My Top 12 Stories of 2020

2020 brought me to Medium, for which I am eternally grateful. I want to highlight for you some of my favorite stories, written by me, from the past year. Thank you, Sarene B. Arias, for the idea!

In 2020, I went from zero to 1,683 readers. I’ve published 361 times and reached 67,180 views. Thank you for your support! It means the world to me. Instead of writing into a void, I’m sharing thoughts and experiences with you and you, in turn, are sharing your thoughts and experiences with me. It’s meaningful and fun — and not something I take for granted.

If you’d like to read more of my work beyond these highlights, you can find my complete table of contents here. In July, I somewhat trepidatiously began my publication, Age of Empathy. Part of me wanted it to succeed and another part of me wasn’t sure if I could handle running a publication. I’ve learned so much, from asking for help with wonderful co-editors — thank you, Shanna Loga, Bingz Huang, and Melissa Bee — to how to better communicate with writers for strengthening submissions to social networking. We are on track to have 500 followers by the end of January 2021.

In 2020, I received Top Writer status eleven times. I joined several strong writing groups. My writing improved tremendously. This is the first year in which I have been paid primarily for my writing above all other job endeavors. What a great feeling. I am in the final stretch of revising my memoir before submitting it to agents.

What a year it has been. Again, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your support. I appreciate you.

1. Short Story

This may be my favorite work of fiction I’ve written this year. The title is intentionally vague. I want readers to step into the main characters shoes and walk along with her. It could definitely use some love. If you read it, I’d love to know what you think in the comments section.

“Hello. I’m sorry.” Dammit. Why did she say she was sorry? Tara thought to herself. Because you’re sorry for living right now, for anyone seeing you like this. She answered back”.

7-minute read

2. Psychology/Ideas

I’ve found a place where I can ponder life and discuss ideas with other readers and writers. That has been such a gift in 2020. This article reflects on how the global pandemic may be a push of the human species towards the greater good.

“I’m no psychologist or historian, but it seems to me the collective slowing down of our species is indicative of evolutionary advancement.

I think the collective consciousness has been craving this stillness for a while. Yeah. We still have our technology to distract us. I’m certainly not immune. I’m earning my dollars through platforms and public writing.”

10-minute read

3. Lyric Essay

Kelly Eden gave me the knowledge of a form of writing this year — the lyric essay — and it touched my soul deeply. I’ve written two — intentionally — so far, and I’m sure more will come in 2021. This piece focuses on the experience of writing my memoir — which is still in progress.

“Jot down a note. Ask mom about Jason. Writing a memoir is having tough conversations. It’s an excavation. I feel like a ball of clay. Words are my medium and I shape them. I’m a shapeshifter. A magician.”

5-minute read

4. Creative Nonfiction + Nature

This was my first piece of creative nonfiction written for the platform. I’d tried a couple of gardening tutorials and they’d done very poorly. I was tickled at the response I got (and continue to receive) on this personal essay about family, nature, and intuition.

“Like Nature, deep within my being, I am a beautiful beast. I am deep. I am connection. I am magic. I am intuition.”

7-minute read

5. Writing + Inspiration

I’d been writing on the platform for about six months and I was floundering. Hard. I wanted to be successful like the top writers. And, I wanted it six months ago. I was discouraged, disgruntled, and sick of trying to play it by the rules. So, I wrote a pep talk to writers — and myself. It has resonated with many since its publication debut. I am honored to be a cheerleader for using our authentic, unique voices. When we do this, our stories are so much more compelling.

“It’s easy to get sucked up into the comparison game, especially on a social media writing platform, which is essentially the nature of Medium. When we come to the land of Oz and begin stretching our creative writing wings, we start getting distracted by flying monkeys.”

4-minute read

6. Humor + Writing

In 2020, I discovered I can write humor and satire! My jokes tend to fall flat and be poorly executed when I’m in person joking. Give me a keyboard and I can be cheeky, witty, smart, and funny. Yes, please!

