This post is the annual update of my writing career, such as it is.
2021 was a lost year: COVID-19, political strife, shipping crisis, etc. It was one of the roughest for me personally, mostly due to helping two loved ones- my friend Jenny and my brother Steve- through major medical issues that nearly claimed their lives. They are both disabled persons and I serve as caregiver with power of attorney for both. I recently became certified as a PCA because why the hell not.
But even though 2021 was ‘lost’, much like 2020, I still managed to accomplish a lot.
My last blog post was on March 21, 2021, shortly after Jenny went through another series of abdominal surgeries which she survived but with such extreme complications that her quality of life is greatly diminished. I have used my blog to keep friends and family updated on the status of these medical crises, but I just stopped abruptly.
These blog posts take a lot of effort to put together and the strain of my life made it not reasonable anymore. Maybe I should have kept it up for posterity or because I had blogged weekly for years, but I just was no longer able to devote the time. It’s all recorded in my journals.
Still, I made nine blog posts and had about 914 views, for whatever that’s worth. Personal blogs with meandering topics are not popular.
Because the UMN had all virtual classes Fall 20 to Spring 21, I was able to take two college level poetry classes for the first time in my life. I got two great poetry portfolios out of those classes. I remember distinctly thinking to myself as an English Major, back at the University of Iowa in the early 90’s, that studying poetry was frivolous because there are no jobs for poets. What the hell did I know?
I also took a series of online poetry workshops in Fall 21 at Hugo House in Seattle and the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. My poetry group continues to meet online and that’s been a great motivator.
I got two poems accepted for publication: one for the Martin Lake Journal and the other for lyricality.org. Neither is published yet but I will send out notice when they do become available. I even had a poem win 1st honorable mention for the Coral Peterson Memorial Award at the League of Minnesota Poets 2021 fall conference.
I was the featured poet at two readings last year: March 2021 Birds Nest Open Mic and June 2021 Up Close: Meet the Poet Behind the Verse hosted by River Urke. It was such an honor to be asked to do both events. Not being able to attend poetry open mics around town in-person has been a real loss for our community.
American School of Storytelling (AMSStory)
I am one half and the administrative arm of the American School of Storytelling. The American School of Storytelling is a program of classes, performances, and resources dedicated to the elucidation and propagation of the narrative arts. While this project is primarily focused on storytelling, we also include poetry and “spoken word” as part of our portfolio.
I took entrepreneur classes through Women Venture all summer with the end result of a robust business plan suitable to offer to banks for loan applications or real estate brokers for a commercial lease. The pandemic has slowed down our progress toward opening our brick and mortar location but that has not stopped us from looking for a permanent home for the school. More on that to come.
We made our first public appearance with AMSStory on October 16 at the Twin Cities Book Festival. After much convincing, I offered “Book of Snark” and “Popcorn from the Void” for sale at that event and sold a number of copies!
“Book of Snark” was entered into three self-published book awards. I didn’t win one of them but received a very positive review from my judge. The two other contests are still underway. Fingers crossed!
I continue my habit of placing free literature in little libraries across the country. Loren was in New Mexico from September 19 to December 6. On the drive home through Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa, I placed the “Book of Snark” in Little Libraries in cities where we stopped along the way. It’s a fun little nerd thing to do on our travels.
What was not so fun was taking seven trips to Peoria to attend to my brother’s declining health. I even spent July 12 to September 17 temporarily living in Peoria. I had been given the choice: install a feeding tube or send Steve to a nursing home to die. I chose the feeding tube, not knowing if even that would help him stay alive. He bounced back and I returned to Minneapolis two days before Loren left for New Mexico for eleven weeks.
Facebook is a doomsday machine. I’m not kidding.
It is software that has twisted up our loved ones, friends, memories, and therefore emotions so much as to engender nostalgia for this software that is collecting marketing data on our activities, in order to sell it to Corporate America (and others). It is an ingenious way to ‘force’ you to stay online: how will I keep in contact with everyone? How will I remember everyone’s birthdays? How will I keep up with their lives across country?
I don’t know but I don’t care anymore. The power this software company has is out of control and I for one refuse to create content for free for them anymore. I am pulling myself off FaceBook. In 2021, I spent the half hour before bed deleting all of my memories on Facebook. And if I felt a twinge of nostalgia, I deleted them even faster. You don’t get to have that power over me, Mark Fuckerberg.
I now participate in Old School social media. I mail quarterly greeting cards to my friends and family. I mail birthday cards. I even talk on the phone. And I am trading in Facebook Memories for Scrapbooks. It’s a hell of a lot more fun and more personal than the digital world. Don’t think so? When was the last time you got anything in the mail besides a bill?
I euthanized one of my cats today due to tongue Squamous Cell Carcinoma. This is the same cancer that my mom had in 2013, that led to radiation treatment, that led to MDS in 2018, that led to the leukemia that killed her in 2020. My brother is weakening and not likely to last another year. And Jenny is battling a medical horror that I will spare you from the details.
The future looks a little bleak right now.
But the fact is, I will have two poems published this year. I have a new direction in writing a book of fiction, creating a poetry collection, and Book of Snark #2. In-person readings are certain to start again one day and online readings continue. And the American School of Storytelling is an exciting project that is only just getting underway…
Watch out, here we come!
-Copyright C.M. Mounts, January 2022
Thank you so much for sharing this! I appreciate that you take the time to do this and include me! It’s fun to read all that you have accomplished and are involved in. This is a great way to remember what you have done over the years. That’s important! I’m at the point that I can’t remember what I did yesterday. I was recently thinking about Steve and your family, and wondering how you all were doing, So sorry to hear about Steve. Is he in the Peoria area? I don’t know if he would remember me or not.
My mom has had dementia for a while. Jeanette lives with her and she has in home nurses caring for her when Jeanette is working. She doesn’t remember most of us, but that doesn’t matter, we know her. She thought I was Francis yesterday. I assume she was thinking Aunt Francie. Other than that she does pretty good for being 92.
I’m frustrated with all that is going on in our world today. We need to get back to normal. And I agree with you on Facebook. I deleted my account about 2 years ago and have been living happily without it. I wish everyone would do the same. Take care and keep doing what you love to do! I love you, Cuz!
Really great to hear you accounting of 2021 – even though so much of it was taken up with caregiving and assisting your loved ones. I sincerely hope that 2022 brings all of us some relief from the pandemic, and a chance to gather again and talk, laugh, and remember what it is to be social animals.