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A List of My 2020 Side-Effects

Neo-noir author, Rebecca Jones-Howe

I’ve been a bit foggy here on the blog. Long story short, I took a week off writing to work on pitching my debut novel, The View From the Basement, to some agents. Two of those agents requested to read my manuscript. Good things, right? Great things! Progress! The downside, however, is that I sacrificed some of my Patreon story-crafting time to do my queries and well, now it’s June.

I have no story to share. And I’m sorry. It’s not just the writing that’s been tough. I’ve been struggling to get my ideas into shape. Last week and the riots in response to the murder of George Floyd proved to be too much of an emotional distraction.

Black Lives Matter, just in case anyone thought I felt otherwise.

Nevertheless, I gave up on the story I was working on and started a new one. This new one proves itself to be one worth finishing. It’s just taking some time because of all the heavy stuff. I really am doing my best to prevent the politics from bleeding into my work but it’s TOUGH when you’re a political person to begin with.

Last night I tried giving myself a break by NOT writing at all. I curled up on the couch with a good book, started falling asleep, but well, all my 2020 side-effects started kicking up a storm again.


Insomnia plagued me about a month ago. I relented and gave myself a couple days off writing. I went to bed earlier.

But now I’m back to reading before bed (at a more sensible hour, at least in terms of a writer), nearly falling asleep, and then getting triggered by a thought of the door not being locked, or a flashback from high school, or the neighbour coughing their lungs out from their rank-ass weed, and it’s BOOM, instant awake time until at least 3:30AM.

Stress Sweats

A few times every day I break into horrendous heat spells. I never get actually sweaty, but my body feels overheated, like it’s giving me a sneak peek to what menopause is gonna feel like.

I keep thinking that I’m coming down with coronavirus.

Usually these hot spells plague me at night. I end up kicking my blankets off and feeling less secure (because I’m one of those heavy blanket people). I do also get the sweats during stressful mornings and I’m just standing in the kitchen trying to feed my son while also listening to the news while also repeatedly checking my email to see if one of the literary agents has responded.


I try to drink a reasonable amount of water during the day, but it’s tough when I’m drinking so much coffee to balance out the effects of the insomnia + stress sweat situation.


Every day my thumb scrolls along my Twitter feed. Every day new videos begged to be watched. Police violence and outrage take over.

In the meantime, my husband and I have a masssssssssssive siding project we have to pay for. He’s working on figuring it out and explaining all the financial stuff to me and I literally can’t. I can’t. I can’t think. I can’t handle it.

Between the kids and the news and me living in my skull trying to wrestle a story onto a blank page, I am literally everywhere all at once and I can’t focus on ANYTHING.

The Most Garbage Diet of All Time

I’m really trying to get back to my keto diet because my blood sugars were all the fuck over the place last month. Horrible. Awful. My body’s been through the ringer and I really just want to get some stability back, which is difficult because I love chips too much when I feel like garbage.

I also cut out drinking again and need SOMETHING to keep me happy.

Sometimes I eat dark chocolate (85%) but I’ve eaten enough to disrupt my digestive system. Sometimes I put peanut butter on it. Sometimes I just put the peanut butter on a spoon.

Either way, I think my blood sugars are better, but I never make a proper dinner anymore. My husband works like 17 hour days so I function like a single mom. I’m always too exhausted.


I’ve seen other people over 30 complain about acne. And I know that it’s an adult thing. I thought for a while that it was because I quit breastfeeding my son because the hormones REALLY took their toll on my a couple weeks ago when I broke out into both acne and got myself a really nasty cold sore at the same time.

My ache is all over my mouth and chin, which is probably a result of the dehydration + shitty food combo, but damn. This is partly why I’m a hermit.

Bad Brows

On the days that I really feel like garbage, I put on makeup just to feel sort of normal, like I have something to get ready for. Usually I still stay within the confines of my yard, though.

That being said, I barely ever pluck my eyebrows. I barely ever look at myself in the mirror.

I put on makeup to take the selfie for this post. My son was screaming on the floor while I did it, but honestly, my vapid millennial soul needed a little fucking ME time for once.

Coping Mechanisms

All I have right now is my writing. It’s causing me as much stress as it is relieving things, but it’s the best I’ve got. Thankfully, all the work I did on on my beloved book seems to be paying off. I will keep obsessively checking my inbox while also hopefully churning out work, putting myself elsewhere while my family sleeps upstairs.

To my Patrons, I WILL be writing you a story. I’m going to try my damnedest here but if I fail, I do have a story waiting in the wings that I planned on submitting but I’ll treat you to it.

I really want to distance myself from the political stuff so I’m trying to channel some grad nostalgia with my current WIP. I gotta ask, what was your grad like? Did you look forward to the future? Did you have big plans? Were you just stoked to be out of school?

I keep thinking about what the 2020 grads are thinking right now. Like…moving into this current reality? Is it a real punch to the face or is there a light at the end of the tunnel?

I keep seeing young Gen-Z people at the forefront of the protest videos online. I just want to say that I find this moving. Your words have driven me to tears. You’ve inspired me. If we can pull through and band together, Gen-Z will bring us a promising future.

And speaking of coping mechanisms, go read my free hot pandemic story, “Coping Mechanisms” now!

What are YOUR 2020 side-effects?

Okay, time to vent. What anxiety are you dealing with? How are you coping? Are you even bothering to improve yourself or are you just cruising it out at this point?

Like this post? With your support, I will have the opportunity to write more fiction, plus more creative blogs like this one. Support my work on Patreon and get yourself some nifty perks.

Rebecca is a neo-noir author from Kamloops, British Columbia. Her first collection of gritty short fiction, Vile Men was published by Dark House Press in 2015. She also writes about her writer lifestyle on her blog at

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