• Mary K Gowdy

Writing in the Time of COVID (2021 Review)

2021 feels like a fever dream to me. I can't believe that any what occurred in my life happened or that the year is over. Somehow, 2020 feels more real than 2021, and 2021 might have been a harder year for me personally. My mental health suffered greatly this year, and it affected my writing in a big way. This was a much less productive year than I had wanted it to be. It's frustrating when there's so many projects I want to write and I feel like I'm failing when I don't follow through with my goals. But I was just too tired and unmotivated to write.


Here's an overview of my year:


  • In January, I got stuck in this one scene in the Labeth Prequel--a poem to be exact that I could not figure out for the life of me.

  • Then in February was the snow storm, and I live in Texas so I had on-and-off power for several days straight--not good for writing.

  • I wrote and revised some poems in the spring, but in the summer, I got on anxiety medication. For several months, it messed with my sleep and energy levels. I slept the majority of the summer away.

  • September was a great month for writing! I revised so many poems, sometimes 4 in one day. And I finally finished the poem I had been stuck on from the Labeth Prequel in January and then proceeded to finish Chapters 2-5 by the end of the year.

  • On November 18th, I started the first draft of The One and the Other Volume Two, something I've been dreaming about for years.

  • There were some other mental health stuff that happened later in the year but I would rather not go into it.

Though my writing productivity improved in the later half of the year, 2021 was hard to the very end. And I do feel that even though things improved, I didn't utilize my time as best as I could have and that I could've done more. I envy the consistency I had back in college. But I write all of this to remind myself of what a hard year it was and that I gave what I could considering the circumstances. I'm torn between wanting to rise to my full potential and being compassionate and understanding towards myself. I low-key hate these posts because it reminds me of all of the things I had wanted to accomplish in the previous year but didn't. But I push myself to write these because I want a record for myself and I'm trying to be more honest with others about how I am doing. And this is (some of) what happened.


There were good things that happened this year:

  • I went on a road trip to Big Bend, Carlsbad, ABQ, and Santa Fe - it was my first time traveling that far west, and I loved it! I had been wanting to go on a trip like that for so long.



  • Got my first tattoo - another goal I had been waiting for years for the right moment to do it. The words are Proverbs 23:18 - "Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off."


  • Volunteered to help in ESL classes for refugees - helping refugees is a cause I have carried about for several years now. Post-graduation, I was going to go on a mission to help those crossing the border but that didn't happen because of covid. While the news was disappointing, it was nice to be able to stay where I am, and it's been so great to find ways I can help refugees in my hometown.

  • Got my first full-time job - and it's working with refugees!

  • Lastly but definitely not least - I had poems published by TWO different literary magazines. Not only ONE, but TWO.

(my reaction when the first poem was published)

"10,000 Hours" was published by the Bridge: Bluffton Literary Journal, and "In Her Hand" was published by Sheila-Na-Gig. Both are online literary magazines so you can read them at the links.


Now, onto talking about the major projects:


In my previous end/beginning--whatever you want to call it--year post, this project was called Poetry Collection or Poetry Book #1, but it FINALLY has a name! Coming up with the title was a huge win this year because if you had asked me in 2020 what I was going to name this manuscript, I would've told you that I had no idea and what titles I had tried to come up with weren't very good. But I love this title so much! When it came to me, I immediately knew it was the one--no need to brainstorm for others.


There are nine poems that need to be revised along with some minor edits in other poems, but then it'll be done. I've talked before about submitting this collection to traditional publishers and using self-publishing as a fall-back. I'm not so sure about that plan anymore. I'm at a crossroads, and I'm trying to figure out the best option. I'll update you once I've decided.



This project definitely suffered from my mental health struggles this year considering I didn't touch it for six months. While writing The One-Sided Coin, there was a long gap due to mental health struggles as well. I had hoped to write this book a lot faster, but I'm really proud of how this book is coming out. There's definitely an improvement between the Labeth Prequel and The One-Sided Coin.


Current Status: over halfway through with draft 2 ("the rewrite draft"). I just got over the hump of the midpoint and am heading towards the end.


Volume Two Draft One is underway! The first chapter and a half have been written, and I am loving every second of it! It has flowed so well so far. Fingers crossed that it continues that way.


I had wanted to create a detailed outline before drafting this time unlike in the past where I've only had a bare bones outline and started writing. I did this new process for the first three episodes before getting stuck on episode 4. After a couple months had passed where I didn't get anywhere, I decided to just start writing it. Recently though, I figured out the plot of Episode 4 and am in the midst of outlining it in its entirety. I had given up on experimenting with this new writing process, but this recent victory has made me think that perhaps I can do it. I am really happy with how the first couple of scenes are coming out so maybe I'm on to something.


Until I finish the second draft of the Labeth Prequel, this is my side project. I only intend to work on this when I'm too tired to edit my other projects but I still want to get some writing done. This will be a new writing experiment as well and I'm interested in seeing how it plays out.


Other Projects


Chervaux (NaNoWriMo 2018 Project)


Still no major updates though some songs have recently given me new ideas for one of the character's arcs. The songs are "Oh Lord" and "The In-Between" by In This Moment. Go check them out!


It's 2022?


I keep wanting to write 2021 on everything. My mind thinks that the year now turned 2021 because it doesn't truly feel like the year happened or that it could be over already.


It's good to have a new job, and there's some other exciting things coming up in my personal life this year. I'm also nearing the completion of two major projects: Where Have We Come From, Where Are We Going? and the Labeth Prequel. I would love to publish one of them (maybe both) this year. Do I worry that life will get in the way like it did in 2021? Yes. I just got to keep doing what I love which is to write. And try to find the balance to strive and rest amidst the struggle.


Till my next post, ✌️

Thanks for reading.

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