We really do want to know, and we want to publish it in The 2020 Newsletter.
How this started:
My former MFA professor, author Alan Davis, and I have stayed in touch since the early 2000s when I was his student in a Minnesota university MFA program.
In December of 2020, we had an exchange of holiday newsletters (which are just like the regular newsletters you subscribe to, but they appear less frequently in your inbox. And you don’t subscribe to them. They just…show up).
After reading Davis’s letter and then responding with my own, I couldn’t help but wonder (much like Carrie Bradshaw), “What might the impact on history — and each other, today — be if we all shared our stories documenting the many ways our lives, habits, opinions, emotional states, family relationships/friendships, or perspectives were affected by the events of 2020?”
When asked what he thought of the idea of gathering people’s newsletters (in whatever form they might be written — traditional letter, journal, poetry, bullet-list, pro/con, rap, song, sonnet, etc.), Davis said he liked it and agreed to partner with me on it.
I know it’s easy to think, “We were all there. We all saw the same stuff.”
But we didn’t.
We were all in 2020, sure, but each of our experiences was unique. Your experience was yours alone, as different from your neighbor’s as it was from that of someone living on the other side of the world.
There’s no doubt that students in 25, 50, or 100 years will be reading about 2020 the way we might have been reading about 1918 in a social studies class. Only, 2020 has more than the pandemic to make it famous. It also has … too much more to list here. Wherever you live, whoever you are, you know what 2020 was to you.
But the students of the future won’t know what 2020 was. Not the way you do. All they’ll know is what they read in history books.
(You remember what school history books said about Columbus — and so much more — don’t you?)
We’re currently collecting stories from people of all ages, races, genders, cultures, religions, political affiliations, and music preferences around the world and publishing them at The2020Newsletter.org.
We want to know what 2020 was for you.
We hope to gather as wide a variety of contributions as possible and to ultimately select from among them to create an anthology, The 2020 Newsletter, 100 percent of whose proceeds will benefit the United Way Covid-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund.
– The 2020 Newsletter is a volunteer project with all expenses paid out-of-pocket.
– We do not charge submission fees nor pay contributors for their personal stories.
OfThe 2020 Newsletter project’s two primary goals, the first — and arguably most important — is to pre-emptively correct what might become the historical record of 2020.
The second of the project’s goals, though, focuses on the present day. The contributions will ideally bring people closer together through shared, if vastly different, responses to events that have otherwise made many of us feel isolated.
I’m almost positive we’ll learn something important about one another and possibly gain a stronger sense of camaraderie even if our individual circumstances aren’t necessarily similar.
The 2020 Newsletter invites all styles — anything but fiction. And because this is not a literary project but a history and humanities project , no fancy or professional writing is required. We just want YOU. You can even use a fake name, if you want.
2020 was incredibly personal for many. There might be things you don’t want to say publicly with your name attached. That’s why we invite you to use only your first name, if you want. It can even be a fake name. What we do want to be true, identity-wise, is your age and location.
Here’s what entries look like, so you have an idea of how some people have already chosen to be identified:
Whatever name you choose, “we want to hear your stories, anecdotes, what inspired you, what knocked you flat and how you picked yourself up and helped others stay on their feet,” Davis says. “The year was a tapestry of wonder and woe, tears and laughter. Tell us how the year played out for you and those you care for. Praise, pray, rant, report or sing in any key whatsoever.”
More information: The2020Newsletter.org
Thank you in advance if you choose to share your 2020 with us.
Originally published on 2/5/21 here.