May You Live In Interesting Times

So, I had a craft post outlined, my take on creating your own motivation and smashing through writer’s block.

But then the world intruded. Possibly a new world, and for many, not a better version.

In conversations with writer and other artist friends in the last month, I’m getting an ugly vibe. People aren’t creating. Their issue isn’t the usual writers block, or lack of motivation, or the inability to flip a coin and pick one idea out of the pile.

Instead, the problem is somewhere between “art is frivolous” and “what does it matter in the big picture?”

Despite my lack of both shame and a brain-to-mouth filter, I’ve always tried to avoid political discussions, at least publicly. I’ve never found politicians to be desirable role models or politics to be a satisfying spectator sport.

Unfortunately, opting out isn’t a benign choice anymore. How does that saying (curse) go—“May you live in interesting times?”

No matter where you fall on the political spectrum or which party you lean toward, these are unsettled times. Society is in flux. The immediacy and pervasiveness of social media brings rulings, executive orders, and speculation in a real time, non-stop flood.

The sheer amount of information, opinions, and options to protest or support are overwhelming. The urge to do something—or hide—may be equally strong. When faced with marches, sit-ins, petitions, and riots, writing may not seem important.

It can even feel self-indulgent.

That’s especially true if you write speculative fiction.

Penning tales of dragons and space battles and hillbilly witches? Fluff. Irresponsible escapism.

Except, it isn’t. Not all of us have the liberty of expressing our views without repercussions. Maybe you’re a lone minority and don’t feel safe raising your voice. Friendships, careers, and even personal safety are at stake these days.

Which makes writing and our stories all the more important. Writing can be that safe space or that arena to fight for deeply held convictions. Writing can change hearts and minds, and is crucial during times of upheaval. For me, spec fiction is a place to push boundaries and play with what-if’s. Nobody likes heavy-handed issue books. Those have about the same effect as advertising there’s bacon for breakfast, and then finding out it’s the turkey version—disappointment, betrayal, and gagging.

Writing your truth as a thread in that hillbilly witch fantasy? That’s something else, though.

My advice?

Write the diversity you see around you every day. Write the government you desire.

Write inclusivity.

Write compassion.

While writing may seem pointless right now, never underestimate the power of a book. Why do those in power seek to manipulate or control words and ideas? Because art and the written word can produce tangible results.

Personally, I’m trying not to forget that potentially world-altering fact.

Comments 4

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *