2020 – Looking Back

When I was a teenager, my parents moved our family to a small town on the coast of Georgia. Aside from the shock of being relocated from Hawaii to the mainland in the middle of winter, we also experience the joy of moving to a town with a paper factory.

If you’ve ever been anywhere near a paper factory, or maybe read Fight Club, you’re familiar with the swampy smell they pump into the area for miles around. Everywhere you’d go in that quaint coastal city, indoor and out, you’d be bathed in the bitter scent of fart.

Something I quickly learned while making friends in the town was people don’t like to talk about it. It’s horrible. It never goes away. If you were sitting on the beach, enjoying the calm ocean and fine sand, and were to exclaim “God, it stinks,” people would cast dirty stares at you. More than a few times, I was scolded by people trying to forget the scent we were surrounded by.

I feel like that has been this year. The luckiest among us, those of us who haven’t lost someone close to us, may have somewhat of a privilege to tune out, grow numb to the impact this year has had on the world. When you turn on the radio, television, any video online, it’s like a tube is quickly shoved into our throats and we’re forced to feed on and relive the horrors we’ve all been suffering for the past several months. That constant reminder makes me thankful my family hasn’t suffered any loses, but I can’t imagine what that constant reminder is like for someone who has lost a loved one. The pain must be unimaginable.

Yet, here I am, doing the exact same thing as all those emotionless corporations and government entities do. Good job, Alex.

While not horrific, my year has been complicated. My first child was born in late February, right before all this started. Having the amazing privilege of being able to take time off work, a period which we stocked up to make it through, my wife and I missed out on the first month of isolation because we, ourselves, were isolated anyway. We didn’t sleep for a lot of that time, or were just going through the motions of being new parents, so it felt a bit like a dream. Our newborn sent us into isolation, but the world around us, one we maintained little contact with, began falling apart.

During that time, I did very little. I wrote some poetry, did some editing on one of my novels here and there, pecking at it. Just before Halloween, I decided it would be a shame to miss a year participating in nanowrimo. After flip-flopping back and forth between stories and outlines, I decided to work on an idea that’s been itching to be put to paper. It is a deviation from the genre I typically write in, being a science fiction story, but I felt like it was worth telling enough that I should get it done.

So, in November, I wrote the majority of what will be released in 2021 as the novel titled Pittsburgh Blue. It’s a story about a massive constellation of satellites a company irresponsibly launches that turns out to be compromised in a way that threatens all life on Earth. Having no real desire to write science fiction, or action, really a good number of the elements of this story, it was a bit of a struggle. That said, I think it is a fun story with good characters, and I am overly pleased with the way it has turned out. After finishing up editing my last novel, I’ll be returning to Pittsburgh to tidy it up. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing at least three releases from my backlog in 2021, plus a new poetry collection that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working on.

In addition to my current backlog, I’m also taking some time off around the December holidays to hopefully bang out another story. There’s enough to do on what’s already written that I don’t see myself, or my editor for that matter, completing four complete novels next year. We can always hope, though!

Well, I’ve been rambling enough that I should wrap this up. It’s been long enough that I posted I figured it would be nice to get an update out to the world, whoever is paying attention. These posts always sort of end in the “there’s a lot to look forward to” way, but I think right now there is more than ever coming down my pipeline. It’s a good variety, too. I’m almost finished writing the first draft of the sequel to 40 x 491. The as of yet unnamed novel I’ve been posting about is nearly through the editing process. Pittburgh’s first draft is a few hours from completion. My poetry book, this next novel, the list goes on, and is probably getting a little dull.

I hope you can make it through this year unscathed. If not, I’m not a religious person, but you’re in my thoughts. Hopefully that’s worth something. As always, thank you for checking out my work. If you’re keeping an eye out through the next year, you’re going to have a lot of reading to do from A. M. Langston.

Be safe out there.

If you enjoyed this post, or the experience that has been the year 2020, please check out my poetry collection From Couch to Couch, Never Leaving the House. It is his first published poetry collection, written during the earlier years of A. M. Langston’s life when he was socially isolated due to his family or friends moving away. A lot of that work is especially relevant today.

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