2020 marks the year in which I got into Urban Dictionary for coining the phrase nichewich. Pretty cool.

“You are not getting this b*itch to niche down. You know why? I like variety. Fill my sandwich up with portobello mushrooms, pickles, bacon, chicken, avocados, mustard, mayo, olives, seasonings, and put it on rye bread for good measure. Bring me a side of sweet potato fries with an interesting sauce and a tall glass of water to wash it down.”

7. History + Tulsa Race Massacre

This is the most difficult article I’ve written for the platform. It required lots of research and being open to changing my own point of view when given new information. 2021 marks the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre. There will be media attention on Tulsa. There’s a likelihood that the victory part of the story will be left out. Carlos Moreno is making great efforts to see this part of the story is told.

“In reality, the Tulsa Race Massacre was premeditated — there are recorded police confessions saying as much. Greenwood is not only a story of systemic racism, but of history’s omission of a resilient Black community who rebuilt and hosted a thriving jazz and blues scene in the 1920s through the late 1940s.”

10-minute read

8. Poetry

I wrote a ton of poetry this year. One of my breakthrough poetry moments was when I sat down and put pen to paper to create a submission for Suntonu Bhadra’s publication, Paper Poetry. I was later asked by a writing friend to choose a poem to read for a podcast he is working on that will feature poets reading against different musical scores. It has been really fun working with Scott Muhlestein on this project. I’m looking forward to hearing it and promoting it in 2021.

4-minute read

“When a virus travels the
globe, what is it
searching for?
How badly does this germ
want to live?”

9. Music

Turns out I really enjoy writing about TV, Movies, and Music. One of my favorite pieces is a compilation of three womxn rockers who I adore.

“Aldous Harding is a New Zealand singer and performance artist who embraces looking strange. It’s part of her brand. I love it. Take this video, “The Barrel,” in which it appears Aldous enters the stage through a fabric representation of a vagina. She’s oddly dressed in a top hat resembling a penis or condom, and an overly modest black Puritan style dress with lace collar.”

4-minute read + music videos if you wish

10. Book Review

I found Anangsha Alammyan Books Are Our Superpower and thought to myself, here’s incentive to get reading again. Thank you, Anangsha, for bringing me back to reading physical books, turning the pages with my hands. The following review has resonated with readers. Some reader question my assessment while others don’t. My assertion here is pretty strong. I enjoyed Westover’s book and highly recommend it. I also hope to see her writing — and growing — more in the future.

“I dove into reading Educated without knowing what the book was about. As I read it, I was captivated by the story. I studied pace, timeline, details and the nature of memory. Beyond the compelling story, one thing in particular stood out. Westover’s questioning of her own narrative undermines her storytelling authority.”

7-minute read

11. Relationships + Self-Love

This is when I broke through my wall of self-consciousness in writing. And, it felt amazing.

“The best body compliment I have ever received was when my husband saw me relaxing in the bathtub. He looked over at me admiringly and compared me to a Botticelli painting. I was on the north side of 40 years old and I soaked in the substance of his words. For a brief moment, I saw my body through his eyes, and I finally saw beauty in my hips, my rotund belly, my mismatched breasts — even if just for a fleeting moment.”

6-minute read

12. Mental Health

I live with anxiety, depression, and OCD. I wasn’t diagnosed with OCD until after the age of 40, which is quite unusual. Mental Health and Self-care is close to my heart. You’ll find my writing on these subjects mainly in Invisible Illness and Age of Empathy.

“When I have second thoughts about including in my memoir my overnight stay in the mental psych wing of the hospital in college to protect me from committing suicide, I know mental illness disorders are not completely destigmatized yet.”

8-minute read

Smitten with nature. Fascinated by humans. Nostalgist. Poet. Memoirist. Personal Essayist. 13X Top Writer. Featured Food Column in The Innovation.

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