Thursday, December 31, 2020

Looking back - the year in blogging

Michael - new year's eve

This is definitely not a survey of the top stories of 2020, it's not even the droll retrospective Zoe did a year ago in her Look Back and Wonder post. We all know what the top stories were, and how they worked out or are still working out. But since today is the last day of a year that won’t be forgotten for many more of them, I thought it might be interesting to see how the impacts developed over the year through the eyes of the Murder Is Everywhere team, and what other things occupied our minds.

Stan opened 2020 by introducing his Minneapolis visitors (and us) to the Museum of Russian Art. Yes, in Minneapolis. Caro wrote a moving tribute to writer MC Beaton who didn’t make it to 2020. Jeff solicited for a wedding present – his Aegean April given away on Kindle for 99c. (That was a bargain. I hope you didn’t miss it.) That kicked off of an excellent year for Jeff‘s excellent books. Susan horsed around on the Kaida Plateau. Cara reminded us about the strikes in Paris. 

There was a lot of book stuff in January. Kwei introduced his new protagonist Emma Djan in his personal Year of the WomanCaro struggled with copy edits. Stan and I launched Facets of Death, our Kubu prequel.

The first hint of one of the big stories came from Annamaria when she asked: Is the US a Democracy? Her answer was “sort of.” I think it’s now proved that it is, but it looked a bit shaky there for a while. The consensus is that the election is over. (2021 will see the kick off of campaigning for the next one!) 

Stan pushed the 24 hour clock and the clever Hanke-Henry perpetual calendar. (I wonder what happened to that idea? I guess people had other things to worry about in 2020.) 

All of this was refreshingly normal – lots of interesting stuff from all over the show. The world had big problems as it always does, but there were no hurricane clouds on the horizon - at least not ones that we could see. Jeff wrote a Call to Action – the refugee crisis in the Greek islands. Did that magically go away? Not at all. It’s just worse and more dangerous now. People’s attentions went elsewhere.

Thank heavens for Caro and her sense of humor! She reported on Scotland’s politics and failings, and updated us on haggises (if that’s the plural), finally inviting us to decide which part of the blog was fiction. Annamaria introduced us to politics and football. What could go wrong? Sujata reported from India where she was researching her new book. I worried about Big Data and what it meant to privacy. Mary Higgins Clark left the world.

And that was just January! I had fun rereading all the posts, but I realised I’ll never get to the end of the year at that rate. So fast forward.

In February I talked up some good news on pollution and climate change and Annamaria picked that up too, Caro travelled to Grand Turk, Stan renovated his place in Cape Town. Zoe introduced us to Worzel Gummidge. Susan continued to delight us with the sights and culture of Japan. And MIE hit 4 million page views!

Then in March it all changed. Caro had the virus coming a calling in Scotland. Jeff picked it up the next day. Zoe didn’t go to Venice the day after. Cara had a friend trapped on a cruise vessel. Sujata gently taught us we could greet and be polite without shaking hands. I tried a little kitchen epidemiology, and said a vaccine was a year out. (I’m delighted that it was three months shorter than that, but it will be a lot longer for many of us.)

There were posts on writing and rewriting. (Jeff even rewrote Shakespeare!) Susan reminded us that life is everywhere as well as murder, and exhorted us to share the toilet paper. (Remember the toilet paper shortage? I'd also forgotten. Where on earth did that come from?)

Then came the lockdowns. After that first week of March, the impact of the virus dominated most of the MIE posts through the end of May. Slowly, like everyone else, the blog team adjusted to the new realities like everyone else. We found new ways of having panels, new ways of operating and socialising at a distance. And all the old issue were still there. And lots of other quirky, curious things were too. The virus wasn’t behind us, but it wasn’t dominating any more. It stayed part of the conversation but the focus was positive. Kwei gave us an insight into the history of vaccines. Zoe wondered How are We Going to Write About This?. By the way, the US election and Brexit got hardly any airtime, although Black Lives Matter did. That’s okay, you could hear plenty about politics elsewhere.

So how did the team themselves look back this month? Jeff summed it all up in Welcome to Cassandra Times. Kwei finished his analysis on the Psychology of Cults. Caro gave us a Brexit road map, but I think it got lost when the snow ploughs didn’t arrive. Annamaria summed up the final step of the election – yes, the final step, really – in Patriots versus Traitors. Sujata showed how artists thrive on everything – even the virus – in When the Muse is named Corona. Susan, Annamaria and Kwei had different takes on Christmas. And yesterday, Sujata reminded us that the past is never dead, it’s not even past with a personal story of Johns Hopkins.

Blogmates and blog readers, it’s been a joy to be with you through this year. It’s been a challenging year, but we’re still all here and cheerful. There's light at the end of a tunnel that’s not an oncoming train. Have a good new year’s eve, even if it has to be a pretty private one.

May 2021 be the year when many things change for the better! I’ll drink to that!


  1. Thank you, Michael. By summing up the way you have, you help me see that, though I have been alone, I have had a daily chance at conversation across the miles with some of the people dearest to me. I have a nice champagne in my cooler, but I'll have to wait to drink it. I am afraid I'd put my eye out if I tried to pop the cork all by myself. Wishing all 2021 filled with comfort and joy!

  2. What a great retrospective, Michael. Those are never easy to do. Definitely the most stunning, vertigo-inducing year in our lifetimes. What upset me most was we all have a sense of sadness when a plane goes down and kills hundreds of people, yet since mid-December we have been having as many as ten fatal Boeing 777 crashes every single day in the US, and yet we don't feel that same sense of horror.

    1. Wasn't it Stalin who said "The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic." He was a monster, but he wasn't stupid.

  3. A tour de force, Michael. The year brought us all together--as Sis said--in ways we never imagined, and deepens my appreciation at being part of the MIE family...we writers, we readers, we friends.