It’s been a long time since I’ve caught up with my readers. If you’re in my social media network or my online writing group, you already know that 2020 brought many strange surprises. We all have had our world turned upside down, and many have suffered tragedies.
In my particular corner, it was not tragedy, but a crucible nonetheless. It was just over one year ago that, after a wonderful Valentine’s weekend with my husband in my present home country of Panama, that I left to visit my family in Florida. He took me to the airport as usual. I shed some tears as we kissed goodbye, not even knowing what was in store.
Funny that before I left, he said that the COVID outbreak in Asia was going to be more serious than anyone thought. And I was shocked when I got to the US and no one was talking about it, the media only obsessed with what Donald Trump was doing. Even I was lulled into a false sense of security. If it was barely making US news, then it was not a real threat, was it? Within weeks though, the danger became all too real. Panama closed its airports before I the date I had to wait to recycle my visa.
One month, two months, three months, and on and on. I can’t tell you how unnerving it was to never know when or if I was going back home. My husband was in a strict lockdown. Panama forced people to follow tight schedules based on gender and cedula number, like in some weird post-apocalyptic novel. I was staying with my parents, but still, it was a huge upset in my reality. I was used to jetting all over the world whenever I wanted. Now I couldn’t even go back to my home.
It turned out to be 8 months before I would see my husband and dog children again.
What we did do (while I called my airline so much that they already knew me on a first name basis) was try to make the best of it. I enjoyed time with my family. I was lucky enough to be there for my sister’s, my mom’s, and my dad’s birthdays. Also, I enjoyed my parents’ anniversary, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, 4th of July, and my nephew’s birthday. I was grateful for the chance to be with them during such a scary time, to volunteer to be the grocery getter, and to visit my grandmother several times. These were precious moments that I wouldn’t have had without the horrid situation. In every challenge there are gifts.
What I gained
- A depth of gratitude for my job when many other people lost theirs
- Appreciation for everyday things, like freedom to move, freedom to travel, freedom to go out and eat at a restaurant
- Time with my family I would’ve never had otherwise, especially with my 8-year-old nephew who is growing too fast
- Time to myself to reflect on what really mattered to me
- Space to make long-delayed plans a reality, like the Writers’ Mastermind, the online writing community I created
What inspired me
- The launch of SpaceX’s Dragon Crew and their landing. The first private endeavor like this in the midst of this chaos and in spite of it proved that we can reach new heights even when the world is paralyzed and held captive by an invisible foe.
- Canoeing. My dad bought a neighbor’s canoe so we could explore the small pond behind their house. On the same pond lived families of ducks, whose chicks I fed every morning and became my temporary pets while I was away from mine.
- Sensory deprivation float tank. Floating is a truly unforgettable experience I recommend everyone try at least once. I went twice and can tell you that the secrets of the universe are inside.
- Geochaching. I went on my first geochache adventures with my nephew and sister. It’s a scavenger hunt that leads you to many strange places hiding in your ordinary world.
- Writers’ Mastermind Meetings! I, along with my youngest sister, Tia, spoke for the first time with writers we have only known through emails and tweets. Member spotlights are coming soon, so you can get to know each one of these amazing writers. In the meantime, check out our Members Books page.
- Advanced Creative Writing Workshop. I met with wickedly talented authors who are also extraordinary human beings in Richard Thomas’s ACWW.
- Escaping into books, including the eagerly awaited ending to Joseph Sale’s Black Gate Trilogy. There were more amazing releases and new author discoveries I would love to share, but that will have to wait for another post. The biggest news it that my little sister Bia Bella Baker released her fantastical debut novel, Hecctrossipy. Congrats to Bia! I also revisited a few volumes Vampire Chronicles in the Ann Rice collection I left at my sister’s when I moved to Panama.
- SmartClassicalPiano.com. My parents have a piano and keyboard, so during lockdown, I decided to make a long-held fantasy come true and learned to play classical piano. I’m about 2/3 of my way through my favorite Chopin nocturne. If you ever wanted to learn piano, you will love Igor at smartclassicalpiano.com.
- Life lessons. I now know that, no matter what, love needs no proximity, and I can weather any storm, even one as bizarre and long and as challenging as this.
I’ve been back home since October, and though we’ve fallen back into our normal routines, I don’t think we’ll ever be the same again. The threat of losing what is most dear will always be at the periphery, and we are the better for it.
COVID has been horrible for all those who’ve suffered the it in the worst way. But for those of us left behind, it will allow us to love more, find joy in the little things, and stop taking things for granted. I hug my dogs a little tighter. I suck in the mountain air a little more desperately. I cherish all the souls I see, masked and bustling, in my small town. I make sure I savor the small moments of daily domestic life.
The pandemic proves that your life can be derailed at any moment. So if you have a dream to become a writer, do it. If you want to learn something new, don’t wait. If you want to cook, to train, to dream, or even to spend more time not doing anything at all, do it. Love hard. Don’t hold back. Not even the next minute is guaranteed.
Things to expect from me
I never announced it here, but just before I left Panama on that fateful day in February 2020, I signed with Bloodshot Books to publish my novella, Popsicle. It has been delayed at bit but is scheduled to come out in the summer of 2021.
Jerry Stahl, author or Permanent Midnight says:
Demented comedy, flat-out horror, criminal thrills that would make Tarantino blush, Christa Wojciechowski’s Popsicle has it all. This is the kind of book you won’t just dig, you’ll yank friends and loved ones out of their chairs and shove it in their faces and demand they read. Popsicle is the real deal. Get it while you can.Jerry Stahl
Popsicle also made it into the semifinals of Screencraft’s cinematic short story competition. It was a story that I never thought would see the light of day, and now it is the one getting the most attention. It did not move onto the final round, but it is a milestone that I am honored to have achieved.It just goes to show you, never give up on a story.
The Sculptor Series
The shamefully long-awaited novel, working title The Sculptor, will be released by the end of the year (hopefully). Please hit reply if you’re interested in an Advanced Review Copy.
The Writers’ Mastermind
The Writers’ Mastermind is live and full of amazing writers that inspire me every day. This month, we are creating time management plans with a special guest, writing coach Christie Adams.
We also have classes available on intensive planning, author platforms, staging your own book publicity tour, and the 5 Act Structure with Joseph Sale. If you’re a writer, or ever thought maybe you’d like to be one, join us at https://writersmastermindgroup.com.
Next month, I will begin preparing the second book in The Sculptor series for publication.
The Writer’s Mastermind will be featuring more experts to help writers fast track their careers.
My intention for 2021 is to have one adventure a month. So far, we went on an eBike escapade. Really fun!
Also, I will be offering 3 short stories to my email list subscribers in the next newsletter.
I apologize for this long post. Now that we’re all caught up, my updates will be a reasonable length.