Covid year 1 - 2020 review

My passport gathers dust, my paints dry out but my keyboard and printer get a serious work-out
Covid's first year, 2020, had its peaks and troughs but mine were by no means as low as those of others. Friends caught Covid, but all recovered; neither I nor my family were infected. When domestic or international travel was permitted, I twice took advantage - but not as far afield as my norm: I stayed in Europe. I explored London like never before, and discovered the joys of unknown corners, parks, woods, neighbourhoods festooned with murals and streetart. I experimented with cooking - and was secretly glad that I wasn't allowed guests as my outcomes were often unshareably bad. I did not paint, nor make prints. I took part in harmonica workshops - online, the experience was different and jamming together impossible with the technology available.

I shouted often at my television and despaired of the government's performance. A friend's mother died in a care home. I am unable to visit my parents - either travel is prohibited for me, or my parents' residence discourages/forbids visitors. I have not lived in the same country as my parents for many years and we are accustomed to a telephone relationship with only a handful of face to face meetings each year, so the change in circumstances is not as hard for them or me, as it is for my friends who are used to (and now prevented from) regular visits.

I wrote. I wrote a lot, and possibly edited even more. With one group of writers - online - we met weekly to exchange and critique texts, in 2,000 word chunks. My completed (but not yet satisfying) novel set in Argentina was pushed and pulled through its paces and commented on. Overall the comments made the manuscript lengthen: better words, better story but a growing epic, longer than the market might want.

With other writers I produced short story after short story, the original idea, born before Covid, an anthology on a theme, but Covid affected the writers differently and our production (and goals) diverged. The pleasure in short stories, where I could experiment with voice, character or style far more easily than I could in a novel, has convinced me to carry on with the form. I also produce travel writing, an experiment, thinking of a project to combine with my photography - the focus New Guinea.

Many of my short stories are not "short" - it seems my comfort zone is 3,000-7,000 words, which places them outside the market of many publications but I am not concerned. I feel more comfortable (at this stage) with stories that contain an arc and an ending. One story grows much longer... It ends the year at 11,000 words and I know I have a long way to go.