7 Years of Lola By the Bay and 2020 Year in Review

A part of me has always found it perplexing that I chose to start up my website at the end of a year. I sometimes wonder, “Why not have waited one more week until you were in the new year before finally starting it?” Well, seven years later, I look back on that decision and I think it worked out, actually. I get to both acknowledge the formation of this constantly growing website and look back on the past year in one go… and… well…. needless to say, this is quite a year to look back on.

2020, for lack of a better word, has been rough on everyone. The COVID-19 pandemic upended life as we know it and has been continuing to do so ever since we all had to shift gears over nine months ago. It’s fair to say that it has impacted the content that I wrote about and the perspective I took on it. I touched on the xenophobia that has emerged towards the Asian American community in response to the pandemic, the change of release and platform for the recording of “Hamilton” and its ongoing impact, celebrating storytelling in the virtual world, and also on in-person events like BookExpo being cancelled for good.

It’s wise to note that to blame the entire year on the pandemic alone would be inaccurate, and I didn’t shy away from talking about some of the other events that have contributed to making this year a hazardous one. The Black Lives Matter movement reached a turning point this year as Black lives continue to be destroyed by the justice system that has always been broken. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and more are just some of the many people who should still be with us, but aren’t. With nothing to distract us from this reality, people have finally started waking up to what’s been happening in the Black community for centuries, and now, work is happening to begin the long process of some really overdue change. In case you missed it the first time, I’ve provided a list of resources and ways to support the Black Lives Matter movement that you can check out here.

Of course, there’s more. In between natural and not-so natural disasters and an election that, thankfully, went in a different direction (although by not that large of a margin), approximately 330,000 lives have been lost to COVID in the U.S. alone. In addition, we also mourned the losses of the likes of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, Chadwick Boseman, John Lewis, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and more. As a result, it should come as no surprise that reflecting on the marks they’ve made have been touched on here as well.

Because of the stress, trauma, and anguish from the events of the year, I’ve wound up scaling back on the frequency of which I blog on here, without apology. It’s exhausting to put out a post every week, and pushing myself to do so during a year like this would have been too much.

Admittedly, I wasn’t as proactive initially with my writing when we first started shifting gears, despite encouraging others to utilize this time to get creative. But thankfully I wasn’t in the slumps for too long. Even prior to the pandemic taking over our lives, the year had already indicated a sign of getting more into filmmaking, by way of screenwriting. While that has been a pursuit of mine for quite a few years already, I’m thrilled to see how I’m really starting to make real progress in that endeavor.

At the end of February, my screenwriting debut came into fruition in the form of the short film, “Breath of Writing.” About a month and a half later, it got to be a part of a virtual film festival put on by Kristian Kabuay, and wound up being very relate-able for the audience in attendance.

But that’s only just scratching the surface. The screenplay adaptation of An Absolute Mind and my teleplay, “Time and Time Again,” both became quarterfinalists in two different screenwriting competitions put on by ScreenCraft. For someone who’s used to getting a flat out rejection right away, this was definitely a refreshing change of pace. In addition, I’m participating in a screenwriting competition put on by NYC Midnight, and to have my script, “Small Town Spy,” make Top 15 in my assigned group for the first round was incredible to see.

“Time and Time Again” has been entered into different screenplay competitions over the last several months; some of which I won’t hear the results about until the new year. While I’ve been putting in time on that, I’m happy to cap of this year with an audio-only reading that was done of one of my favorite scenes from “An Absolute Mind,” as produced by WILDsound Festival.

I’ve been talking a lot about the screenwriting I’ve been doing this year. However, just so you know, that’s not the only creative writing I’ve been doing. Work has slowly but surely continued on my third novel, and as mentioned at the end of last month, I managed to get quite a lot done during NaNoWriMo. It’s also worth noting that even though that the year is about to come to a close, there’s more that’s in the works that will be starting and/or continuing onward into the new year. I’m planning on changing tactics and gears with how my creative writing is coming about – particularly with my prose – and I’m actually putting on my playwright hat for the first time in a year and a half, as a new script is in the works. I’ll talk more about that another time.

Of course, that’s not all the writing I’ve done this year. Even during a pandemic, content creating hasn’t slowed down for me with all the interviews, reviews, and think pieces I put out over the last year. I also continued re-posting content originally written for YOMYOMF over on Drifting Back Around and completed that process back in April. In addition, I also joined a third outlet this year when I was invited to join the staff of Hapa Mag and being a part of it, so far, has been an incredible experience.

2020 will be over in less than a week. While I’m proud of the work I accomplished over the last year, I think it’s fair to say that this year is one that I’m glad to be leaving behind. While there are many lessons to be taken away from the events that have occurred over the last eleven months, it’s fair to say that a lot of them could have been prevented and should not have costed as many lives that have been impacted as it has. We’re going to be crawling out of this year with mental scars and trauma that will be with us for life, and I’m not sure if carrying them with a badge of honor is the best tactic to go about it.

I’m hopeful for life to resume to the fullest extent in 2021. At the same time, I want things to improve even beyond what we were accustomed to before the pandemic even hit. There’s a reason why I considered the fictional future of An Absolute Mind optimistic even by the standards of the year 2015 when I initially wrote it. Now, maybe it can be a blueprint for what we can aspire to in the years and decades to come. But that only starts if we stop messing around and start honestly thinking about others instead of just ourselves. Let this coming year be the beginning of that evolution.

In loving memory of Steve B. Harrington (1953-2020) *


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