. It also got me to stretch and grow writer muscles. I feel like I took a step forward with this book. And it makes me want to take another. (I think I did with my yet unpublished WIP, and I stand poised for another with the next I plan to start.)

Publication is always an accomplishment for an author.

Telluride Horror Show

Telluride Horror Show was back in person this year! Vaccinated and masked but in Telluride!

After traveling next to none in more than a year prior, it felt so good to go somewhere. It was comforting to be in one of my favorite places. Even with the precautions, the event maintained itself. Most of the festivities were able to happen unchanged or simply migrated outdoors.

There was no more appropriate time to go than right after releasing Followers since I included the Telluride Horror Show in the book. While writing and editing and reading and re-reading Followers, I had been dying to walk to streets of Telluride again.

It was the vacation I needed.

And of course, we snuck in an amazing winter hike. Because one cannot survive on horror movies and booze alone… right?

NaNoWriMo

Yes, I returned to the challenge, the torment, the sprint for a second year. Last year, I used the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo – 50,000 words in one month) challenge to complete my novel Green Eyes. A novel I am still working and querying a year later.

This year, I was struggling with my relationship with the craft. I wanted to use NaNoWriMo to find my way back to my passion for writing. I wanted to strip away all the collateral parts of writing–the querying and editing and publishing and promoting and marketing–and return to just the act itself. So I turned to a genre I have never attempted, fan fiction.

Fan fiction can never be published for profit, due to copyright infringement. Since I could never do anything with the story, there was no pressure in writing it, just the creation of the story, just the pure act.

So I took my first and one of my favorite horror movies: Scream. I focused on the original movie from the perspective of the killers, with some before and after. I watched Scream a bunch of times and combed through the script. It was an experience, and it accomplished the goal.

I don’t know that I’ll ever do anything with Father Death. I have mused on polishing it up and posting it to this blog. However, it was fun to compose and brought me back to wanting to write again.

Now, I just have to wait and see how it aligns with Scream 5.

High School Speaking

Odd and out of character, one of my favorite author things to do is speak at schools. During lockdown, I even did it over Zoom. But I did miss it, especially during spooky season when everyone wants to talk about horror.

This fall, I got to return to one high school and talk to classes all day long. There were a lot of masks and distance involved, and the pandemic has definitely changed how students behave and interact, but I loved it just the same.

At these sessions, one of the teachers read one of my pieces to the auditorium. It was multiple layers of surreal. Reading my own work aloud is always a trip, but having another person read as I listened and watched the reactions added another layer.

It was not the same as when I have visited before the pandemic, but the world is not the same. We cannot expect things to snap back when years have passed and so much has happened. So instead of noting the differences, I appreciate how fun it was.

Metal Fusion Dancing

One thing that is better, that I do more of since the pandemic is performing, which seems odd. My metal fusion dancing is unrelated to writing. However, it does share a lineage with my love of horror. I often include horror themes, props, or imagery in my performances. For example, Pennywise or fake blood.

I used to dance and perform constantly with my troupe in Tennessee/Georgia. However, it has been slow returning to the activity since moving home to Colorado. I began finally dabbling and finding my way back to the stage preceding the pandemic and lockdowns. Yet as things have opened back up, I have found more opportunities, producers, and shows. I am seeing more traction.

I also continued to dance with my Southern troupe over Zoom and joined an online metal collective. So dance is firmly rooted back in my life.

Onward…

It would be inauthentic to gloss over the depths of my depression in the past year or the ripples my struggles are still sending through my days. However, that darkness does not mean the entire year has been dark. There were plenty of highlights and joy. The best way to keep my head above the waves is to keep my eyes on those points of light and remember the tide will swell and recede.

So it is onward into another year. No resolutions. No expectations. Just the ambition and hope to continue progress and recovery and hopefully grow the ratio of highlights versus darkness.

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Comments
  1. You’ve pretty much summed up how I feel about 2020 and 2021. But I absolutely love the celebration of your accomplishments. We need acknowledge these from time to time, because it can be difficult to see tangible results with our creations. Congrats again on the publication of your fifth book. Keep writing!

    Liked by 1 person

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