by Miko Johnston

I’m taking a break from BACK TO BASICS: WRITERS BOOT CAMP, which I’ll complete in my next posting.

Goodbye 2020, and good riddance. The year began horribly when last January, a bizarre mishap led to a friend of mine getting shot while having dinner at an upscale restaurant. An 80 year old woman, healthy, mentally alert and physically active, who golfed, gardened, rescued animals and took piano lessons; if you saw her back then you’d never guess her age. She survived, but complications led to amputation of both her legs. If you told me back then that anything worse could top what happened to my friend, I would not have believed you. 

Back in May I wrote, How will YOU tell the story?, referring to “…an experience unprecedented in our lifetime*”. That asterisk referred to the few exceptions, including my then almost 105 year old aunt who’d lived through the Spanish Flu pandemic. She celebrated her birthday last July, but passed away on Veteran’s Day. Thanks to the ‘unprecedented’ times, I could neither celebrate her milestone birthday with her, nor attend her funeral.

When I originally wrote that post, we had little to guide us other than grave concern and dire predictions, most of which came true. Being married to a scientist who spent his career analyzing data, I took those predictions seriously, unlike too many. As we close in on a year of living dangerously, I have to change my question: it’s no longer a matter of how will we write about this, but how can we not?

I can see endless possibilities for mystery writers, from deliberately using COVID-19 as a murder weapon to inadvertently causing a beloved family member’s death. All writers may focus on how the virus instills fear, closes down communities, has us scurrying furtively between home and car, car and essential travel. Many people who live alone have had cognitive issues worsened by quarantine; those who suffer from depression have declined, whether secluded or not.

How will we react when we finally crawl out of our caves of isolation into the light? When will we feel safe? When will we feel normal? Will it ever happen in our lifetime, or will this haunt us as the Great Depression haunted a generation almost a century ago?

I also can see COVID used as a symbol for the dark fears held within us, and the hopes for a brighter future. Exploring the idea of can we versus should we. Or writing about it as part of a cleansing ritual, to wash away the disappointments, pain and sorrow of 2020.

January always brings the promise of better things to come and we’re all rooting for that. The man who shot my friend goes on trial that month. Ironically, that’s when I’m scheduled for jury duty – what are the odds?

As we head into the holiday season, may 2020 end on a more harmonious note for all of us, and may the new year shine like a beacon, beckoning us toward a safer, calmer and healthier future. At last, something we can all agree upon.

Miko Johnston, a founding member of The Writers In Residence, is the author of three novels in the historical saga A Petal In The Wind, as well as several short stories in anthologies including LAst Exit to Murder. She is currently completing the fourth book in the Petal series. Miko lives on Whidbey Island in Washington (the big one). Contact her at

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

16 thoughts on “GOODBYE 2020”

  1. Miko, thank you for a grand ending post for us all with the positives and negatives in store for mystery writers. An annus horibilis, as Queen Elizabeth said before and now must repeat the phrase with even deeper meaning. Best wishes to all our Writers in Residence. Happy Holidays and a spirited New Year.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This painful year will teach us a lot about many things. Let’s see how many people learn enough to make a difference. We have a fairly good track record since 1776.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It sounds as if there are many good reasons for you to say goodbye to 2020. January can’t arrive soon enough! And it will be interesting to look back on this year in the year to come.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I know I’m not alone in wishing to say goodbye. And yes, when we reflect back to 2020, I hope we can learn from our mistakes as well as celebrate the wonderful things we learned about ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. One thing that happened in 2020; God gave the world a big “heads-up” with a world-wide pandemic. Life isn’t all making money. Health isn’t all medicine. Joy isn’t all from the glitter and glitz, even of Christmas. I hope in the New Year we can be more aware of our fellow writers, friends, family. Give them encouragement. Give them hugs (okay, so look the other way while you’re doing it). And point them to the One who holds all of our lives in His hands.
    Thanks Miko for a winning post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jackie. If we want life to be better in the new year we’ll have to set our sights in another direction, whether inward, outward or upward.


  6. Thoughtful post, Miko. So sorry about your friend and your Aunt. One of the thoughts/resolves/emotions I’ve been focusing on in the waning part of 2020 is “Tomorrow is not promised.” 2020 has indeed sucked, but I’ve been here to experience it, and sure hope to be ringing in the new year! Have great holidays all!


    1. So true, Madeline. You know it’s been a bad year when reading The Grapes of Wrath is cheery : ) However, as you point out, there’s no guarantee about the future, but we can learn from the past.


  7. Interesting thoughts, Miko. I’m sorry about your friend and your Aunt. Indeed, we’ve had a year for reflection. Don’t know about you, but I could do with a vacation!


    1. Thanks, Rosemary. This has been a year of interesting times. I too would love to travel, make up for all the trips I missed last year. Santa Fe, Ottawa, Brittany and Eastern Europe will have to wait, for aside from the safety issue, where could we go? – we’re not allowed in any other country. We can dream, though.


  8. I like your writing, Miko. As we close out 2020, let us be thankful that our friend is a strong woman, determined to walk and live the rest of her life as normal as possible, that we have scientists who had the knowledge and worked to create vaccines. Let us hope that our leaders can come together for a unified next four years, that those who suffer great losses, be it losing loved ones or their lively hood, through the pandemic or the horrific storms, will overcome their burdens. And be joyous that the rains came, washed away the dust from the smoke and once again, our gardens bloomed with color.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Beautifully expressed, Avis. You’ve demonstrated the power of words, how they can transform even the bleakest situation into something positive and hopeful. Thank you for weighing in.


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